Clothes for social good

Anisha Srivastava

The spirit of philanthropy is intrinsic to this generation. When logging on to social media, there is always an overwhelming number of posts asking for support for different philanthropic causes or sharing experiences working on social initiatives or with non-profit organizations. This generation is not content living in isolation from the suffering and hardship of others; the passion is clearly there. However, with limited financial resources, limited time and geographical barriers, it can be difficult knowing how exactly to start to drive change. Personally, I have frequently encountered these limitations; I have felt that any individual attempt to support a cause would be insignificant.  

With this framework, I recently launched Clothes for Causes to make philanthropic engagement more accessible. The mission of Clothes for Causes is to empower this generation to act on its passion for philanthropy by weaving philanthropy into fashion. Clothes for Causes features clothing and jewelry collections called “Cause Collections,” each inspired by a different philanthropic cause. The designs, colors and cuts of the clothes embody the message and spirit of the cause. Additionally, 25 percent of each product sale in the Cause Collections is donated to a nonprofit organization or social initiative driving change in the respective cause. With this business model, the goal is to offer customers two simple but powerful tools — funding and advocacy. By donating part of the sales, Clothes for Causes is facilitating the process of financially supporting philanthropies. Clothes for Causes researches the organizations and creates a channel from the customer to the philanthropy, so by simply purchasing a product, a direct contribution is made. The second tool, which is often overlooked, is advocacy. Our Cause Collection products capture the essence of the cause, creating an opportunity for customers to advocate for a cause. The Clothes for Causes website features blog posts detailing the conceptual connection between the causes and collections.

Our first Cause Collection is the Fight Against HIV/AIDS Collection, in support of The Right Now Foundation, an organization based in the United Kingdom. The organization funds the construction of orphanages for children born with HIV positive across India and funds a nutrition program for impoverished HIV-positive children in single-parent households. I have worked with The Right Now Foundation for several years and after visiting the homes many times and seeing the impact of donations, I selected The Right Now Foundation as an ideal organization to support. It costs $30 to cover a child’s needs — school supplies, transportation costs, food and medication — for an entire month and $5,000 to support a home of 42 children for one year. When a customer purchases a product from the Fight Against HIV/AIDS Collection, 25 percent of that sale is donated to The Right Now Foundation. Every dollar truly goes a long way.

In many populations, HIV/AIDS is viewed as a taboo topic and HIV-positive individuals are ostracized rather than cared for. This only perpetuates the problem. Educating populations about sexual health and safe sexual practices can limit the spread dramatically. This awareness is essential not only to limit the spread, but also to eliminate ignorance and ensure that individuals with the virus do not face discrimination. HIV/AIDS has taken 30 million lives since 1981, but it is absolutely in our power to stop the spread. The Fight Against HIV/AIDS Cause Collection is inspired by the importance of education to limit the spread of the virus. The concept is simple: With education and awareness, new life can grow even from the darkest of roots. 

I hope the impact of Clothes for Causes is two-fold. For the UT community, I envision Clothes for Causes evolving as a platform for students to creatively apply their talents. As we grow, I hope to incorporate the artwork of more UT student artists in the collections, involve more UT student photographers in product photoshoots and support UT student organizations in their philanthropic endeavors. For the customers, my hope is to provide a meaningful experience and a refreshing, accessible way to approach philanthropy — to wear what you care about and then share what you care about.

Srivastava is a Plan II and business honors sophomore from Allen. She is the founder of Clothes for Causes.