/ 30 July 2022

How fashion can be used for the greater good

We all love to look good, but it even feels better knowing that not only do you look fashionable, but you also helped make the world a better place

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

Is it possible for people to look good and fashionable, while addressing some of these problems? Yes, very much so. Fashion can be good for the world and environment, as well as used for social change. And that is what Relate Bracelets aims to do. 

Relate Bracelets is a not-for-profit social enterprise that makes and sells handmade beaded products to raise money for charities globally, while creating jobs for people in low-income areas. It gives township people dignity, companionship and earnings to support their families. 

Fashion has always been about personality and these creatively 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, unsustainable fashion. But it is known that this is not what the younger generation wants. As early as 2015 Nielsen reported that the majority of Millennials were willing to fork out more money for goods they thought to be sustainable and good for the environment.  Forbes recently reported that 62% of Generation Z want to shop more sustainably. And brands have been responding with more environmentally friendly packaging, products that are biodegradable and fashion that adds good to the world rather than consistently taking from it. 

An armstack

Over the years, Relate Bracelets has used the sale of its bracelets to raise R68.8-million for social upliftment. The company has also  affected well over 100 charities that are involved in a variety of credible causes, including better access to education, the treatment of diseases and providing clean water to villages, as well as organisations that help orphans, animals and the frail.

Fashion can be fun, trendy 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 too. One small change or addition to how you spend your money can change the world — or someone’s world. 

Corporate social investment (CSI) funds have decreased but the need for assistance has increased since the Covid-19  pandemic started, according to independent CSI research at the end of last year. The prediction for the short term is that South Africa’s CSI spend will continue to decrease. Relate Bracelets encourages companies to continue to allocate corporate social investment funds, even if it’s less than before.

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

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