Want to help people in serious need? Meet the ethical fashion brands helping refugees!
By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
I’m just gonna say it – the world is messed up. From Iraq and Syria to Libya and Afghanistan, the things the NATO countries and Israel have been doing to people in the Middle East and Africa are just unspeakably horrific. No wonder we have a major refugee crisis around the world!
Imagine the situation of a refugee. They have no papers, no passports, no means of travelling anywhere legally. No jobs, no homes, no security. All refugees hope to return home one day, but some, such as those exiled from Palestine, have been refugees for three generations.
Refugees are just as educated and ambitious as those who have the luck of living in war-free areas. Most of them are young and knowledgeable, yet due to a lack of job opportunities and inadequate infrastructure, they struggle with poverty. Hundreds of thousands often find themselves in one square kilometre of land, in camps where they have no chance of accomplishing themselves.
But luckily, a few kind-hearted brands in the fashion community are now helping refugees to turn their fate around.
Meet the ethical fashion brands helping refugees – and remember: every purchase helps someone in need, meaning YOU can be part of the change!
Meet The Ethical Fashion Brands Helping Refugees
Orenda means a mystical force present in all people that empowers them to affect the world, or to effect change in their own lives. How cool is that? The word perfectly embodies the mission of this T-shirt brand from Jordan, founded by Zaid Souqi. This label is ethical all round – their fabric is eco-friendly in the use of fabrics (100% cotton), water-based silk screen dyes and recycled packaging.
In regards to social sustainability, The Orenda Tribe not only works with orphans and vulnerable children living in rural communities, but refugees, too, of course.
The project provides manufacturing jobs to benefit the less fortunate, and also allows children the opportunity to express themselves through art. The Orenda Tribe sees art as an effective means of engaging with young people on different topics and developing different skills such as better communication, problem-solving, teamwork and creativity.
And the best part? You can see the adorable results on the graphics on their tees!
Winner of the Best Accessories category in the 2018 Eluxe Awards, Beirut based Vanina is an elegant jewellery and fashion brand that has partnered with NGOs to help refugee camps by raising money for them through their beautifully handcrafted collections.
Faux pearl embellished robes and bustiers, slinky dresses, quirkily cool jewellery, and some of the most stunning floral handbags we’ve ever seen are just a few of the offerings from Vanina. And the best part? Each piece is created by upcycling discarded materials! It’s hard to believe when you see how incredibly elegant and sophisticated the designs are, but there it is.
We particularly adore the ‘message’ bracelets and earrings! Perfectly stackable, they carry cute phrases like ‘Que sera sera’ or ‘Nerd loves maths’ or ‘To the moon and back’. They’re the perfect gift for your bestie, sister, mom…or yourself!
3. Sep Jordan
If you’ve got a thing for hand embroidery, you’ll love Sep Jordan’s dress hems, belts, bags, knitwear and accessories. This ethical brand is created exclusively by Palestinian refugee women. Their cross-stitching techniques have been passed down from generation to generation.
Sep Jordan’s founder, Roberta Ventura, decided it was time for these marginalised women’s wonderful needlework to get the recognition it deserves. She created the brand to present this special embroidery to international markets.
As a result, you’ll find all kinds of beautiful items here, featuring intricate embroidery, including linen shawls, table runners, handbags, pillows and more.
Each item will surely evoke gasps of ‘wow, where did you get that’? from all who see it!
Re:new Project creates a multitude of handmade and timeless fashion pieces from homeware to handbags. There are even gorgeous little baby blankets! The artisans who create these handmade items are refugee women. All have settled in the Chicago area after escaping war, persecution or political conflict elsewhere.
The Re:new Project’s motto is ‘carry the story’, and you can bet that every item does indeed carry a story – one you can share to help women in need. The project came about as a means of offering free training and providing flexible employment for female refugees from different countries.
This is how it works: first, the women take English and sewing classes. Then, they are hired to create products from upcycled materials. Selling these items gives these women an income and employment opportunities, allowing them to provide for their families.
There can be little doubt that the Re:new Project is a place of solace for these women as they now have a space in which to thrive as they work hard to rebuild their hopes and dreams.
5. Deux Mains
Deux Mains is a spin-off Haitian business and ethical fashion brand from REBUILD globally. This nonprofit organisation was created in response to the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Founder Julie Colombio realised that the women who survived the disaster were looking for ways to help themselves recover from economic devastation. Consequently, she decided to open a small training center to instruct these women on how to make sandals from discarded car tires.
Fast forward over a decade now, and Deux Mains is now a ethical fashion brand that creates gorgeous, handmade products. These include bags, wallets, laptop cases, and yes, chic sandals, all made by artisan refugees from Haiti.
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