Corporate Social Responsibility in Fashion

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Whether you do or don’t work in CSR or corporate philanthropy or are parent/teacher/babysitter who stumbled onto our blog you’re definitely wondering why this very LinkedIn-ey post is on the blog for a startup based on kids fashion education publishing & edtech…

The answer is because as a startup at the intersection of multiple industries Little Red Fashion is committed to leaving the world a better place we found it for kids and grownups who love, work in, and enjoy fashion. (Everyone else too, but that’s our focus.) That includes being a resource on the consumer-facing side and being a resource on the industry-facing side as well. Moreover it’s a unique place where those two sides can overlap as we discuss issues that inform our pedagogy.

It’s 2022. Fashion as an industry has had two years of COVID, has had two years of supply chain & logistics issues, has had two years of initiatives and think pieces about everything from diversity, equity and inclusion to sustainability, HR rooted in the idea that the myriad conventions that form the status quo had an opportunity to shift. At the start of the pandemic there were pledges and initiatives galore. Where has it gotten us? What has come of the rhetoric? More importantly, what does it say about the idea of corporate social responsibility for fashion firms, fields, and consumers? We’re here to say no more rhetoric. No more form without substance. Let’s work on massive issues like body positivity, diversity & representation of everyone, and teaching about the true environmental costs of things like fast fashion by building tools and resources together.

Corporate social responsibility at its most basic level is the integration of a businesses operations & planning with social and environmental goals in addition to the obvious goal of making a profit.

Little Red Fashion achieves our CSR goals of diversity, equity, inclusion, and sustainability across every area of our company from our products to our people.

On the consumer facing side, we are focused on empowering the future of the fashion industry by creating educational tools that dispense with the biases and systemic issues that have plagued the fashion industry for decades. We want to educate kids about a fashion future that is for everyone. We believe in telling stories with diverse characters from every part of the world in ways that appreciate and don’t appropriate. We believe in making tools and stories, tech and toys that help dismantle systems that promote body dysmorphia and -isms/-obias of any kind. We want kids from all walks of life and all kinds of families to be able to see that they can have any career in fashion or fashion adjacent industries like beauty, engineering, photography, tech etc. that they desire and can see stories and characters like them. We are a broker of conversations and provider of materials for grown ups too, to make tough conversations easier and more relatable through the universal language of fashion & dress.

Inwardly, we mirror the very changes we want to see in major fashion brands and retailers: deliberately and consciously onboarding diverse stakeholders in leadership positions that have a seat at the cap table with a focus on members of historically marginalized groups. On the sustainability front it means pushing our digital titles first, then printing in ways that save resources and cut down on waste. We work with printers that turn trim into recycled paper stock, and use eco friendly bindings and inks.

Lastly, from a fashion industry perspective we want to rally every brand owner, designer, makeup artist, illustrator, historian, academic, stylist, artisan, CMO, materials scientist and their respective companies together to empower kids who will pick up where they leave off in the future. We have created a scalable fiscally sponsored program (through NYC-based 501c3 The Field) called The Little Red Literacy Program which allows anyone or any company to help achieve our vision of an industry where fashion truly is for everyone.

This program will provide free copies of our titles, workbooks (and more as we grow beyond this early stage) to teachers and students enrolled to receive them, or who are gifted them by sponsors in their local areas. Importantly it will also provide free copies to kids battling childhood challenges at as many children’s hospitals that we can. Our aim is to inspire and educate all kids regardless of the barriers they face outside their control as children. As we grow and expand we will be adding other collaborations and partnerships with diverse players in the charitable & private sector to uniquely address issues like technology access, disability, children with learning differences (like me, who has navigated life with ADHD and cerebral palsy) and fashion waste recycling/the circular economy.

This series on our blog will highlight and contextualize all of our initiatives under the Little Red Fashion CSR umbrella and provide a finger on the pulse of what other firms in the fashion world are doing as well. We hope this resources helps inquisitive parents, caretakers, and teachers as well as industry vets and startups to take a look at the ways they navigate positive social & environmental impact in 2022 and beyond. I hope that if you are a fashion company of any sort, or a fashion lover a company that works with fashion firms write large you’ll reach out and we can have a chat about ways to scale impact.

Together, we have a lot of work to do. But, I know we can create a world where fashion is for everyone. Check in next week where I'll be diving into the idea of greenwashing and the way various industry players and advocacy groups are tackling it as part of an exploration in sustainability. If you don't want to miss out on anything, sign up for our newsletter!

Jonathan Joseph

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Little Red Fashion Creator and CEO Jonathan Joseph is a fashion loving visionary & consultant who's loved fashion since childhood. After consulting in the luxury space for a bit, he was inspired to write The Little Red Dress. From there he realized kids who love fashion lack the same level of targeted resources from books to tech that their peers who love music or sports have had for ages. Our entire vision is dedicated to his mom, Margaret, who started his love of fashion as a kid looking for unique socks to cover his leg braces!

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