Is there a place for benevolence in the fashion industry?
Benevolence means having a positive impact on the world. Is it a new trend, or a deep need?
In the past decades, we've seen benevolence emerging in marketing through high tech companies, especially in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco. The contrast between the successful tech startups and the homeless people forced the mayor of San Francisco to act for good. He changed his policy and offered a tax reduction to the companies that would take their office in the center of the city, like tenderloin. Did it have a positive impact? Yes, LinkedIn and Twitter help every month by giving food, blankets, and many other goods. Are they forced to do it? No, does it solve the problem? Not really. Are they the first ones to do charity? Also no. But it changed the way they work and think about their product.
That may be an example far from the fashion industry, but did it impacted the way we look at, consume, produce clothing?
If benevolence means having a positive impact on the world, it would be stupid to imagine that fashion couldn't have one. But if we think about it, where do we find benevolence today in the clothing industry?
After interviewing a large enough panel of women, from 15 to 45yo, coming from every social environment, I realized that social networks play a huge role in the way we perceive ourselves. It goes from our body image to our intellectual capacities. Everything is questioned and generally not in a proper direction. The cosmetics and fashion industry are mainly responsible for this situation happening because the way they advertise is too aspirational and not real. Their target doesn't relate to their messages in the end; no one is happy.
How can we be more benevolent in the fashion world?
Benevolence starts in the way you produce your product. Some successful brands like Everlane are a great example. With transparency, they inform their consumers on the provenance and manufacture of every item they sell. Who does it? Where is it sourced? How does it ship to your apartment? The consumers have access to all of that information.
The product itself can also be "benevolent"; Means, having a size range wider, creating a product and a fit more respectful of the woman's body. The possibilities are endless.
And, most importantly, in their advertising messages. Being real and authentic is not a trend that will go away; it is a need. Your, our, their audience is well educated, and know what they want; being respected, heard, considered, and loved.
That's why brands have a superpower. Being benevolent is not childish, it is the only way to succeed nowadays, and leaders have proved it.