Fashion That Changes Lives

We all know there are those in the world who are suffering because of high poverty levels and poor economic times; but thankfully, there are companies who are ready to change that all. Companies around the globe have been devising and implementing plans to create unique pieces of clothing, accessories, and footwear to enhance the lives of those less fortunate. Sustainability is also the new fashion craze, and many clothing companies are not only looking for ways to be environmentally sustainable, but also in ways to help sustain people throughout the world as well.

The multiple lines vow to create a better life through the "one-for-one" concept (where one item of clothing or necessity is given to someone in need when one is purchased by another) or by providing work for people throughout lesser developed countries. One company after another latched onto this idea and the concept certainly has exploded as the public is starting to understand just how a simple hat or pair of shoes can change someone's life dramatically. With the simple concept of giving back to the world, many are beginning to wonder why hasn't this been done ages ago?

A clothing line we recently featured, Edun, is just one initiative to change the world. Edun is a clothing line aimed at building economic development and focusing on sustainability in Africa. Other fashion lines have followed suit by benefitting the less fortunate in one way or another. Here is a list of just a few companies that are worth taking a look if you not only want to dress in style, but want to help the world while doing so.

Krochet Kids International: Krochet Kids International focuses on the mantra of "Buy a hat. Change a Life." They look to sustainable living through providing Northern Uganda families with an opportunity to break free from spending their lives in government camps. Krochet Kids International has developed a sustainable cycle of employment and empowerment. When you buy a hat from them you are not only keeping your head warm, but are changing a life.

Toms Shoes: Toms has created a "One for One Movement" where with every pair of TOMS shoes or TOMS eyewear you purchase, they provide a child in need with a pair of shoes or prescription glasses. Having seen that many children in developing countries often go barefoot, the company was founded on ensuring children had comfortable shoes to wear in order to prevent soil-transmitted diseases among them, which are very prevalent in developing countries. The one for one movement is ever so strong and continues to shine through other companies as well.

Warby Parker: Warby Parker was developed as an initiative to create "eyewear with a purpose". With prescription eyewear for under $100, the company has crafted 27 unique styles that focus on the fashion forward way of thinking with a vintage-inspired twist. For every pair of eyeglasses purchased through Warby Parker, a pair of prescription eyeglasses is donated to someone in need.

Reach Clothing: 2 Reach and Be Reached is the mantra Reach Clothing and creator Tyson Baker, vow by. Tyson was moved by seeing homeless people with a limited amount of clothing; that's why when you buy a t-shirt from Reach Clothing, a t-shirt will be donated to someone in need. It truly is that simple.

Howies: Howies focuses on developing high quality products that will not only last long, but will be functional for the outdoors lover inside of you. The company looks towards the earth when creating products and does so in a sustainable manner using only eco-friendly products. Howies pledges to give 1% of their turnover or 10% of pre-tax profits to grass-roots environmental and social projects around the world. The company is still growing and will continue to give more to sustainable projects as they grow.

Do you wear anything that creates a sustainable world?

Photo: OhNo!Doom Collective

Edun Offers 25% Off Fall Collection

With the official launch for Edun's Pioneers Project and Fall 2011 Collection well underway, Edun is offering a special discount for our readers. As you all know, I am one of the featured men for Edun's Pioneers Project and I was honored in hosting their launch party last night at my restaurant, Red Rooster.

Each week, a different Edun Pioneer will be featured on Edun's website, and this week I am featured along with my story. Read my Pioneers feature by clicking here.  Not only am I featured on the site for this week, Edun is also giving everyone a special discount off of the entire Fall Collection by using our promocode: friendsofmarcus at your checkout. With that promotional code, you'll receive 25% off on all Fall Collection items until Sunday the 18th!

So check out their line now to get their high fashion at a lower price! To read more about Edun, click here. Also check out photos from last night's launch of Edun's Pioneers.

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Pioneers Reflect on the Mission of Edun

By: Cyndi Amaya

With the launch of Edun's Pioneers Project last Sunday, business owners are turning their attention towards the activist message behind the clothing company. Started by Bono and wife Ali Hewson, Edun is a sustainable fashion line aimed at building economic development in Africa. Their mission is to promote fair trade in Africa by showing respect at all steps of clothing production- from collecting the raw materials, to the production, and finally to the consumer. With those thoughts in mind, Edun creators wanted to showcase 12 men as models for their Fall 2011 Collection who are also driven by the same goals of raising awareness for a philanthropic cause. The 12 "Pioneers" share a wide range of professions, from nonprofit founders, to filmmakers, to an athlete, and chef. During the Edun Pioneers Project Launch Party at Red Rooster, I got a chance to meet some of the stylish men selected for the project and ask them their thoughts about the mission behind Edun.

With over 10,000 miles on his legs, famous runner Jonathon Prince has run across the country through many campaigns to raise money for the less fortunate. Jonathon appreciates what the founders are trying to achieve through Edun. "It's not just lip service, it takes action to get people behind your cause, and that's what makes connection with the human spirit," says Prince. Being able to identify with a business like Edun which is trying to cause change, Jonathan started running to raise money for Hurricane Katrina victims after feeling a certain void in his life; "I felt like I was kind of just floating, there was no substance or passion in my life. So I decided to tie running and helping, together without really knowing if I could. It worked out."

That same human connection was what Pioneer Jeffrey Azize was trying to capture when creating his award-winning documentary "The Human Experience." As Jeffrey illustrated, "I went out with my brother Cliff and traveled the world asking people 'What does it mean to be human?' and we found that there were four concurring themes in everyone's responses. Everyone from a homeless person in New York City to a leper in Africa, these four elements united everyone we encountered: Family, Faith, Hope, and Love." Jeffrey traveled throughout 18 countries in over a year to create the film, and hopes that by "networking together with Edun, we can help each other out through social media, to bring that message of hope to people."  Another recurring theme brought up by Azize was that Edun (is) "real"; "they have an authenticity about them, which is kind of like a reflection of us and our mission with Grassroots Films."

That same idea of authenticity on behalf of Edun was shared by Pioneer Sean Carasso, founder of Falling Whistles which aims to raise awareness of child soldiers fighting in the war in Congo. "They're pushing the envelope and we need more problem solvers like them," says Carasso of the founders of Edun. Sean was truly honored to be considered a Pioneer by Bono and Ali Hewson, who were quite aware of Falling Whistles and its mission and hope to continue their support his organization in the future.

Ultimately the mission of Edun is to not only develop economic growth in Africa through fair trade, but also to inspire other companies to do so as well. The same idea was behind the start of the eyewear company Warby Parker. Founders Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa started Warby Parker as a way to transform the optical industry. "We realized that the technology behind glasses was invented over 700 years ago and much innovation hasn't taken place since then; so the rise in prices for glasses didn't make much sense. So we provide prescription glasses for $95 that are the same quality of a $500 pair of glasses," states Blumenthal. While Warby Parker is a for-profit company, it works alongside other nonprofit companies to provide one pair of glasses for children in the world who cannot afford prescription glasses from every one pair sold by them. The company also currently has a line of sunglasses that raises money for Invisible Children. Just like Edun, "we want companies to not only think about what drives profit but to also consider their customers as well."

Clearly, the organizations that these Edun Pioneers are behind, and Edun itself, are not only making changes in the industries they're involved in but are also helping to change how people view business and profits in general. As stated perfectly by Dave Gilboa, "we need more companies that do the same and promote fair trade. We want to celebrate it and by working together we can get more companies to also help make a bigger impact in the world."

For more information about the Edun Pioneers Project and all the men selected for the campaign, please visit www.edun.com/pioneers. Edun is also offering 25% off of their Fall Collection when you use the promocode: friendsofmarcus at your checkout. Click here for more info.

Photos: Cyndi Amaya

Edun Launches Pioneers Project At Red Rooster Harlem

Last night, Red Rooster had the honor of hosting the launch of fashion line Edun's Pioneer Campaign for Fall 2011 Collection. Edun, started by Bono and his wife Ali Hewson, is a clothing line aimed at building economic development in Africa, as well as sustainability. In the heart of the company lies their mission to promote fair trade in Africa and to show respect through their entire fashion chain; from raw materials, to the production, and finally to the consumer. To illustrate this, Edun selected to feature and photograph 12 stylish men who also aimed at inspiring others to fight for just causes. The 12 men included all young and active men fighting for a cause in some form or another. They call this campaign their "Pioneers Project." Marcus Samuelsson was selected as a model among other impressive names like Graham Hill (founder of Treehugger.com), Jim Moriarty (CEO of Surfrider Foundation), Adam Braun (Founder of Pencils of Promise), Jonathon Prince (Runner and Philantropist), Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa (Founders of Warby Parker Eyewear), Sean Carasso (Founder of Falling Whistles), and Jeffrey Azize (Actor and Artist).

Each week, a different Edun Pioneer will be featured on Edun's website, and this week Marcus and his story are available for readers to gander at. Check out their website here to read about Marcus and be sure to use our promocode: friendsofmarcus at your checkout to receive 25% off on all Fall Collection items until Sunday the 18th!

After showing Edun's Fall Collection yesterday during Fashion Week in NYC, Bono and Ali Hewson hosted the Pioneer's Launch Party at Red Rooster Harlem for their friends and colleagues. Here are a few photos from yesterday's cocktail party and the behind-the-scenes at Red Rooster leading up to the event. Stay tuned for more in-depth interviews with more Edun Pioneers tomorrow on our site. Until then, check out Edun and their Fall Collection.

Photos: Cyndi Amaya

Edun's Pioneers Project

Since 2005, Ali Hewson and U2's Bono, have been not only leading in the world of fashion with their clothing line Edun, but have also been inspiring others to help develop trading in Africa. To this day, Edun still works with the belief that style should have substance while it brings work and growth in Africa.To help bring attention to some supporters of Edun and their mission, Edun's Fall/Winter 2011 Men's Wear Campaign took a different approach by featuring 12 stylish men and their own missions within the community. Edun's "Pioneers" Campaign highlight 12 "social entrepreneurs that are effecting change in business, the arts, and the environment."

I have the pleasure of being featured in their "Pioneers" Campaign and I hold it as a true honor since I sincerely admire Edun's mission, as well as their clothing. I encourage everyone to check out Edun's Fall/Winter line and what they are all about. To read more about Edun, click here.

Check out the video below for a peek at Edun's Pioneers Campaign:

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Photo: luce_beaulieu