By George Maskell, Sona Circle
Year upon year, businesses seem to spend more of their resources on CSR (corporate social responsibility). Whether this is just to make themselves look good or not, it doesn’t change the fact that they are spending more money to help people.
Although this is true for many companies, there are others that link with charities and non-profits because they know it is a worthy cause. Some of the brands in this article show that there are many more ways to help than just donating money.
The Big Brand Market
There are many well-known brands that are doing their part to help the development of the less fortunate. The likes of Ikea and Sony are just two examples of brands that have been actively aiding refugees worldwide. Ikea, who regularly have donation campaigns for refugees, designed and developed a new type of sustainable shelter. The purpose was to give people a better alternative to tents, by providing a flatpack easy to construct pitched roof shelters which can last up to 3 years. These shelters are also far more advanced, including solar panels, mosquito nets, lights, and ventilation.
As of January 2020, over 80,000 people had benefitted from these shelters. Aid agencies on the island of Lesbos, Greece have said that the shelters were drastically improving the living conditions of thousands of refugees who reach the camps.
Sony is also a company helping to aid refugees. They are doing this by setting up the ‘Song Global Relief Fund for Covid-19’. Through this fund, Sony have contributed $3 million towards helping protect refugees from the pandemic. This fund is critical in helping UNHCR field operations to prepare and respond to COVID-19 and prevent the spread among refugees and their host communities.
Now while big brands like these have access to large funds and are pressured into helping through CSR, there are smaller companies who have been dedicated to these causes since their inception.
One of these smaller brands is Adiff, which is a fashion brand inspired by the question “can fashion save lives?”. The founder, Angela Luna fuses fashion, humanity, and practicality. One piece from the collection is a terrain jacket that is perfect for trapesing through the jungle or strolling through the city, and it boasts a unique ability that most jackets do not; it can be transformed into a tent. The tent jacket, designed to provide assistance to refugees, is a display of style and practicality and can be used by everyone in whatever situation they may find themselves. Furthermore, with every purchase of this jacket another one is donated to a displaced person.
So far, Adiff has donated over 500 of these jackets to refugees in northern Syria since 2017. They created the company with this vision “we founded our company with the mission of giving back”. Which shows the humane and ethical ways that some people approach business.
Another brand that has a similar stance on refugees is Vanina. However, unlike Adiff, where they help refugees with their designs, Vanina are first-hand employers of refugee designers. The brand is known for hand-made jewellery, accessories and apparel which was born in Beqaa Valley in Eastern Lebanon. A popular piece is the evening bag, made by the craftspeople in the Homs refugee camp. The bag is made using a up-cycled tin can consisting of white and gold pearls stitched in tight rows.
Vanina, takes on local artisans who provide traditional hand-made techniques, in leather-making, weaving, pattern making, cutting, and embroidering. They also give us a look into the brand by showing each of its makers through their #WHOMADEMYCLOTHES. Their belief in engaged activism aims to promote community development through appreciation of craftsmanship and environmental awareness.
Both brands offer a breath of fresh air in terms of their social activism. There is not an overwhelming feeling that they are trying to please the public, but more of a unified vision of giving back and helping to curb future struggle.
Here at Sona Circle, we to are trying to raise awareness through apparel, culminating in the #EqualTees. The Equal Tees are a line of t-shirts with an equal (=) logo, with the aim of spreading the message of equality. The proceeds from each Equal Tees campaign are distributed towards workplace equality and refugee employment.