What is the role of eco-fashion in Pride Month?
This Pride Month, we want to go beyond rainbows. We’re here to connect the global movements of product sustainability and eco-fashion with Pride: it turns out, they are interconnected!
What is Pride Month?
Pride Month takes place each June and it honours the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, NYC. The riots that ensued at The Stonewall Inn in NYC’s West Village that summer of 1969 is really where the LGBTQIA+ movement got its start. It celebrates the impact that the LGBTQIA+ community has had on our communities (and, the world), and honours those who are no longer with us.
You can read more about the movement’s beginnings at the Library of Congress website.
Pride Month is rainbows, parades, and peaceful demonstrations, but it is also so much more.
It is a reminder that we - as individuals, groups, and businesses - have a lot of work to do to create inclusive and equitable communities.
At KOOSHOO, it’s really important to us that everyone feels welcome and accepted, regardless of skin colour, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity, or political affiliation, you name it! We started our company to create better products for the planet and the people who wear them, but we also wanted to create safe spaces for people to express themselves. It doesn’t matter if you have hair, or how much hair you have: you are part of our community.
The dream was to create a purpose-led brand that would produce something with the intent to change how things are done moving forward - to embody a cultural shift in sustainable living. – Jesse & Rachel, KOOSHOO Founders
What is the role of fashion in Pride Month?
The role of fashion in Pride Month is perhaps not so obvious and direct, but worth considering nonetheless. After all, Pride is about self-expression! Pride is about feeling safe and secure enough to tell the world who you are and how you feel. We think it’s important to consider the role of fashion in our identities and how we relate to others in society.
Society often puts unsaid rules on us as its participants. These can be culturally influenced and are deep-seated, but they can also come from marketing efforts gone awry. For instance, some “rules” you may be familiar with…
- Women wear dresses, men wear pants.
- Girls should like pink and boys should like blue.
- Girls play with dolls and boys play with toy trucks.
- Gray hair and wrinkles are categorically unacceptable in a society that puts youthfulness as the highest ideal.
The world of fashion is always telling us how to look and what to consume, based on certain trends, materials, and colour palettes. The industry is typically very unsustainable and historically, has not been inclusive. Only in the past decade or so have we started to see an increase in diversity when it comes to clothing and accessories that are gender-, ethnicity, and body-positive, among others. We celebrate this change and welcome it with open arms.
Is inclusivity part of sustainability?
Sustainability is usually thought of more in terms of the planet and its ecosystems: how can the actions we take now meaningfully protect and preserve the places we live and the organisms they inhabit?
But environmental sustainability is only one piece of a larger puzzle. Another component of sustainability is social sustainability. This covers all the other issues facing our communities today: health, wellbeing, hunger, dignity, inequality, and more.
“Social sustainability is an ideal state of well-being which might be expected to occur when social, economic, and environmental interactions foster intergenerational equality and longitudinal equilibrium. That is, social sustainability refers to equality, well-being, and balance across quality of life indicators between sociocultural groups over time and from one generation to the next.” – Encyclopedia of Corporate Social Responsibility
When you really think about this, it makes sense: without sustaining our people, we don’t stand a chance of sustaining life on this planet. We need humans to feel safe, secure, loved, included, and equal in order for them to live their potential and do what they were put on this earth to do.
So yes, inclusivity is absolutely part of sustainability: it is integral to its success.
What is the role of eco-fashion in Pride?
It behooves fashion brands to put more effort into creating products that are environmentally sustainable. This can be done through the use of natural, regenerative materials; manufacturing processes, and increased support for fair wages and safe labour practices. We’ve consciously designed our products to tick all these boxes. You can read more about that effort with our newest product, the plastic-free Rounds hair ties.
At the same time, social sustainability asks fashion brands to also create products that are inclusive and equitable, serving a diverse group of people. If someone on this planet is looking out at the options for their clothes and accessories but they don’t see anyone that looks or feels like them, they feel left out.
We can all probably recall a time when we felt left out: maybe it was as a kid in the school lunchroom, or as a young adult feeling trapped in the wrong body and having no support from your family. Imagine living your entire life feeling left out. From this place, it would be hard to advocate for anything, much less a healthier, more equitable planet.
If we want to create meaningful change when it comes to ecological and sustainable fashion, we have to look beyond material sustainability and start looking at our people. How are we fostering inclusivity, equality, and community?
We have to look at how our products impact people: if this impact is not equitable, it is not sustainable.
Connecting the Dots Between Pride, Eco-Fashion, and Sustainability
We searched around for some common definitions of these terms, and we noticed a lot of crossovers (all from Oxford Languages). What do you see as the common denominators?
Pride: a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.
Eco-fashion: clothing and other goods made from recycled materials or otherwise produced by methods that are not harmful to the environment.
Sustainability: the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.
It’s simple: sustainability is all-encompassing. If we want to sustain our societies and be more eco-minded in all things, we have to include people in the equation.
How is fashion becoming more diverse?
The world of fashion will take a long time to become truly diverse and inclusive, but change is happening. Here are some of the ways we’ve noticed fashion make change for good:
The recognition and acceptance that there is a spectrum of gender identities and sexual orientations (and understanding of the difference). This shows up as non-binary garments and accessory designs and colour palettes. No more “pink for girls” and “blue for boys!”
An increase in gender-diverse, BIPOC, and disabled models in marketing and advertising. As we mentioned previously, humans need to feel included in society which means they need to see themselves mirrored in popular culture.
More support and inclusion of historically repressed voices in the world of fashion design. It’s not just the models that are changing: it’s also the people behind the brands. Designers and their teams are more and more filled with gender-fluid, queer, trans, BIPOC, and disabled individuals. With this kind of representation, a brand can do more for its audience than provide lip service to a cause: it can effect real change.
How is KOOSHOO contributing to a more diverse, inclusive world?
At KOOSHOO, we make hair accessories but we also strive to create space that fosters creativity, freedom of expression, and inclusion for all.
What this looks like for our brand:
- Removing gender from all of our marketing and advertising.
- Creating products that serve all manner of hairstyles, hair types, and hair colours: from curly blonde to straight brown to wavy grey, even rainbow or no hair at all.
- Elevating our customers and our partners, particularly those who have historically been marginalized: you are the reason we’re able to keep doing what we do and we love you for it!
For the month of June, we will be donating 20% of our sales from our Rainbow and Pastel Blooms hair tie packs, to the wonderful folks at Minus18Youth, who are doing incredible work transforming communities through LGBTQIA+ training, resources, and digital campaigns that enable others to champion inclusivity. Minus18 are leading change, building social inclusion, and advocating for all young people to feel safe, empowered and surrounded by people who support them.