Every year on 19 August, World Humanitarian Day is marked worldwide. First created in memory of the 22 victims of the 19 August 2003 bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, the United Nations General Assembly formalised the date as an annual event in 2009.
It’s a time to remember humanitarian workers who have been killed and injured in their work, and honour the health workers who have provided life-saving support to those in need.
The theme for 2020 is #RealLifeHeroes, a campaign that remembers and pays gratitude to people who save and protect lives, “despite conflict, insecurity, lack of access and risks linked to Covid-19,” according to the UN.
This includes humanitarians on the frontline treating and caring for patients with Covid-19, as well as people providing food, supplies and shelter to those in need during lockdown.
One way you can play your part is by donating to charities that do essential work, but you can also shop with brands that are supporting the Covid relief effort or tackling wider humanitarian issues, whether that’s poverty or persecution.
Therefore, we’ve curated a guide to the fashion brands that are supporting humanitarian causes, so that you can invest in your wardrobe with some feel-good purchases.
It’s especially relevant as the fashion industry has its fair share of ethical issues, particularly with garment workers being exploited, underpaid and mired in poverty, in order to make cheap lines of clothing.
While tackling these bigger issues may feel overwhelming, individual actions can bring about change, and shopping with brands that are supporting good causes is a great place to start.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Brands to buy with
Next time you’re shopping online, make a more considered purchase by buying with a fashion brand that’s committed to donating money from sales and profits to charities supporting those most in need.
This sustainable fashion brand designs womenswear luxury wardrobe basics, from knitwear to loungewear to dresses, that will outlive trends and instead keep you stylish throughout the seasons.
It shares 90 per cent of its profits between charitable causes. With each garment, there is a unique code on the care label, which allows you to vote for which charity you would like to support.
The charities are; BRAC, which empowers women living in poverty to have access to health and education; Children’s Hope, which provides education for underprivileged children living in Bangladesh’s Dhaka urban slums; War Child UK that supports children affected by conflict, along with wildlife charities Big Life and WildAid that help endangered species and the illegal wildlife trade.
We love this tencel ditsy black maxi skirt (Ninety Percent, £80) that’s perfect for pairing with a white tee and sandals in summer, or layering with a leather jacket and over the knee boots in colder months.
Shop Ninety Percent now
Danish fashion brand Carcel employs women in prison from some of the world’s poorest countries to manufacturing its clothing. It creates a safe environment for women to work, gain new skills and financial independence.
It also works with the UN and International Labour Organization to fairly pay workers a living wage based on local market rates.
Its do-good approach also extends to its materials, as it uses sustainable and locally sourced fabrics such as silk and alpaca wool.
Our favourite piece is this silk twill long skirt (Carcel, £154) that’s made from 100 per cent silk in Thailand.
With a bias cut and invisible zip, it’s a colourful but wearable piece that you can dress up or down while adding colour to your wardrobe.
Shop Carcel now
This New York-based jewellery brand works with local artisans in India and their families to provide them with trade work including making jewellery and crafting with wood, alongside mentorship, literacy classes and business education to provide them with employable skills.
Complying to Fairtrade standards, its pieces are a mix of abstract, minimal and artistic styles that make beautiful gifts or a treat to yourself.
We’ve got our eye on these gold aarc stud drop earrings (Nectar Nectar, £67.24) that will add a statement shine to any outfit.
Shop Nectar Nectar now
This sock brand uses Indian organic cotton for all its products, supporting small cotton farmers in the country for its manufacturing.
It’s created an ethical workplace took, using no child labour and paying its workers minimum wage with overtime compensation that is all Fairtrade.
It also contributes to charity causes such as treating HIV, ending poverty, fighting malaria and providing disaster relief worldwide.
We’d recommend picking up this three-pack of socks that build homes (Conscious Step, £26.67). The brand donated $1 per pair to Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organisation that builds affordable homes for families in need.
Shop Conscious Step now
Luxury jewellery brand Dinny Hall, designs contemporary, modern pieces from its Notting Hill studio.
Using diamonds, gemstones and metals, all of its material are ethically sourced and the supply chain supports labour and human rights, considers the environmental impact and mining practices.
Its Suffragette collection supports Women’s Aid, as a percentage of proceeds from its sales go to support its work providing life-saving services to survivors of domestic abuse.
One of our favourite pieces is this gem drop line bracelet (Dinny Hall, £325) that’s adorned with white topazs, green peridots, and violet amethysts.
Shop Dinny Hall now
Ethiopian based clothing and bag brand, Carry117, empowers women to join the workforce and helps them provide for themselves and their families.
It hires women in Korah, an urban slum, trains them to sew and provides them with paid work. The products are sold in Ethiopia at bazaars and business, and in the USA at schools, churches, trunk shows and festivals, but you can also buy online from their Etsy shop.
This leather glasses case (Etsy, £17.46) is top of our shopping list. Available in tan, nude, brown and black, it’s a protective little case that’s ideal if you’re always misplacing your glasses.
Shop Carry117 now
Sustainable period product brand Thinx creates washable, reusable underwear designed to replace pads and tampons. They can be worn alone or with other period products if you feel you need extra protection.
It has partnered with non-profit organisations, Girls Inc., Safe Horizon, and the Alliance of Border Collaboratives, to help women and girls have better access to basic hygiene products and community services like reproductive healthcare and mentoring.
In our guide to the best eco-friendly period products, we tried the hiphuggers (Thinx, £30.27) and found they lasted well through an intense workout and were very comfortable throughout the day. There’s a wide variety of colours and cuts to choose from too, including a line for adolescents and for bladder leaks.
Shop Thinx now
Charities to donate to
If you’d prefer to make a direct donation to an organisation that supports a cause close to your heart, here’s some inspiration:
This organisation spearheads fundraising campaigns for 240 NHS charities across the UK.
During the coronavirus pandemic, it has raised £130m in donations, which will go towards covering the cost of accommodation for parents who have sick children in hospital, looking after the wellbeing of NHS staff and volunteers, keeping outpatients connected to mental health services and funding resources to help Covid patients with recovery.
This charity works with elderly people, providing companionship, advice and healthcare, while conducting research into how to make later life better.
During the pandemic, loneliness has been prominent issue for elderly people, and this will only be heightened as they continue to shield while others return to normality as lockdown eases.
By donating, you can help its network of support providers continue their work, which includes an expert help line that offers elderly people someone to talk to.
Grassroots movement and non-profit organisation Beauty Banks was founded by journalist Sali Hughes and PR director Jo Jones in 2018 to help combat hygiene poverty.
Through donations by post and via drop-off points across the country from retailers, influencers, brands and individuals, it redistributes cosmetics and hygiene products to women’s refuges and charities.
It has also teamed up with Easho, an online retailer, to allow you to donate remotely, by buying products online and having them sent directly to Beauty Banks, as well as encouraging you to kick-start your local beauty bank with starter kits on its website.
11 best women’s ethical fashion pieces for £50 and under