Empowering consumers and managing work impact on employees proactively is often how social sustainability is defined.
As such, initiatives improving the emotional, financial, and mental wellbeing of people can look wildly different, depending on the brand’s unique worldview. This month, Fashion Forward has selected the contemporary Swedish fashion brand Monki whose prosocial strategy focuses on empowerment young women.
Salute sisterhood, empower women
With the mission to provide indie style at accessible prices, Monki opened its first store in Gothenburg, Sweden.
They quickly understood that the influence they were gathering could, and should, be directed to improve of their communities.
Over the last 15 years Monki has worked hard to challenge the status quo around female emancipation. To do so, they bring crucial topics to mainstream practice and discourse. Whether it is labor rights, body images, mental health, or even periods, this brand actively engages in fast-forwarding women empowerment.
They focus on 4 major forms of activations to shift ideas into implementation. Through breaking stigmas, engaging in partnerships, employing workers fairly, and tapping into its community, the brand addresses inequalities, improving female lifestyles, as we know it.
What is the strategy at Monki?
Let’s look at the foundations. As we know, 85% of garment workers are women.
They are at the bottom of the supply chain, and often vulnerable, and worse yet, forgotten. To ensure their safety and wellbeing, Monki rigorously filters their suppliers, requiring them to meet their Sustainability Commitment.
This document is the clarification of requirements to meet environmental and social responsibility, defined by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
To empower workers, it is crucial to ensure that diversity and inclusion is practiced, working hours are kept, child and young labor are prohibited, forced, illegal or prison labor are out of question.
Besides providing high living wages and benefits (specific data is provided on their website), the brand also offers training to the factories on workplace negotiation skills and collective bargaining.
To make sure this all does not remain a mere promise, the brand the brand regularly checks to ensure the rules are respected.
“Because, when the UN says “…the global gender gap will not close for another 100 years.” We say, “Won’t wait!” Our special sisterhood collection will inspire you to raise your voice, take up space and salute your sisters!” While critical, labor conditions are not the only place where the brand focuses its attention.
Empowerment and consumers. Is this link so cool for them?
While it gets technical on the production side, it incites sociocultural discourse to challenge the status quo on the consumer side.
It utilizes technology to stand up for the underdog. They employ anti-online harassment chatbots, interviews cultural legends on body confidence tips, or launch campaigns supporting social media posts. Moreover, they promote no filters to normalize make-up free beauty, and to cut back on inaccessible beauty ideals. Inclusivity is at the forefront of its agenda. Case in point, they have collaborated with the first LGBTQ+ online magazine in Russia, and frequently engage in overlooked topics, such as what is means to be a feminist with a disability.
In short, there are many ways to practice social sustainability, depending on specific values brands believe in.
In Monki’s case, storytelling and initiatives concentrate on female empowerment. They tackle a spectrum of needs commencing at their very livelihood and safety of women, and ending at their self-actualization.