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Article: A Feminist Brand: How Y.O.U Underwear Empowers Women

On a teal background, there's a cut out B with a picture of women in our underwear and the text 'The Women Behind the B'

A Feminist Brand: How Y.O.U Underwear Empowers Women

This International Women’s Day, we’re shining a spotlight on all the women that make Y.O.U Underwear the company it is today. It’s a spotlight that isn’t just being turned on for one day – it’s been on since we can remember, and we’re never turning it off!

We’re a feminist brand that’s on a mission to increase access to education and employment for vulnerable women and girls. As well as supporting women and girls through donations, we work with India's leading ethical and sustainable manufacturer to ensure that nobody is exploited in our supply chain.

At Y.O.U, we do everything we can to promote equality and to empower the women throughout our business, including our makers, employees and lovely customers. This B Corp Month, let’s take you #BehindTheB and show you how!

We work with India’s leading ethical and sustainable manufacturer

From the very beginning, we wanted to build a close relationship with a supplier that shared our drive for fair fashion. That’s why our underwear is made by Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills in Kolkata, who employs approximately 1,000 workers across 3 factories.

Our manufacturer operates under SA8000 certified social standards, which provides a holistic framework for the fair treatment of workers. This ensures that there is no child labour or discrimination for race, age, sex, political opinion or religion, and enforces working hour compliance, minimum wage compliance, overtime compensation and incentives and rights of Freedom of Association. These measures - alongside additional company benefits, such as transport to and from the job site and funding for workers’ children’s education - are designed with gender equality in mind. So is the use of GOTS Certified Organic and Fairtrade cotton. Fairtrade is instrumental in addressing issues of gender equality, including voting rights, pay equity and equal training opportunities. Our manufacturer is externally audited on a regular basis to ensure compliance with the necessary standards and certifications.

4 women sit on the edge of a pier in our KikoRomeo Mara colourful african print organic cotton underwear

We donate underwear to vulnerable women in a bid to end period poverty and improve access to education 

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals provide a crucial impact framework for us to measure our social and environmental performance. We are particularly committed to SDG 4 (ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education) and SDG 5 (gender equality). Both goals are intrinsically linked. Women and girls on their periods are most at risk of social exclusion when they don’t have appropriate underwear. In some communities it is estimated that 1 in 10 girls miss school on their periods due to a lack of underwear and sanitary products. Without proper period protection, they’re left with no choice but to miss school – up to 12 weeks a year! This translates into a considerable divergence in educational progress and access to opportunities.

We help women overcome this barrier to education by donating underwear. We have a buy-one-give-two promise in partnership with Smalls for All, a Scottish charity that collects and distributes underwear to vulnerable women and children in Africa and the UK. So far, we have donated over 20,000 pairs of underwear, and are well on our way to reaching our target of 23,000 pairs by 2023. We also support Smalls for All by donating 10% from the sale of every face mask sold.

We don’t stop at donating underwear from our core collection. For every item sold from our Mara Collection, we will provide a pair of underwear to girls in the Maasai communities of Oloishobor and Olorgesailie, as well as supporting the work of the Ajuma Foundation in Kenya The African-Inspired prints are designs by KikoRomeo, a mother-daughter design duo based in Kenya. They work with Maasai women's groups to bead some of KikoRomeo's designs, and that beadwork is what inspired our Mara prints.

As part of our goal to fight period poverty, we have also partnered with Just A Drop to donate £1 from every sale of menstrual cups in support of their Menstrual Hygiene Programme in the Wakiso District of Uganda. Currently in Uganda, girls are missing between 8 and 24 days of school each year, equating to around 14% of the school year, with a further 2.5% of girls having to drop out of school completely. Your donation will help support children across three schools to produce, market and manage the production of reusable sustainable menstrual pads and soap. This method helps girls to manage their periods hygienically and with dignity whilst at school.

We donate to Future Dreams, a charity supporting those touched by breast cancer 

For a brand that sells bralettes, we think it’s important to support the women that wear them. That’s why we donate £1 from every item sold in our light pink range to Future Dreams. Future Dreams was founded by a mother and daughter who were both diagnosed with the disease. They never wanted anyone to feel like they were going through breast cancer alone. Future Dreams funds vital research as well as working with the NHS to distribute care packages to those going through treatment and donating post-surgery bras to those who cannot afford them. They recently opened Future Dreams House, the only specialised breast cancer support centre in the UK.

We are an accredited Living Wage Employer 

We’re firm believers in equal pay and closing the gender pay gap, which is why we’re a Living Wage Employer who pays all staff at or above the local Living Wage. As an ethical business, we’re committed to operating in an inclusive manner. We hope to provide a collaborative, supportive and transparent work environment by, for example, offering flexible working hours, a budget for training and upskilling opportunities and 12 paid sick days a year for period-related problems.

A row of women stand with their backs facing the camera, hand in the air

We ensure our marketing is representative 

We’re an underwear brand which means we have a responsibility to promote realistic impressions of women’s and men’s bodies. We took the Ethical Move pledge and vowed to adhere to the principles of ethical marketing. We promise to show an inclusive and diverse group of people in our images, and never to edit or airbrush our photos. We’ve had models from ages 18 to 80, and sizes 8 to 18 in our photoshoots and we’re always working to improve our sizing and show how our undies look on the amazing humans who model for us. 



Written by Melissa Watt

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