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FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE
BY HANNAH AHDAB
Clothing talks, and for the first time our clothes have the ability to speak on what we believe in. A sweatshirt can have the ability to remind us that being a good person is free of charge, or the power of being an optimist everywhere you go. Handbags are a handheld accessory that can tell others you believe in women’s empowerment. Our clothing is able to say all these things depending on the brands they come from. Now more than ever, consumers are finding ways to design clothing and accessories that allow us to speak out about the issues and initiatives we find most important to us without saying a word.
Many of these brands are ones that we see everywhere, from our Instagram feeds to celebrities, to the streets of the city, but were started by average people. Sam Abrahart, founder and CEO of the Mayfair group, launched the company after years of struggling with her own mental health. She created the brand to create a movement of empathy and authenticity, with clothes as the vessel. Despite these humble beginnings, the brand is now projected to bring in over $5 million in revenue this year. In the past 10 years, brands like Mayfair group - driven to spark movements with their clothing - have been popping up in the retail market at exponential rates.
Madhappy was founded on the basis of spreading positivity and optimism. Consumers are willing to spend $150 to almost $200 for a sweatshirt because they believe that buying a sweatshirt also means buying into a community. Awful Cloth was founded on the basis of the duality of life: finding the good in the bad and the light in the darkness. Sarah’s Bag is a Lebanese based fashion house that aspires to create bags that empower the women who create them and wear them. All these brands started small, with the goal of being a catalyst for change, and have grown to be household names.
With the global wellness industry now being valued at $4.2 trillion, it can be hard for smaller brands to create a name for themselves. Despite differing mission statements, all of these brands have been able to create a stake in a market dominated by large retailers by focusing on their authenticity. These brands place an emphasis on creating a community, with their clothing the symbol bringing people together. A recent study has found that 83% of millennials and gen Z consumers find value alignment extremely important in the brands they support, and actively seek out brands that are in alignment with their personal beliefs. It’s due to this phenomenon that propels people to spend more money on the hoodies and handbags they don on a daily basis. To consumers, the clothes they wear are indicative of the initiatives they believe in.
The creativity of marketing that these companies often employ is also in greater alignment with their target audience. Brands like Awful have relied on Tik Tok influencers such as Addison Rae and Charli D’Amelio to sport their sweatshirts in their videos. This marketing method has proved increasingly successful as 70% of consumers feel more connected to brands with CEOs that are active social media users. With companies making it a goal to create community, interacting with their consumers on social media both directly and indirectly is essential. Sarah’s Bags can be seen on the arms of influential women like Beyonce and Amal Clooney, as their belief in women's empowerment aligns with those of the company.
The list of brands working towards integrating fashion and various initiatives is constantly growing. As stigmas surrounding mental health, feminist movements, and other initiatives are slowly torn down, more and more brands are beginning to emerge. And as designers continue to create products that allow the wearer to show that they are part of a greater community, the consumer demand to buy into these seemingly exclusive communities increases.