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Big brands join popular social movements

September 25, 2018

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Big brands join popular social movements

Racial injustice, gun control and fur-free products in the fashion industry are just three of the many social movements that have caught the interest of big brands this September and have put many consumers on the fence.

From Nike’s recent “Just Do It” campaign with former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick to San Francisco’s very own Levi Strauss anti-gun stance, these big brands are taking the role of activism into their own hands and beginning a new era of partnership.

On Sept. 17, Burberry implemented a new fur-free policy to all upcoming collections as a way to promote a “sea of change in the fashion industry.” Burberry has also decided to stop burning unsold merchandise.

During the 2017-2018 fiscal year, the company set approximately 28.6 million pounds of products on fire. The company publicized the environmentally-friendly changes during the highly anticipated New York Fashion Week earlier this month.

The Nike marketing team knew exactly what it was doing when it revealed the “Just Do It” campaign that read “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” announcing Kaepernick as its new spokesperson. 

Some Nike fanatics were so outraged by the company’s stance that many went as far as burning their products, believing it would make a difference on the company’s profound decision. Even President Donald Trump responded to the announcement, tweeting “What was Nike thinking?” after the launch of the campaign.

According to Wedbush Securities research, Nike received roughly 170,000 new Instagram followers after the ad was released and even hit a record high on stock shares this past Thursday.

Levi, the global company that represents the epitome of American freedom, made an official statement pledging its support towards preventing gun violence earlier this month.

“We are inspired by the young people who are speaking up on America’s gun violence epidemic,” the team said. The company established “The Safer Tomorrow Fund,” which will donate $1 million in grants to nonprofits and youth activists fighting the issue of gun violence. Levi also plans to partner with Everytown for Gun Safety and allow Levi employees an additional five hours a month of paid volunteer time “to get more politically active.”

Similar to Nike’s ad, Levi received complaints from consumers and even got a response from the National Rifle Association. On Twitter, the nonprofit gun-rights supporter tweeted, “@LeviStraussCo took a public stance against the #2A and singled out pro-2A customers. They have partnered with @Everytown for “Gun Safety” – who does nothing to promote gun safety. Everytown’s mission is to destroy the 2A and disarm law-abiding citizens.”

Levi has catered to pro-gun wearers for as long as the company and guns have been around, but since 2016, when a customer accidentally set off his gun while trying on a pair of jeans in a Levi’s dressing room, the two all-American companies have disputed over pro-gun issues.

Already in 2018, the bar has been set high for companies to openly speak on social issues instead of ignoring them to refrain from controversy. I applaud the actions of these three companies that have paved the way for activism at a higher scale. For once, consumers cannot only make a fashion statement while rocking these products, but also a political one.

What began with millenials trying to make a change has advanced far and high into the hands of prominent corporations. Your money talks, use it to make a political statement.

Featured Image Courtesy of Grant Richie on Unsplash

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