Let’s talk about the role women play in the fashion industry. Usually when we read articles about this topic they’re not exactly spreading good news. This is because women form an overwhelming majority – approximately 80% – in the global garment industry and they often work in terrible conditions. This happens as a result of the discriminatory practices which put women in the position of being underpaid, live in less-than-decent working conditions, often deprived of maternity leave, child care and safe travel to work.
In this scenery we observe that even though the fashion industry is for the most propped up by women, throughout the fashion supply chain, men (despite representing a minority) tend to work in better-paid and higher-level positions. When we look at the high-level or representative positions in the fashion industry fewer than 50 percent of well-known womenswear brands are designed by women (Source: Spring/Summer 2017 fashion week study, The Business of Fashion: BoF), and only 14 percent of major brands have a female executive in charge (Source: The Business of Fashion: BoF).
But let’s not lose our hopes! We can change the norms, we can shatter this glass ceiling in the fashion industry! Women can be the heart of this social change in the supply chain, whether they occupy positions at the top, in the middle or at the bottom. Also in leadership roles they can provide better working conditions, a more positive working environment and they can be an example for future female entrepreneurs.
So let’s talk about the women who have already made it. Here is a list of 5 women-led sustainable brands you should check out!
- ZAZI Vintage
This dutch brand was founded by Jeanne de Kroon in 2017. Jeanne started her journey of ZAZI in collaboration with a rural women’s led social enterprise called the Saheli women. They started with just 7 dresses and quickly grew into a large family of female storytellers redefining the industry while flourishing local communities and partnerships. Over the past 6 years ZAZI has become a global community based on the love for artisanal craft, nature and cloth. This brand brings women together with the aim of restructuring the way of collaboration based on the foundation of reciprocity. In order to achieve true “sustainability,” Jeanne emphasizes the need to listen to the stories of artisans, farmers, natural dyers and weavers.
Take a look at what they do on their website: https://zazi-vintage.com/
- Progetto Quid
Progetto Quid is the ethical and sustainable fashion brand of the Quid social enterprise. Quid was born in 2013 in Verona (Italy) from an intuition of Anna Fiscale and Ludovico Mantoan. They decided to start producing clothes in collaboration with small local tailoring workshops that offer inclusive employment to women. Their collections come to life from surplus fabrics made available by the most prestigious fashion companies and the textile sector. Each garment is uniquely made by the work of people – especially women – with a story of fragility, who find in Quid an opportunity for redemption.
Check out their website: https://shop.progettoquid.com/
Anna Kytövuori, Evi Oivanen, Vilma Piironen founded in 2019 fashion brand Cuitu in Finland. This female founded company creates urban & unisex accessories made of upcycled fabrics. The entire business model has been built around the concept of sustainability: they utilize various leftover fabric streams to create the products, such as cutting surplus from the professional diving suit production. In this way, Cuitu is about circularity and supporting the circular economy, a promise of responsibly created items.
Aren’t you curious? Here’s their website: https://www.wearecuitu.com/
- Rave Review
Founded in 2016, Rave Review is Swedish fashion brand created by two young creatives: Josephine Bergqvist and Livia Schück, . The concept of Rave Review is to make clothes with high-end finishes and made entirely out of pre-existing textiles and clothes. They basically work with upcycling and secondhand items and combine them to create high fashion. The main goal of the Swedish design duo is to become role models for others in the industry following sustainability and upcycling as their two guiding principles.
Take a look at their designs here: : https://www.rave-review.com/
Birdsong is a British fashion brand that was born in 2014. Sophie Slater and Sarah Neville were inspired by the great skills and creativity in the women’s community. Their mission became to create beautiful, sustainable clothes that empower the wearer, the worker and the community. At Birdsong, they create clothing for women who dress in protest: “Wearing our collection of original wardrobe staples is a protest in itself– against the fast nature of the fashion industry, against the obsessive pursuit of trends and against the systematic abuse of women in the production line”.
Learn more about this brand on their website: https://birdsong.london/
These brands are communicating an important and strong message of independence and empowerment to the outside world. The women behind the brands are role models for those who dream of making a difference in the fashion industry. Not only for how they treat and work with their women in their supply chain, but also for their values that contribute to a more sustainable development. Making the steps to change not only possible, but also obvious.