Mixing Fashion With Justice

With so many movements emerging around the world there’s never been a more vital time to stay woke and raise awareness for important causes

The rise of social media and acceleration in digitalisation has meant the impact of news has moved faster than ever. One brand making moves to serve as a channel to a wider audience is Socially Awear. Asiana TV caught up with the founder by night, trainee solicitor by day, 24-year old Umar Tahir on the inspiration behind such a hard-hitting brand.

Asiana TV: Tell us about the inspiration behind the brand and where it all started
Umar: I’ve always had an interest in helping others. Early last year I took a trip to Lebanon and volunteered at Syrian refugee camps. It sounds cliché but the experience was life-changing. When I came back to my daily routine and seeing everyone around me living their everyday life it made me realise how blind we are. It really frustrated me, so I wanted to create a channel to raise awareness.

How did the product line come about?
One day I was looking at t-shirts on the Internet. They were for Palestine, but I realised the quality was bad. I thought ‘what if I started a brand which made good quality pieces but with meaning?’ Fashion influences people right now. If I could create a cool, luxury brand which remains relevant and has purpose, the message could create a trend which leads to a wider awareness.

How has the process been since starting up?
I’m learning a lot. As I develop the brand, I become more aware of wider issues. For example, I wasn’t so aware about climate change until I did more research. The more research I’ve done the more I’ve redirected my intention and goals to create a brand which is sustainable and ethical also.

Does the brand remain ethical?
Yes. Everything in the brand is ethical. The clothing is sourced from fair suppliers with a fair living wage and good working conditions with no child labourers. All the clothing is vegan approved, no animals are harmed in the creation, and it’s made from 100% organic cotton.

How does the design process come about?
Every design that we do represents the actual issue that’s going on. So for example, the FREE THE UYGHURS design; the bars of the prison are actually a barcode, so it represents that not only is the Chinese government taking away the freedom of the Uyghur people, they’re taking away their humanity. The ‘NOT MADE IN CHINA’ part of the design is a protest against the clothing industry which uses Uyghur forced labour. A human rights coalition have estimated that 1/5 of the worlds cotton products sold originate from Uyghur forced labour so we aim to take a stand and spread awareness through our designs.

Has your intention behind the brand changed?
Initially, I wanted to start it as a business, but the focus has changed. I’m less interested in the business side of it now and more interested in the purpose behind the brand. The aim of the brand is to create a platform to spread awareness and do good from.

What can the audience do to support?
Each item of clothing has a QR code on it which directly takes you to the specific blog post on that issue. Each blog post also contains petitions and donation pages to support.
Simply purchasing the pieces, reading the blog posts and donating to the causes will help aid the change and raise awareness.  
(This can be found at www.sociallyawear.co.uk)

How do you decide which charities to team up with when providing donation pages?
We only work with charities which have a 100% donation policy. If a global issue comes up, we do our research and team up with charities which operate under this policy. We set up a page to donate directly to these charities so the audience know anything they’re giving is being received by the right people and will help the cause at hand.

Are you concerned with the effect of the current state of the world on your brand?
Initially, I was cautious but now I’m not as fussed with how well things do. The goal is to keep spreading the message. The platform is aimed towards spreading awareness from a non-biased standpoint and that’s what remains important to me.

Is the reactive nature of the current climate pressurising for your brand?
Yes. It’s pressurising in the sense of wanting to get a blog post and awareness out there immediately. However, there’s so many issues in the world it is hard as certain topics have to be prioritised.

What role has social media played in launching your brand?
A big role. That’s what we use to spread awareness. News outlets can remain biased but through providing snapshot informative images on our Instagram there’s also a direct link to go back to the blog for further information. A lot of causes now create awareness through social media as opposed to news outlets – it’s how our world operates right now.

What is the step-by-step process in achieving your aim of spreading awareness?
Three steps:
• Become aware of the issue. Our designs are used so people can see and share on social media, thus creating awareness.
• Internalisation. People need more information. This is where our blog and QR codes come in – to feed legitimate and non-biased information on such key topics affecting the world. Once internalised, the third step comes in.
• Change. Our ultimate goal is to create change in the world.

Umar continues: Although we are small right now, as long as we can raise awareness, we can create change in the world. We want to remain a channel in which this perception is spread.

A forward-thinking brand which provides all the information needed. Buy the merch, check out the blog posts on global causes, take a look at the donation links provided and get your friends and family to scan the QR codes on each piece to aid in raising awareness for such issues! Socially Awear has a strong future ahead and we, at Asiana TV, can’t wait to see its growth.

To support the platform and get involved check out Socially Awear at:
WEBSITE: www.sociallyawear.co.uk
INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/sociallyawear