The Report: Shopping Can Save Lives

The Report is a blog series created to showcase the Festival's Fashion Writing finalists. Writers are sent to Arts, Ideas and Independent Runway events, to take a closer look at the diverse program beyond the runway, and explore fashion that takes us to galleries, stage, screen and more.

 Serena is currently studying Art History and History and is an avid oil-painter, illustrator, and writer.

She regards fashion as an art form that we live our lives in and believes that an interest in style presents women as a self-assured, innovative and powerful individuals. 

It’s safe to say that nearly everyone has felt that pang of guilt about shopping. Do I really need more clothes? Will I ever wear this? When will the cycle of materialism ever end...? With the continual growth and revolutionary work of philanthropic organisation i=Change, soon these questions, along with gender inequality, will hopefully be long gone.

i=Change is a platform that enables online retailers to give back, linking business with purpose and customers with impact. The process works by making it simple for brands to donate $1 from every purchase to a charity of the customer’s choice. This system creates a transparent form of donation that actively involves both retailer and consumer in facilitating change.

Founded in 2014 by Jeremy Meltzer, this idea has the potential to change the entire way that we view the fashion industry. Not only does it quench the guilt of consumerism, but it also creates a global fashion community that connects and empowers women.

Meltzer’s motivation behind this endeavour was founded when he encountered the violence tolerated towards women in Latin America. The non-for-profit organisations that i=Change collaborate with are focused on closing the gender gap within not only developing countries but also our own backyard.

Catherine Ross, the Growth, Partnership and Communications Manager for i=Change shares Meltzer’s determination, noting how “the challenge for NGO’s working to end inequality has always been access to funding, so i=Change exists to provide a new and sustainable funding source” which acts to propel women and girls’ development organisations forward.

By harnessing the power of retail, i=Change “makes it easy for brands to give back” whilst rewarding brands with the benefits of doing so. Ross also reiterates the growing commercial importance of retail philanthropy, with 93% of millennials wishing to shop with a brand that gives back. Not only does it engage shoppers on an emotional level but i=Change will hopefully evolve into a “new normal expected by customers”.

Amongst the bounty of amazing work achieved, i=Change has helped brands like Pandora Jewellery raise over $38,000 for Women’s Community Shelters in Australia, and helped Plan International provide 9,070 sanitary kits so young girls will not be forced to stay home from school because of their periods.

The fashion industry is dominated by women, so why shouldn’t it be supporting our rights? i=Change enables immense change, liberating the oppressed and reinventing women’s fashion as a philanthropic powerhouse rather than a vapid money pit. Change is within our shopping carts, and it’s only one click away.

Hear founder Jeremy Meltzer speak about why he started this innovative online platform and why these brands have sided with fashion as a force for good.

Fashion as a Force For Good will take place Wednesday 7 March, 5:30PM at the Builders Arms Hotel in Fitzroy. Fashion as a Force For Good is part of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival Ideas Program.

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