People of all genders are showing their excitement about feminism through clothing, and that’s wonderful for so many reasons. But, when you buy a “girl power” T-shirt or one of those “the future is female” crewnecks, who are you supporting?
Big retailers began taking full advantage of the women’s movement as soon it transitioned to streetwear. While encouraging female empowerment using apparel is a productive way to spread the message, it’s important to recognize the priority of the company creating the product. This can be as simple as visiting the company’s website and reviewing the mission statement of the brand to ensure your interests align with the company’s.
Retailers like Rue21 Inc., Romwe, Hot Topic Inc. and Charlotte Russe Holding Inc. all sell versions of the feminist graphic tee. Purchasing these empowering products from profit-driven companies contradicts the change that needs to take place because an investment in women, whether it be monetarily or socially, is missing. Based on corporate information found on retailers’ websites, none of these brands suggest that profits from feminist apparel go toward charities. These companies also lack statements on their website that demonstrate a desire to advance women’s rights through employment efforts or other natures.
Feminism is not just a fashion trend; it is an ideology that fundamentally advocates for the equality of all genders, focussing on women’s rights. Next time you want to show off your feminist pride, try buying from a brand dedicated to advancing women empowerment. Whether the brand decides to cause change through monetary donations, employing women, or both, recognizing the movement you’re promoting and subsequently supporting those behind it is crucial to progress.
Brands That Donate to Organizations That Empower Women:
Wildfang – This company expresses itself not as a brand, but as “a band of…modern-day, female robin hoods raiding men’s closets.” With a goal to donate over $150,000 in 2018, the women behind Wild Fang work to provide options for fearless tomboys. From suiting to graphic T-shirts, this band of activists is driven to make a difference. Select products donate a percentage of the proceeds to the Malala Fund, which works to allow all girls access to education.
The Outrage: A team of women run this company focused on equality and diversity. You can shop online and in-store for a wide range of empowering apparel, accessories, stationery and home products. All of its profits go to organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter and Human Rights Campaign Foundation, among others.
Feminist Apparel: Through its “Shop By Cause” initiative, Feminist Apparel aims to promote intersectionality within feminism and raise awareness about women’s issues. This brand currently partners with eight organizations that help women and donate 40 percent of profits from those collections to their respective cause. The non-profits you can shop from include the African-American Policy Forum, Bust Magazine, Center for Reproductive Rights, The Equality Institute, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Hollaback!, #IHadAMiscarriage and Modern Rebel.
Brands That Are Female-Powered:
The Style Club: A team of “boss babes” run The Style Club, a company that collaborates with talented women to create vintage-inspired apparel that exudes feminism. Among the featured artists is an inspiring teen illustrator who created the “Babes who vote” and “We are the one” lines. You can purchase The Style Club’s clothing at major retailers including Macy’s Inc., Forever 21, Urban Outfitters Inc., Nordstrom Inc. and American Eagle Outfitters Inc., among others.
Birdsong: Inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” two women founded Birdsong. This brand is ethically responsible and intends to build an intersectional community of women. Not only does this brand present unedited photos of its models, but it also employs different groups of women—including elderly knitters, refugees and migrant mothers to create their clothing.
Shrill Society: Founded by the creator of the original “nasty woman” T-shirt, this sustainable brand is and operated by an intersectional group of women. Its goal is to enable all women to tell their stories and make a positive change in the world. Shrill Society’s contributions to charities are nothing short of impressive as donations to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and Earthjustice exceed $131,000.