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16 March 2021
One year after Breonna Taylor died at the hands of Louisville police, ARMEDANGELS presented the first in a series of t-shirts supporting activists. Printed on shirt #1 in the 'Solidarity Series' are parts of a powerful speech delivered by Tamika D. Mallory, in which she voiced the state of emergency faced by Black Americans. For each t-shirt sold, 100% of profits will go to Until Freedom, an organization co-founded by Mallory to fight systemic and racial injustice.
Future editions in the series will highlight other frontline activists. The shirts are priced at EUR 39.90 and ship internationally. Besides providing a financial contribution, t-shirts are of course walking billboards, and ARMEDANGELS is inviting its customers to share and amplify activists' messages.
When brands get involved with activism, they can understandably be met with scepticism. Last year, as Black Lives Matter gained momentum, companies started speaking out against racism. If they'd never done so before, their messages were likely to be regarded as little more than performative.
To show genuine empathy, words need to be backed up by actions. And this is where ARMEDANGELS gets it right. First off, BLM is no longer front and center the way it was last year. Acting now demonstrates that the German brand wants to help keep the movement going, not just hop on board for a few news cycles. Secondly, the notion of solidarity is woven into the company's existing practices — as a fair fashion label, ARMEDANGELS strives for decent working conditions throughout its supply chain, from cotton farmers to denim stitchers.
So, should your brand take a stand? Yes! But to truly make a difference, stick with it for the long haul, and make sure your words align with your actions. If they don't, be transparent and specific about what you're doing to improve.