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Rounding up fashion purchases to benefit women making those clothes

When shopping with participating brands and retailers, customers are invited to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar or make an additional donation. Proceeds will be donated to projects that empower and educate women working in clothing factories.

It's the first consumer-facing program by Fashion Makes Change, a collective effort by the fashion industry to deliver on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, focusing foremost on women's empowerment and climate action. Participating brands include Michael Kors, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Chloé, Nordstrom, Theory, Larroudé, Markarian, Ralph Lauren, Coach, Everlane, Madewell, Eileen Fisher and Abercrombie & Fitch. Selected brands will be matching donations made by customers.

In addition to being implemented through retailers' own offline and online sales systems, FMC has also partnered with Shopify, which now offers a merchant app that allows any Shopify seller to seamlessly add an FMC rounding-up option to their store.

Training for women will be handled by the Empower@Work Collaborative, and will tackle subjects such as health, financial planning, problem solving and decision-making and gender equality. As stated by FMC's Chair, Cara Smyth: "The truth is that the old way of doing things is not solving the problems. Incremental change isn't good enough. We are moving too slowly. Education is the great equalizer. In particular, investing in women builds resilient communities."

The fashion industry has indeed been moving too slowly. Research by McKinsey shows that the sector was responsible for around 4% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, and the exploitation of garment workers is reported with dismal regularity. The fact is that most of our clothes are made in countries where workers' rights are either non-existent or not enforced. So rounding up when making a purchase might seem like a tiny drop in a huge bucket. However, it's a step in the right direction. Consumer awareness is key, and reminding people of their impact every time they make a purchase could actually make change happen.