What you wear doesn’t have to just be a materialistic item – these 7 brands have created products that encompass more than visual appeal. Each brand was built on a different mission, but they all were established by surfers that hope to inspire positive social change.
1. The People’s Movement: The People’s Movement uses organic, recycled and re-purposed materials to create shoes that support grass root groups. Each year, The People’s Movement partners with urgent causes to solve world issues. This year, they have partnered with the Plastic Pollution Coalition, a group dedicated to stopping plastic pollution and it’s toxic impacts on humans, animals and the environment. For every pair of sneakers sold from the “Clean Act” collection, $1 is donated directly to the Plastic Pollution Coalition. You can also support The People’s Movement by joining their surf club, a group dedicated to monthly beach clean-ups, rewarding themselves with a group surf after the work is done. You can even charter your own club and The People’s Movement will send free gear to support your efforts.
2. Freewaters: Freewaters co-founder Eli Marmar designed wetsuits for seven years before they learned more about the issue of clean water. According to their site, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation every 20 seconds, and 1/6 of the world’s population does not have access to clean water. Now, they use green materials to create casual footwear. The profits from each pair help directly fund their grassroots water projects – continuous well-digging to provide access to clean water, using a technique developed by Water for All International. As Freewaters gains support, they hope to implement even more purification techniques worldwide.
3. Rareform: Inspired by a six-month surf trip through South America, Rareform was created to reduce waste in the world and sustain the world’s playground – its mountains, rivers and oceans. Rareform has championed the fact that billboards can be upcycled and turned into bags. By partnering with Lamar, the nation’s largest outdoor advertising company, Rareform receives a substantial amount of discarded materials that they personally wash, cut and then sew in to each paddle or surf bag. Rareform has joined Patagonia in donating 1% of its sales to support planet preservation and restoration of the natural environment through the organization 1% For the Planet. Rareform has also partnered with Swipe for Humanity, so anytime a purchase is made from their online shop, Swipe for Humanity redirects 50% of the fee to The Kind Campaign, a non-profit promoting kindness amongst females and discouraging bullying. Rareform is supported by its many outdoor ambassadors, including professional surfer Jon Rose, ASP Tour photographer Kirstin Scholtz, and The Inertia’s Zach Weisberg.
4. Jedidiah: Jedidiah puts its faith in the consumer to make purchases that will have a positive social impact, which is why a percentage of all profits directly supports their individual charity partners. Their current partner is Not For Sale, an organization fighting modern day slavery around the world and providing survivors of human trafficking with rehabilitative resources. Surfing has always been a part of Jedidiah, represented by their numerous surf ambassadors and past partnerships. Surfaid, an organization that works to improve health and wellbeing of isolated regions connected to us by surfing, was one of Jedidiah’s largest partnerships. Surfing The Nations, which uses the sport of surfing as a medium to give back, was another partner that used Jedidiah’s donations to provide for the food distribution center in Hawaii and establish a surf club in Bangladesh. Jedidiah is also a sponsor of the annual Grom Bomb Charity Surf Contest, which donates all proceeds to helping provide food, water, clothing and medical needs to children in Haiti.
5. The Soul Project: “There are unique places in the world that seem to captivate people and resonate in a way that other places don’t” said Summer Meek, co-founder of The Soul Project. “These are our Soul Places, and one of the most ironic things is that even the most beautiful places in the world face significant challenges every single day.” The Soul Project supports local groups that work on preserving the future of each Soul Place. The founder’s favorite Soul Places are Laguna Beach, Del Mar and Newport Beach. Their site has a section for each Soul Place to share secret beach spots, favorite hikes and organizations to support. You can even add your own Soul Place and start The Soul Project in your area. To support local groups, The Soul Project features apparel items showcasing the work of local artists concerned with preserving the beaches, culture and community. $1 from every purchase goes directly to children and environmental charities local to your Soul Place.
6. Apolis: Two surf-enthused brothers traveled abroad 9 years ago, finding personal stories of struggle and survival. Inspired by the people they met and stories they heard, Apolis was created to bridge commerce and economic development. Apolis means “global citizen”, supporting the idea that people can live better lives when they are given equal access to the global marketplace. So whether it means partnering with manufacturers in Uganda, Peru or Bangladesh, the Apolis brand works to empower people to determine their own future. Currently, Apolis is documenting their trip to the Middle East, where they’re searching for manufacturing partners, as well as the perfect wave. In addition to producing their empowering brand, Apolis has partnered with a small artisan co-op in Bangladesh to produce the 100% recycable Market Bag. As more Market Bags sell, Apolis is working to establish the Bangladesh Sewing Academy, purchase new sewing machines, and provide women with employment training. Apolis features
many films on their sites, spreading the stories of their advocates and leading industry activists.
7. Pura Vida Bracelets: Two college graduates fell in love with the simple Pura Vida lifestyle of Costa Rica, the culture that surrounded them, and the people they met. Out of their passion for the laid-back lifestyle grew Pura Vida Bracelets, which aims to provide full time jobs for the artisans of Costa Rica. While traveling all around Costa Rica, the college grads also noticed an accumulation of trash and debris on the world’s beaches. With a passion for surfing (Pura Vida Bracelets was a supporting sponsor for the 2012 U.S. Open of Surfing), it killed them to see the beaches become a garbage dump. This led Pura Vida Bracelets to partner with 1% For the Planet, directing a portion of all proceeds to the Surfrider Foundation, an organization dedicated to cleaning and preserving beaches and oceans around the world. Pura Vida Bracelets now supports over 150 charities, with $1 from each bracelet benefiting the designated charity.
Honorable Mentions: Tackling social problems and inspiring positive change outside the realm of surfing.
Threads for Thought: Have you ever thought about what is used to make the clothes you wear? Threads for Thought fabrics are made with sustainable materials like organically grown cotton and polyester produced from recycled water bottles. They use low impact dyes with purified, reused water. In addition to providing environmentally-friendly clothing, Threads for Thought supports The International Rescue Committee in their efforts to help people survive and rebuild their lives after major crises. Threads for Thought creates and donates “Shop the Cause” products, sponsors events and acts as a “cause” partner by providing financial contributions that enable refugees to find solutions to survive and thrive in the United States. The International Rescue Committee is in over 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities, aiding refugees forced to flee their homelands from conflict or disaster.
Serengetee:When a group of college friends toured marketplaces in over 30 different countries, they were captivated by the fabric patterns from each culture they visited. Their mission behind Serengetee is simple: reflect the colors and symbols of a country by incorporating their pattern into clothing. With this mission, Serengetee is able to connect people throughout the world to embrace
their culture and give back to the communities that inspired each pattern. Each pattern created by local fabric makers around the world is paired with a cause relevant to the area. 13% of each purchase then goes directly back to the cause, supporting the culture that designed the pattern.
Altix: After visiting Guatemala City, the largest garbage dump in Latin America and home to over 11,000 people, the idea for Altix was born. Altix is a brand that hopes to challenge the belief that the Guatemala City inhabitants are defined by their surroundings, explaining the partnership with the Potter’s House Organization, dedicated to improving the lives of those living in the garbage dump. For every purchase of Altix’s Heroshoes, 10% is donated directly to the Potter’s House Organization. However, Altix’s mission does not end in Guatemala. The brand was built on a dream to break down barriers for all people, allow them to reach new heights, and chase their personal aspirations regardless of their position in the world. In an attempt to further this dream, Altix has donated to various local charities and organizations, the American Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, and continues to seek more charitable partnerships.
FEED Projects: A child dies because of hunger or malnutrition every five seconds, and one in seven people around the world go to bed hungry every night, according to the FEED Project’s site. Upon learning these devastating statistics and traveling with the UN World Food Programme, the first FEED bag was created. FEED Projects is dedicated to creating product that help feed the world, with a set amount being donated from each product’s profit. FEED products are created with environmentally-friendly and artisan-made materials, along with fair-labor production. By providing children with proper food and nutrition, they are given a chance at a healthy life and the opportunity to break out of poverty.
Know of a brand not mentioned that’s making a difference for the better? Please share with The Inertia community in the comments below.