This is why Renegades of Chic exists.
Yes, it's ambitious, because otherwise, what's the point?
All we know is that we'll go further together than we will alone, and we'd love you to join us in making this vision a reality. Here's what it means to us.
Women working at Baobab Batik in Swaziland. Image: Baobab Batik.
It's safe to say our global economy isn't fair right now. Wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few. The majority of resources are allocated to what will make the most money for people who already have a lot of it within a really short space of time, without regard for the social and environmental impacts.
The business models of most large corporations rely on exploitation in some way or another. If we asked every CEO today to pay a living wage to everyone involved in their supply chains and provide them with safe working conditions, it would be an impossible request. Because their own KPIs are all about maximising revenue and profit in the next quarter, instead of improving the lifetime wellbeing for the people who work for them. And many of them couldn't even tell you who is involved in making their products.
So, what might a fair global economy look like?
At an individual level, everyone involved in making products and delivering services would be paid a living wage. They would work in safe conditions, be able to go home to their families at night and have access to sick leave and paid holidays.
At a systemic level, resources would be allocated to things that make the world a better place to live in - things that have a positive impact on our society and our environment. Wealth would be distributed more evenly. There would still be people making more money than others, but the gap between them would be much smaller.
There is so much work going on around the world to fight poverty - just trying to define it is a full-time job, and there is still no real consensus about what it means in technical terms. One thing that everyone can agree on is this - poverty sucks.
For us, poverty means not being able to meet the basic needs of you and your family. Having to decide between paying the rent or buying food this week, or not having a home or access to food at all. Not being able to send your children to school. Not being able to go to the doctor when you're sick or afford to buy medicine.
For the majority of people living in poverty today, their parents experienced similar challenges. Poverty is intergenerational - it's easy to get stuck in the cycle, and it can often be very difficult to escape without some sort of help. While billions of dollars have been spent trying to eliminate poverty, so much of it has been wasted, because no one ever asked the people living in poverty what they need to make their lives better. That's why we are all about empowerment, not just good intentions.
What does empowerment look like? If it's done properly, it will look different everywhere. It might mean building a school or a health clinic. It might mean adult literacy programs, or educational scholarships. It might mean designers partnering with local artisan cooperatives to introduce them to international markets. It might mean giving a woman access to a small loan to start her own business.
Whatever it looks like, it's about recognising the strengths that individuals and communities currently have, asking them where they want to go and empowering them to get there. Respectfully, often slowly, and always with the goal of making the next generation's lives better than the last.
Because there is no quick fix.
For us, this is by far the most personal part of our purpose, and it's also the most important. While happiness looks gloriously different all over the world, the elements needed for someone to thrive are the same: hope and opportunity.
We are so proud to partner with designers all over the world who are working in true partnership with local communities to create hope and opportunity in places where it is in short supply. We hope you'll join us in our mission to create even more.