Our Bechdel Test Of "Feminist" Fashion

"Show Your Girl Power This International Women's Day!"

"IWD Essentials!"

"Embrace yourself with Hilary Duff's newest eyewear collection on International Women's Day!"

As a market editor, I get thousands of email subject lines like this. It's starting to feel like International Women’s Day — and feminism in general — has become an opportunity for brands to make a buck in the name of gender equality. It’s ironic that as an editor, a customer, and a feminist, all of this leaves me feeling pretty icky — not empowered. The graphic tees, feminist necklaces, girl-power products, and exploitative PR pitches are getting downright disturbing. It’s become obvious that not all brands who are participating in International Women’s Day realize that equal rights should be more than just a one-day thing.

This isn’t to say that brands cannot use International Women’s Day as an opportunity to truly do good. There are plenty of brands that pride themselves on gender parity and support women year-round — and in this case, IWD initiatives do actually advance their efforts and the cause in general. But there are many gestures that are hypocritical. What good is an "I Love Feminism!" sweatshirt when a company doesn't also pay its female employees as much as its men? Or when "10%" of proceeds — the seeming going rate for International Women's Day — only amounts to a couple hundred dollars for charities, but lots of free publicity for the business? Paying lip service to a day that has deep roots in how we hire women, pay them, support them, and advocate for them without actually doing those things is misleading. In that spirit, we're setting a standard to sniff out opportunism. Somewhat of a Bechdel test for fashion brands, this is the Feminism For Sale test.

And so, to warrant coverage on Refinery29’s fashion page this year, we're focusing on brands that 1) will be donating at least 20% of their IWD initiative proceeds to a worthy female-focused cause, 2) practices gender parity 365 days a year, not just on International Women's Day, and 3) is selling a product/design that actually has to do with their business.

Why 20%? According to retail analyst Paula Rosenblum of RSR Research, that is the break-even point where brands would make as much as they donate, given traditional mark-up costs and delivery fees. "Everyone's entitled to make a few bucks," says Rosenblum. "But are they doing this year-round, or are they actually paying the women that sew the clothes 40 cents an hour and then going, 'Yay, it's women's day?'"

With that in mind, you may notice this list is likely a lot smaller than it should be. Nearly every fashion label has an International Women’s Day initiative that’s in "celebration of women." But only a few labels are exhibiting real female empowerment. In fact, out of roughly 100 International Women's Day-related pitches we received, only about 18% of the initiatives pass the Feminism For Sale test. The rest either make no mention of proceeds being donated, do not explicitly state what portion of proceeds are being donated, or will only be donating anywhere from 2% to 15% of proceeds (and thus easily profiting from said product).

In a time when it's all too easy for brands to jump on the feminism bandwagon to get good press, we want to highlight the brands that are truly putting their money where their mouths are, today and every day.

So, with all of this in mind, click ahead to check out of the IWD products that passed the Feminism For Sale Test.

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Eileen Fisher has designed a limited-edition tank with a special pattern that spells “The Future is Female” in Morse code. The brand is donating 100% of the proceeds to Ignite, an organization that’s empowering young women to become tomorrow’s leaders. Over the years, Eileen Fisher has regularly donated to various causes around human trafficking and female empowerment.
SoulCycle is donating 100% of proceeds from its A.L.C. x SoulCycle International Women’s Day tank on March 8 to StepUp. The tank top was designed specifically for International Women's Day by A.L.C.'s Andrea Lieberman and will be sold online and in participating SoulCycle studios for for $48.
Female-founded clothing brand La Ligne has partnered with artist, poet, and author Cleo Wade on a limited-edition T-shirt, aptly called The “AccountabiliTEE,” which features Wade's words and handwriting: "I will tell on you."

The AccountabiliTEE is available for purchase starting March 8, on LaLigneNYC.com for $35, with 100% of proceeds donated to Time's Up, an initiative founded by women in entertainment for women everywhere to fight systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace.
Designer Rachel Roy will be appointed to UN Women as a Champion of Innovation on March 8. To celebrate, Rachel created a mini LOVE capsule collection, exclusive to RachelRoy.com, ranging from $55 to $209. 50% of proceeds will benefit Time’s Up and EveryTown.

Rachel Roy is an active philanthropist. Over the past eight years, she has created more than 20 capsule collections that support many charities and organizations.
Lunya has an ongoing relationship supporting Girls Inc. year-round, and in honor of their partnership, the brand has designed a custom muscle tank with 100% of proceeds supporting the charity. Additionally, Lunya is partnering with fellow female-founded brands Jenni Kayne, Janessa Leone, and Vrai & Oro to donate 10% from every purchase across all their sites through March 10.
Female-founded, direct-to-consumer, and sustainable clothing brand ADAY is launching a limited-edition set of postcards for International Women's Day. At checkout, customers will have the option of adding in their ZIP Code, and ADAY will pre-address the postcards to their local senator.

The postcard designs were crowdsourced from ADAY’s Instagram community, enlisting the help of IG-famous illustrators and artists. ADAY will donate 100% of all proceeds from IWD and postcard sales thereafter to The Malala Fund, a nonprofit that works to secure girls’ rights to a minimum of 12 years of quality education, particularly in the global south, truly achieving the international scale of IWD.

The postcards are available on ThisisADAY.com, free with purchase on March 8, and available for $12 for a limited run after 3/8.
Fossil has announced a partnership with The ONE Campaign to join #GirlsCount, a movement to provide every girl with access to education. The brand has created a limited-edition canvas tote with a rose gold heart, and 100% of the proceeds of the #GIRLSCOUNT canvas tote will be used to help ONE advocate for girls to get the education they deserve.

Fossil will also be partnering with Create & Cultivate during March 10-11 in Austin to celebrate "Women to Watch," an experiential conference to bring women together.

The #GIRLSCOUNT bag will be on sale at Fossil.com and March 10-11 at the Fossil Pop-Up Shop in Austin (The Refinery, 612 Brazos Street).
All of the proceeds from Stella & Bow’s "NASTY" bracelet will benefit Planned Parenthood (and they have for the last year). The "NASTY" bracelet retails for $44 and is available for purchase online. It features a 14k gold-filled chain with plastic letter beads.
Carbon38, a company built by women, has launched an International Women’s Day capsule collection available exclusively on Carbon38.com. The collection comes in shades of symbolic purple, and in addition to donating $100,000 to Girls’ Inc., the nonprofit that provides life-changing resources to at-risk young women, 100% of proceeds from the limited-edition range during the month of March will be donated to the LA chapter of Girls’ Inc.
For the MILLY x Girls Inc. Capsule collection, an ongoing partnership, 20% of proceeds on the tees, sweatshirts, and pouches will go to Girls Inc. of NYC.
The2Bandits , founded in 2008 by female designer Tamar Wider, is committed to making a difference this March by donating 20% of all online proceeds from its limited edition Women's Day Collection to the Global Fund for Women.
Alison Lou founder and designer Alison Chemla has paired up with sister Lili Chemla’s women’s clothing line, Liana, to create a girl-power T-shirt to celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month this March. The T-Shirt ($68) benefits Planned Parenthood with 100% of sales going to the organization. This isn’t the first time Alison has supported the cause; her ever-popular Girl Power collection, which was released in March 2017, has been worn by the likes of Paris Jackson and Emily Ratajkowski.
Lingua Franca will be donating $100 for each of its custom "You Don't Own Me" sweater ($380) it sells to the Resistance Revival Chorus fund and Alliance for Quality Education in honor of IWD. All of Lingua Franca's sweaters are hand-stitched by women in NYC.
RE/DONE created a limited-edition sweatshirt to celebrate equality in partnership with the ACLU. Inspired by signage from a 1960s women’s march, the black hoodie ($195) reads “!equal!” in red. All of the proceeds will go to the nonprofit. Since launching, Re/Done has made it a priority to give women vintage denim that fits in a modern way.
Philanthropic luxury shopping site Olivela has partnered with global nonprofit humanitarian organization CARE on a special initiative, "Creating Choices." The partnership will donate 20% of all proceeds towards paying for a year of education for refugee girls at risk of becoming adolescent brides. Pati Dubroff, Meagan Morrison, Serena Goh, and more have curated shopping boutiques. Olivela will kickstart the entire initiative by funding each boutique with its beneficiary's first 25 days of school and has pledged to fund 30 of the most imminently at-risk girls.
Universal Standard is celebrating International Women’s Day by donating all of its profits on March 8 to First Step and Dress for Success, two organizations dedicated to helping women return to the workforce. Last year, the brand launched a revolutionary size exchange policy that empowers women to replace their garments free of charge if their size fluctuates over the course of a year. Clothes returned with Universal Fit Liberty are then carefully laundered and donated to First Step and Dress for Success. As a women-founded and -led company, it’s part of Universal Standard's mission to support all women.
Twenty percent of all proceeds from Cynthia Rowley's "Girls With Dreams Become Women With Vision" T-shirt ($80) will go to the Girls Scouts of the USA for International Women's Day. Rowley has had a hand in numerous fundraising and female-empowerment initiatives in recent years, partnering with the CFDA Foundation, Everytown, UNICEF, and more.
Cynthia Rowley and Lingua Franca have also collaborated on custom berets ($125) for IWD with the phrases “Come Together,” “Rebel, Rebel,” and “Dream Big.” The Girl Scouts of the USA will receive 20% of the proceeds.
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