In the News

Business ethics in fashion

Penny Brooks

3rd October 2017

Never mind BOGOF, how about Buy one, Donate one as an ethical message? Brands with a social justice agenda can enjoy a powerful "halo effect". A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research showed that consumers thought red wine tasted better, and other products - such as running shoes and hair loss treatments - performed better if they knew about a company's charitable donations.

Entrepreneurs who embrace the idea of fashion with a conscience are the subject of an article that covers a lingerie company in the US called Making a Difference Intimates (Madi), Toms shoes, and Warby Parker, which sells fashionable glasses online.

Madi donates a pair of its trendy knickers for every one that it sells. New, clean underwear is one of the most under-donated items to charity, and domestic violence refuges and homeless shelters for women often face shortages. This has clearly worked for this Madi customer, who says, "Shopping is usually a self-focused activity, and there's nothing wrong with that, but being able to give back while you're shopping makes it even better."

Toms' business model is built around the idea of 'capitalism with a conscience'. While aiming to make a profit, for every pair of shoes sold, they donate a pair of shoes to people in need in the third world. The founder and boss, Blake Mycoskie, lists his official title as "chief shoe giver", and he employs a 'chief giving officer'. However, they have been criticised for encouraging dependency - read this article to see how they are working to eradicate that, and also how Warby Parker is creating a sustainable model that develops the economy in the countries receiving their donations.

Penny Brooks

Formerly Head of Business and Economics and now Economics teacher, Business and Economics blogger and presenter for Tutor2u, and private tutor

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