Ethical and Freedom Fashion is the New NYFW

Elena Baxter

It was only a few years ago we started seeing social enterprises hit the marketplace. Businesses supporting artisans, giving a percentage of proceeds to organizations, etc. Today, we are riding the tidal wave of ethical alternatives to consumerism. However, the models are yet to be perfected and entrepreneurs are working inline with the change to see if we can do this even better. After some research, and a rare opportunity to do some discovery in SouthEast Asia, I learned of a new model called, Freedom Business. A Freedom Business is a company whose number one goal is to use its profits to employ more people, specifically, at-risk, exploited and trafficked individuals. The bottom line is sustainable employment and freedom. According to Shop for Freedom, Freedom businesses employ, train, provide dignified work, as well as offer a community of support to help women and men at high risk of being trafficked or exploited, an alternative option to earn money and create a sustainable and positive lifestyle for themselves and their families. 

This model has been around for sometime, however, it’s only recent that there has been a growing network of businesses unifying to create more business solutions to human trafficking, known as The Freedom Business Alliance. The group launched in 2016 as a result of 2-year BAM Working Group of 30 participants from 9 countries, with varying contexts, experiences, strategies, skills and backgrounds. Today, the network consists of over 100+ members in 28 different countries, offering over 2000 jobs to former victims. Their mission is so scale the freedom business movement. 

It's one thing to inform readers of this model, it's another to actually provide the opportunity to explore it. And When it comes to fashion, there is a lot of overlap of exploitation and human trafficking. Therefore, I’m excited to announce a beautiful partnership between Who They Are, THR3EFOLD and Arlo Hotels to host an Ethical PopUp Shop during one of the most notorious events of the year: New York Fashion Week. Starting on September 5, 2019, we will be offering consumers and fashion enthusiasts everywhere the opportunity to shop consciously. Every brand represented is ethical and supports a greater cause. More importantly, it’s going to expand the impact of freedom businesses. Along with the PopUp Shop will be the official launch of Who They Are’s Freedom eCommerce Boutique! People everywhere will have an opportunity to explore ethical brands and shop with purpose in one marketplace.


September 5 - September 7
Arlo Hotel, SoHo
New York, NY
*Special Launch + Panel event on the future of Supply Chains September 5th at 7P. Grab your tickets here!

September 8
Arlo Hotel, NoMad
New York, NY

Launching September 5th, 2019!

I travelled all the way across the globe to discover and see first hand what Freedom Business is and how powerful it can be. I learned about the importance of not just offering opportunity to men and women stuck in hard lifestyles, but unexpectedly, I was challenged by the way our western culture thinks of and talks about survivors of exploitation and human trafficking. We tend to hold onto their story, perhaps even leverage it (Ex: “She was sex-trafficked”), rather than uplifting their skill set, strengths and individualism that make them a beautiful human, much like everyone else. In Eastern parts of the world, the stigma of your past is what defines you, and it has prevented victims from leaving that world behind. However, a major practice behind these businesses is to focus on the potential of the individual and the future they are working towards. It’s not perfect, because the subject matter itself is a layered one, but the onus is on the craftsmanship, professionalism and quality of service provided. Just like any apprenticeship, these businesses are focusing on the rigorous training the employee goes through. The story of survivors no longer has to be what they did or where they came from, but what they are doing and where they are going. 

We hope you will join us on September 5th at Arlo Hotel, SoHo in New York for a special panel event discussion on Supply Chains and for the launch of the Ethical PopUp Shop (September 5-8). If you aren’t able to make it to our New York experience, the Freedom eCommerce Boutique will be open for business starting on Thursday, September 5th, 2019! The PopUp shop and the online Freedom eCommerce Boutique is our opportunity to be part of the way consumerism and the world is changing.  



Okhai | @Okhai_Org
Article22 | @Article_22
Outland Denim | @Outlanddenim

Proclaim | @wearproclaim
Lola Mayy | @LolaMayy
ONE432 | @one432
Sourcery Label | @sourcerylabel

Nineh | @Nineh_ny
Genusee Eyewear | @Genusee_Official
ECORenaissance + Marci Zaroff | @MarciZaroff
Parker Clay | @ParkerClayint

Who They Are | @WhoTheyAre
Arlo Hotels | @ArloHotels


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  • jaswilliam on

    Hello, I am Jas William, I love to wear Rajasthani hand block print, new designs. Really appreciate hand block print art and <a href= “”>Sanganeri Print is one of my favourite print.  

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