The top 5 fashion non-profits in Toronto
Fashion non-profits in Toronto don't forgo the importance of style in the face of adversity. Many of these organizations recognizes that sometimes the fashion industry can use help, too - whether in regards to helping new entrepreneurs launch their businesses, or promoting environmental standards for clothing manufacturers. Others see ways the fashion industry can lend a hand, helping less-fortunate residents look put-together and professional when, financially, it's not always easy.
Here are my picks for the top 5 fashion non-profits in Toronto.
The Toronto Fashion Incubator
The Toronto Fashion Incubator (TFI) is a non-profit that's all about small businesses and getting fashion industry entrepreneurs off the ground. Budding fashion students and newbies to the business world can join the organization's outreach program for access to their vast educational resources on anything from sales and marketing techniques to long-term business planning and networking opportunities. For $275 a month, resident members have round-the-clock access to TFI's creative studios in Liberty Village, a new designer's safe haven stocked with a full library of resources and expert mentors. Jeanne Beker approved.
Dress Your Best
Suits don't come cheap. Dress Your Best, run by the Live to Give Relief Organization, knows this struggle. The 14-year-old operation, which thrives off of used clothing and financial donations, works to help disadvantaged men in the GTA find gainful employment by providing them with professional apparel for job interviews and newfound careers. Image consultants meet with referred clients to help them find a personalized, professional wardrobe suited for first impressions and everyday use.
Fashion Takes Action
Sustainability is No. 1 for Fashion Takes Action (FTA), a Toronto-based non-profit that wants consumers to change the way they wear their clothes. FTA's goal is to inform folks on the social and environmental impact of fast fashion. They promote the use of sustainable fabrics, and educate fashion businesses and entrepreneurs about issues like unjust labour practices and toxic chemicals used in common fabric production. Their approachable, green-friendly campaigns make change seem easy, too: FTA encourages simple lifestyle changes like hanging your clothes to dry instead of using a dryer, wearing vintage or used clothing, attending clothing swaps, or monitoring how you use your washing machine and detergents.
Dress For Success
With 125 volunteer-run locations around the world, Dress for Success is the best known fashion non-profit currently working out of Toronto. Their objective is simple: to help women transitioning from unemployment to the workplace dress for the job they want, because sometimes, looking your best just doesn't vibe with your personal finances. A membership to Dress for Success also includes meetings under the Professional Women's Group (PWG) aimed to teach women who are unfamiliar with office dress etiquette how to get along in a corporate environment, handle their finances responsibly, and develop career-advancement skills.
Fashion Helps is the brainchild of Torontonian Sheila McElrea, a professional stylist who's using the fashion industry to support communities in need. The young organization's popular program, The Fashion Project: This Is Me, provides seminars and crafting opportunities for homeless youth (in collaboration with Horizons for Youth in Toronto) to build self-esteem, confidence, and think creatively about their self-image.
Inside the Dream
Dedicated to boosting the self-esteem of teens in less-than-desirable financial situations, Inside the Dream (ITD) is a charitable organization that provides free formal attire for Toronto high school students who can't afford all the fees that come along with looking nice for prom and graduation day. ITD's annual formal wear event, Boutique Day, is an opportunity for referred students to shop for dresses, tuxes, and accessories free of cost.
Did I miss any? Leave your suggestions for charities and non-profit groups that use fashion to help others in the comments.
Writing by Alex Brown. Photo via Dress For Success.