Two years ago during Breast Cancer Awareness month, we bailed out of our collaboration with the UK’s leading breast cancer research charity on a matter of principle.
Initially we were super excited to become one of their corporate partners. Aligned with other sponsors and household retailers, Marks & Spencer and Asda, we subsequently made our organic cotton yoga bra in the infamous ‘Wear It PINK’ colour to help promote their campaign during PINK October.
However, our ‘WE’VE MADE IT BIG’ bubble quickly burst when they asked us to drop our brand messaging, associated with our yoga bra, ‘Organic is Best for Your Breasts’.
Confused? So were we.
Given that organic cotton is free of harmful chemicals, it made sense that a sports bra made with organic fabric was a healthier option to wear against the breasts, compared to one that is manufactured with numerous chemicals, some of which are already known to be detrimental to human health.
Additionally during exercise, the pores open to aid thermo regulation, which in turn also increases the skin’s rate of absorption. So any substances that the skin comes into contact with, especially when you you get hot and sweaty, have a greater chance of accessing the body.
So what was the reason behind this leading UK charity’s request?
After much debate, it was explained to us that their other key sponsors didn’t use organic fabric in their styles, so they couldn’t be seen to be supporting our messaging, even though they understood it was a valid point.
So, if we were one of their key corporate sponsors, able to raise up to £2million in donations, would the outcome have been different?
Would they be raising awareness that many sportswear fabrics do contain carcinogenic chemicals and in fact organic fabric in sports bras is potentially a better choice for breast health?
Here’s the thing - the UK’s biggest breast cancer research charity are funded by private and public sources, with the overall objective of finding a cure for breast cancer. They are looking to fix us once we already have breast cancer with drugs they create from their research. Something we, and many others, who have been directly effected by the disease, will be forever grateful that they exist.
However, if you haven’t had breast cancer would you not consider that prevention is better than cure, and want to be privy to all available information, so that you can make informed choices about your own health?
So, do chemicals in clothing increase the risk of breast cancer?
Admittedly there is not much research out there about the impact of these chemicals on our health, however Greenpeace’s ‘Red Card for Sportswear Brands’, published in 2014, provided compelling evidence that it is something we should be paying attention to. Similarly their Detox Fashion Campaign, launched in 2011, has consistently demonstrated the huge environmental impact by these very same chemicals.
Akin to the organic food industry 20 years ago, people became curious about where their food came from, what was in it and how it was made. We became concerned that what we ate had a direct correlation to our health and well being.
Fast forward to now and how certified organic food is completely accepted as the most reliable way of eating chemical free food. Is the concept of ‘We Are What We Eat’ extending beyond our diets to other things that impact our lives, like clothes? Are we now considering ‘We Are What We Wear’ as well?
As a socially responsible business, our brand values are all about sustaining people and planet, its the key driver behind FROM. So despite the attraction of reaching thousands of women via this corporate charity’s reach, we weren’t prepared to dilute our messaging. With no compromise, we had no qualms declining their request, and staying true to ourselves and FROM’s philosophy.
If you'd like to know more about our Detox Activewear Campaign please don't hesitate to reach out.
Su Dodd, Founder FROM Clothing
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