As some of you know, I took a year off from my day job in February this year to establish Renegades of Chic. When I told people my plans I know the unspoken reaction went something like this: "So, you've spent the last 15 years of your life studying at university to get three degrees and dedicating yourself to a career in government, and now you're leaving all of that behind to sell scarves and pillows in a little shop on the internet...what the hell are you thinking?!?"
I get it. It seems crazy. Like any major life decision, there were lots of reasons why I decided to start Renegades of Chic, but in the end it all came down to purpose and impact. How could I use everything I've learned over the last 15 years to create positive change? In a way that didn't rely on government funding, and wasn't beholden to political interests and electoral cycles?
I was just as surprised as everyone else when I realised the answer may lie in fashion. Like all good policy nerds, it was the numbers that got me. One in six people working in the world today are employed by fashion and related industries. Eighty per cent of people in the supply chain are women. And the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world.
I began to imagine the impact we could have if we made the fashion industry ethical and environmentally conscious. We could change the lives of one-sixth of the world's working population, and the greatest impact would be felt by women. And we could start to unwind some of the environmental damage we have caused along the way.
I say 'we' deliberately. This is about you and me and the choices we make every day. We don't need to fundraise, volunteer, lobby politicians or change laws. All we need to do is buy less and choose well, and do it together.
Over the coming weeks and months we'll be sharing more about our longer-term vision for Renegades of Chic and how we plan on getting there. In this issue, we go into a deeper explanation of our purpose, because this is central to everything we do. Every decision we make, every brand we partner with and every product we choose to sell is driven by our purpose: to create a fairer global economy by empowering people living in developing countries to lift themselves out of poverty and lead flourishing lives.
I hope you enjoy the Men's Edit of The Dispatch, and I'd like to wish my Dad an early Happy Father's Day - thank you for loving me so deeply and fiercely, even when I make seemingly crazy life choices - I love you Dad.
This article originally appeared in The Dispatch, our free e-magazine featuring the latest in ethical style, design and travel.