Fashion is getting political. We see it on the catwalk, as well as the increasing amount of industry people speaking up, and now we see it on the high-street.
As always, high-street giant H&M group is in the lead – H&M has teamed up with WWF to reduce waste and as of this summer Monki’s head office got LGBTQ certified.
Now Weekday, a brand known for its ability to grasp the zeitgeis,t has taken a stand against violence.
Earlier this month the retailer presented its new Peace Force initiative in collaboration with the non-profit organisation The Non-Violence Project.
The collaboration involves a Peace Force network, entailing nine individuals, who have been affected by violence and choose to fight for a peaceful future. Along with that, a limited collection inspired by The Non-Violence Project’s knotted gun symbol was released, offering Weekday’s customers a chance to promote the peaceful message as well.
“This project is very much a collective effort,” explains Blaise Oberson, CEO of The Non-Violence Project Foundation. “We bring our extensive experience working with educational initiatives and teaching non-violence communication, while Weekday created a collection inspired by our work and found spokespeople within their target group who could continue the work of NVP for a new audience.”
And getting the message to reach a wider audience is important for The Non-Violence Project. The organisation has operated since 1993 but is still rather unknown to most of the youth today.
“A collaboration with a fashion brand like Weekday that attracts young people, is a way for us to further spread awareness about our organisation, what we do and why we do it. We want to reach out to young people around the world and a fashion collaboration opens a window we don’t usually have,” Oberson says.
For Weekday, political projects are far from uncommon. The brand has a history for advocating issues within the fashion industry and society as whole.
Karin Hagman, PR manager at Weekday says: “We are not a brand that shies away from complex topics. We want to speak up about the things that are important to us and as we have a platform to say something, it would be horrible if we didn’t.”
She adds: “If you read the paper or watch the news, you know that street violence, domestic violence and cyberbullying are a major problem throughout the world. Something needs to be done and we want to engage people in that conversation.”
Today only two out of ten adults in the UK are likely to experience crime. But, although the number of violent crimes is decreasing those that do happen are often more harmful. Last year, there was an increase of 22% for knife related crimes together with an 11% increase in crime involving firearms.
And violence does not only amount to the physical kind. It entails acts of cyberbullying and verbal abuse as well. The latter being the second most common reason for children need protection in the UK.
“Even though there is a great deal of violence, there is also a lot of like-minded individuals who are frustrated by the political and social situations that surround them, and who are fighting for change in their community,” says Hagman. “With this project, we tried to connect those fighting for peace, to give them a new platform to share their voice while also sharing our own demand for peace.”
Buying a scarf might not turn a violent home into a calm one, but it starts a conversation about violence.
“We believe that to help promote a more peaceful society we need to address the problem instead of ignoring it. Fashion is a very strong messaging tool, and hopefully, when a fashion brand speaks up it gets the attention of people who might not know how to get involved or make their own statement,” Hagman adds.
Accompanying the project is a short film presenting the nine Peace Force members who, across different languages, share their individual stories with violence to show that no one is alone in their experiences.
“With this peace force team, we can tell other people that they are not alone in experiencing violence. We can tell them that no matter how difficult their experiences were, we can use those experiences as an inspiration and a drive to speak up and stand up for something positive,” says Oberson.
This is only the beginning for the Peace Force. With this project Weekday hopes to start at three-year collaboration with The Non-Violence Project, to help inspire even more young people to stand up for peace.