treeToday I’m going to talk about the latest trend in fashion: Social-Conscious Apparel. The who’s who of brands are now developing a business plan that allows their clientele to support a cause through the purchase of their products. These companies are “giving back” through financial donations, donation of physical goods and the “one for one movement”.  Socially responsible apparel brands give consumers the option to escape the factory-brands and divulge in products that they can be proud of.

kidsAs someone who lives my life upon the motto “Service Above Self” I cannot help but feel connected to these give-back brands. So, let me tell you about a couple of my favorite MUST HAVE brands!

braceletsPura Vida BraceletsThis is, hands-down, my ALL TIME favorite jewelry brand. The story of this company is one that can’t be topped! What started as a “college graduation trip to Costa Rica turned into a business venture for two Southern California friends Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman.” After meeting two local artisans, these two friends began to share the “Pura Vida” lifestyle through their wonderfully colorful, hand-made string bracelets from Costa Rica. Each bracelet passes on the meaning of the phrase, to live a “Pure Life”. Not only does the purchase of everything bracelet help support local artisans in Costa Rica, Pura Vida Bracelets is a 1% for the Planet member and donates a portion of its proceeds to the Surfrider Foudation. Additionally, Pura Vida Bracelets carries a “Charity Collection” line where they support over 160 different causes and organizations through the purchase of these awareness bracelets.  You can learn more about this AMAZING brand and purchase their products HERE.

GroupTOMS Shoes

TOMS is another brand that I am absolutely obsessed with. “When you buy a pair of TOMS shoes, you’re also helping improve the health, education and well-being of a child.” TOMS is one of those “one-for-one movement” brands I talked about earlier. With every purchase of a pair of TOMS shoes, TOMS puts shoes on a child without. shoes

“On their own, shoes have a limited ability to change a life. But when combined with programs run by our Giving Partners, they can become a powerful toold in helping create opportunities for a better future.” TOMS also carries eyewear with the same “give-back” quality of their shoes. “When you buy TOMS Eyewear, you’re helping restore sight-which in turn restores independence, economic potential and educational opportunity.”

This brand is saving and changing lives all over the world. Not only are their products RIDICULOUSLY cute, but they help so many people when you purchase their shoes or glasses. You can shop TOMS here.

sunglassesSOLO Eyewear

SOLO Eyewear is a unique line of hybrid bamboo sunglasses where each pair purchased help funds a pair of reading glasses and a cataract surgery for someone in need. The concept for SOLO Eyewear was developed in a classroom at San Diego State University.  Jenny was enrolled in the MBA Program.  While completing an International Entrepreneurship course, she was given the option to read Paul Polak’s Out of Poverty.  While reading the book, she discovered there was a great need for eye care around the world and decided to research the issue further. Jenny, who has poor vision, encountered two startling statistics: approximately 1 billion people do not have access to eye care and nearly 80% of the world’s blindness is preventable.  (World Health Organization)

Vision to giveThese statistics were a call to action… the idea for SOLO Eyewear was born. It wasn’t until meeting Craig and Dana at the Entrepreneurship Center on campus that the idea became a reality.  Craig and Jenny hit the ground running, meeting with local entrepreneurs and advisers while Dana put her design skills to work developing all of the amazing graphics and website. Since launching in 2011, SOLO Eyewear has restored vision for 2,400 people in need across the world. Shop SOLO Eyewear HERE.

If you have any questions about these brands and why I love them I’d love to chat!

bianca-214x300Bianca R. Kofman is a senior at San Diego State University majoring in Kinesiology and minoring in International Studies. Originally from Monterey, California, Bianca moved to San Diego for college and will be graduating in May, hoping to pursue a career in nonprofits and international business. She joined NSCS during the spring of her freshman year at SDSU and is a member of Delta Gamma-Epsilon Sigma Chapter, Rotaract and Mortar Board. Visit her website to talk about community service, travel or business or connect with her on Linkedin. Click here to view her other writing samples and blog posts. Visit her advice column.