How fashion can be used for the greater good

The world has its fair share of environmental, social and economic problems. We are in dire need of social upliftment, medical treatment to fight disease, solutions to climate change and more. Clearly, there is a need for creative solutions that are sustainable. This is where fashion and accessories can play a role.

Is it possible to make people look good and fashionable by addressing some of these problems? Yeah a lot. Fashion can be good for the world and the environment, and it can also be used for social change. And that’s what Relate Bracelets aims to do.

Relate Bracelets is a non-profit social enterprise that makes and sells handmade beaded products to raise money for charity around the world while creating jobs for people in low-income areas. It gives the townspeople dignity, companionship, and earnings to support their families.

Fashion has always been about personality and these creative beaded products not only allow people to choose designs that suit their personal taste, but the wearer is able to choose a cause close to their heart.

We live in a world of fast and fickle fashion. But it is known that this is not what the young generation wants. As recently as 2015, Nielsen reported that most Millennials were willing to spend more money on goods they felt were sustainable and good for the environment. Forbes recently reported that 62% of Generation Z want to make more sustainable purchases. And brands have responded with more environmentally friendly packaging, products that are biodegradable and fashion that adds good to the world instead of constantly taking from it.

An arm rack

Over the years, Relate Bracelets has used the sale of its bracelets to raise R68.8 million for social upliftment. The company has also touched over 100 charities that are involved in a variety of worthy causes, including better access to education, treating disease and providing clean water to villages, as well as organizations that help orphans, animals and the weak.

Fashion can be fun, fashionable and have a positive effect on the world. We just need the right minds to think more creatively to make it happen. Relate Bracelets encourages customers to be part of the solution as well. A small change or addition to how you spend your money can change the world – or someone’s world.

Corporate social investment (CSI) funds are down, but the need for help has increased since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to independent CSI research late last year. The short-term forecast is that South Africa’s CSI spending will continue to decline. Relate Bracelets encourages companies to continue to share corporate social investment funds, even if less than before.

Dalit Shekel is a brand consultant for Relate Bracelets, a non-governmental organization based in Cape Town.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Mail & Guardian.

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