Twelve designers, 13 pieces, 100 per cent charity. To mark International Women's Day on March 8, Net-a-porter has partnered with a dozen female designers, who will create a collection of 13 one-off pieces spanning the fields of fashion, jewellery and homewear. These will be sold through the online fashion platform, which will donate 100 per cent of the profits to Women for Women International (WFWI). The initiative marks the fourth time that Net-a-porter – and its consumers – have come to the aid of the not-for-profit organisation which helps women living in conflict zones.
Big-name labels, bold themes
The designers and labels in question are some of the finest in their fields, including: Stella McCartney, Emilia Wickstead, Ninety Percent, Westman Atelier, Tove, Jennifer Fisher, Simone Rocha, handbag designer Anya Hindmarch, shoe and bag designer Amina Muaddi. Roxanne Assoulin and Alighieri represent the world of jewellery, while Anissa Kermiche brings her signature witty but risque homeware to the project.
Available exclusively on the site (itself founded by a woman, Natalie Massenet, in 2000), the collection comprises nine T-shirts, all themed around female empowerment. Irish designer Simone Rocha’s version is in pink, with the word "Sisters" written in gothic lettering, while Ninety Percent – the sustainable womenswear brand that gives 90 per cent of its profits to charity – presents one black and one white tee that read "Incredible Women".
Anya Hindmarch's T-shirt features artwork from Margaret Calvert's Woman at Work series that flips the well-known road sign, while ethical label Stella McCartney has created a tee of a cartoon woman warrior astride a fire-breathing big cat, and emblazoned with the words "Female Rebellion". Meanwhile, Roxanne Assoulin's signature stacked and colourful bead bracelet spells out "Kind Woman".
Top models lend their support
In addition to the high-profile designers, Net-a-porter has enlisted a host of prominent women to star in the accompanying campaign images. Modelling Ninety Percent’s designs are the British online street-dancing sisters The Jaiy Twins, while feminist author, activist and model Liv Little dons the top by Tove, which has “Womanhood” embroidered across the chest.
Salem Mitchell, the American model discovered on Instagram and famous for her full face of freckles, wears Simone Rocha’s top, while Japanese model and mental health activist Naomi Shimada, wears the “Extraordinary. Women” tee by Emilia Wickstead. Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Thierry Chow, who calls herself a feng shui designer and is known for her distinctive two-tone hair, sports Jennifer Fisher’s design, that reads “Unite Women”.
Helping the most vulnerable women in the world
Alison Loehnis, president of Net-a-porter and Mr Porter, explains why it was especially significant for the company to get involved this year. “After a year like no other, supporting and celebrating our global community of women has never been more important … We are proud to reinforce this commitment [to Women for Women International], while cultivating and inspiring meaningful change.”
WFWI works with some of the most vulnerable women in the world, those caught at the intersection of war, poverty, gender discrimination and the threat of sexual violence, and who face a daily struggle to survive. Founded in 1993 by Iraqi Zainab Salbi, herself a survivor of the Iran-Iraq War, and her husband, Amjad Atallah, WFWI has helped hundreds of women in the Balkans, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Afghanistan.
In 2017, it established programmes in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, to support women across Iraq and Syria, including Yezidi women fleeing ISIS brutality, while in Nigeria, it has helped women in Bauchi State escape violence at the hands of Boko Haram.
Brita Fernandez Schmidt, vice president for Europe and external relations, Women for Women International, explains why having the support of a worldwide platform such as Net-a-porter is critical. “Every woman has the power to transform her world and with this International Women’s Day campaign, Net-a-porter is investing in women who feel forgotten. Women survivors of war experience heavy burdens of poverty, violence and gender discrimination. Their daily worries of getting their children to school on time and ensuring there is enough food on the table are made worse by insecurity and instability.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has made life even more difficult,” Schmidt adds. “I am so grateful to everyone involved for using your voice and platforms to support women living in some of the world’s most dangerous places. By investing in women, we create a better world for all of us – a world that’s more equal, peaceful and prosperous. This collaboration shows the power of women, for women.”
The significance of International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global movement that celebrates its 110th anniversary this year, as a day to celebrate the achievements of women across all sectors, from economic, to social to political, and call for further equality.
With no political or geographical affiliation, IWD is an organic, independent movement that, as its manifesto outlines, “belongs to all groups collectively, everywhere”, reiterating that IWD is not “country, group or organisation-specific”.
The first IWD rally took place in 1911 across Austria, Denmark, Switzerland and Germany, when an estimated one million men and woman took to the streets to call for equal working and voting rights for women. In 1975, the United Nations marked the event for the first time, and introduced the concept of an annual theme, now taking place each year on March 8.
The theme for 2021 is “Choose to Challenge”, which invites supporters to pledge to challenge gender inequality, bias and stereotypes to help “forge an inclusive world”. In addition, supporters are asked to post to social media a selfie with one hand raised, with the tag #ChooseToChallenge. The colours for 2021 include purple, for justice and dignity, green, for hope, and white, to symbolise purity and to echo the Suffragette movement of the early 20th century.
In addition to donating every penny of the profit raised from the collection, Net-a-Porter will donate an additional $1 for every customer who posts on TikTok or Instagram using the tags #PowerToChange, @womenforwomen and @netaporter between Monday March 1 to Monday, March 8.