ith sustainability talks becoming louder in the fashion space, brands are considering, and backing, more innovative and socially responsible ways to do fashion with minimal risk to the environment and people. This was clearly the case on Wednesday, June 8, when Chinese fashion behemoth, Shein threw its weight behind The Or Foundation, a Ghana- and US-based not-for-profit working with Accra’s textile waste workers, to the tune of $15million. Shein and or foundation partnership.
The announcement was made in Copenhagen during the Global Fashion Summit where, as expected, sustainability was a major talking point. The $15million (USD) is part of the online retailer’s $50million (USD) Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Fund, and will be granted to the Or Foundation in the course of three years as they assist the women and children who break their backs every day in Ghana’s textile waste market.
Speaking on the partnership, Adam Whinston, Shein’s Global Head of ESG said: “Shein has set an ambitious impact agenda, and we are thrilled to be partnering with The Or Foundation, the initial recipient of Shein’s trailblazing fund, for the next step in our journey.” “Addressing secondhand waste is an important part of the fashion ecosystem that is often overlooked. We have an opportunity to make a change in this space and we look forward to working with The Or Foundation on this first-of-its-kind effort,” he added.
As the first recipient of this fund, the Or Foundation has quite a lot to live up to. However, that shouldn’t pose a challenge considering the work they’ve done thus far in Kantamanto, Accra — the world’s largest secondhand clothing market. For instance, every week, the waste workers in Ghana get a physical examination that monitors the extent of the damage done to their bodies thanks to the heavy clothing bales they carry on their heads on a daily basis (per The Guardian).
“We have been calling on brands to pay the bill that is due to the communities who have been managing their waste, and this is a significant step toward accountability,” said Liz Ricketts, co-founder and executive director of The Or Foundation. “What we see as truly revolutionary is Shein’s acknowledgment that their clothing may be ending up here in Kantamanto, a simple fact that no other major fashion brand has been willing to state as yet.”
Shein has indicated their commitment to partner with more of such organizations through their $50 million multi-year EPR Fund that seeks to address the ecological and social problems of the global clothing trade. Together with the Or Foundation, Shein will also “identify additional grant recipients in other countries impacted by fashion’s waste problem this year and in coming years,” (per Fashion Network).
Shein and The Or Foundation have certainly come together to make an impact in the communities that literally get their hands dirty to keep the ‘fashion ball rolling,’ and we hope that many more brands follow suit. After all, looking good doesn’t have to come at the expense of people or the environment.
Featured image: ronaesfagon | Instagram
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