HARARE, Zimbabwe — The fashion world is evolving now more than ever to incorporate inspired initiatives that aid in the fight against global poverty. Famous companies such as TOMS Shoes have not only created stylish shoes for anyone to purchase, but they have integrated global issues into their company mission. Their project, referred as One for One, vows to donate a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair that is bought.
Other companies with similar principles to TOMS Shoes are popping up all around us, including Krochet Kids Intl. and Emma O Clothing. They combine fashion with one of the greatest obstacles standing in the way of global stability and human progress: poverty.
Krochet Kids Intl.
Three brothers who all have a knack for crocheting launched Krochet Kids Intl. They got their start by crocheting warm-weather hats that became wildly popular throughout their town of Spokane, Washington, and earned them the name, the Krochet Kids. Before long, they combined a love of travel and volunteering with their skills, and their company was born.
Krochet Kids Intl. takes a different approach from TOMS Shoes and focuses on the empowerment of women in developing nations. The company personally employs women from destitute areas of Peru and Uganda to hand-make each article of clothing. These women crochet the clothes and accessories for a fair wage, which helps lift them out of poverty.
Krochet Kids, Peru is located just outside of the capital, Lima. Currently, 38 women are employed and have been lifted out of poverty. The creators started this project by joining forces with organizations and churches in order to pinpoint women and families that would benefit from this sort of opportunity.
The company also provides education for the women to gain the ability and knowledge that would help them be successful in the private sector. Krochet Kids Intl. goes beyond teaching crocheting skills and wants to ensure that these women can be independent no matter where life may take them.
In Uganda, the program is even larger, with 150 women employed in the northern region of the country. These women have each worked with the creators for around three years in order to learn about both crocheting and ways to become financially stable. The mentorship program strengthens these women’s knowledge on personal budgeting, savings and loans.
Each woman also signs every article of clothing that they have created. This makes the company even more unique, as it not only lifts families out of poverty, but also promotes a world that lifts the veil between the makers and buyers of goods. Krochet Kids Intl. has exceeded in directly aiding women facing hardships, and the company is growing quickly.
Emma O Clothing
Emma Ostergren’s company, Emma O Clothing, takes yet another approach, and incorporates the beauty of crocheted dresses and bathing suits with direct donations to people in poverty in Zimbabwe.
At just 22 years old, Emma Ostergren quit her job as a Swedish model and focused on intertwining her designing skills with her passion to help. While modeling, Ostergren traveled a lot, but found that she focused more so on the troubles in places she visited rather than just the beauty of the sceneries.
Ostergren’s yearning to help those in poverty-stricken nations led her to the mission behind her clothing line, Emma O Clothing. Specifically, the struggles Ostergren saw while modeling in Zimbabwe stuck with her, and she was moved to contribute part of her earnings to those suffering in poverty. With every purchase made, 60% of the cost is donated directly to Zimbabweans living in poverty.
The pieces are all handmade and woven into intricate patterns, inspired by nature and the cultures she encountered while traveling. This is just the start of her company, and she hopes to expand. For now she has taken a love for fashion and her passionate energy in order to create a sustainable company with a positive impact.
The phrase ‘fashion forward’ typically describes a fresh or trendy style often unseen by designers in the fashion world. These clothing companies, however, are fashion forward in more ways than one. While they are creating trendy clothes and accessories, TOMS Shoes, Krochet Kids Intl. and Emma O Clothing are fashion forward in the way they are looking ahead at the impact that their creations will have on the global community. Hopefully their efforts will spark a new phenomenon of companies like theirs that shift the focus from sales to sustainable human progress.