Ever wondered how you could support ethical, sustainable businesses? Welcome to a regular series highlighting products, services and organizations that are ‘doing well by doing good’.
RALLIER is a fashion brand designed and made in NYC that remixes the classics—and uses proceeds from the sales of their designs to fund school uniforms for girls in partnership with Shining Hope for Communities. We caught up with Founder and Designer Olivia Rose Wright to find out more about her mission to battle gender inequality through her work.
*The following interview has been edited and condensed.
How would you describe what Rallier does in just 3 sentences?
Rallier is a womenswear brand rooted in signature uniform dressing. Designed and made in New York, Rallier reinterprets the classics through a decidedly modern lens in order to create pieces that customers can wear as a uniform of their own. For every dress sold, school uniforms are sourced from regions plagued by gender inequality and given to local schoolgirls.
What was the inspiration for Rallier?
I started Rallier after discovering that the cost of school uniforms was keeping girls around the world out of school. I think we can all relate to the influence that clothing has on where and how we decide to show up. In coming up with Rallier, it was important to me that the social mission be authentically connected to the brand. I love the connectivity between giving a girl the uniform she needs to go to school and creating pieces that allow our customers to define their presence in their own day-to-day lives.
What is the deeper purpose that drives your work?
I am constantly driven by the fact that wearing Rallier engages our customers in a larger conversation about gender equality. This is a brand that uses design to connect you to something larger than yourself. That really drives me.
What are you proudest of?
Three years ago, I saw the documentary Girl Rising and was shocked to learn about the millions of girls around the world who are denied access to education. I was deeply disturbed by what I learned, but initially thought there wasn’t a role for me to play with my fine arts and fashion background. Research led me to a study in Kenya, which found that giving school uniforms to students who did not previously own one reduced school absenteeism by 64%. Even in schools without a uniform requirement, girls likely wouldn’t go to school if they didn’t have a school uniform. Discovering this allowed me to see how a fashion brand might play a role in increasing girls’ access to education. I am really proud that I’ve been able to bridge the gap between two seemingly disjointed worlds.
How do you strive to differentiate yourself from your competitors?
For me, our biggest differentiator is the connection between wearing Rallier as a signature uniform of your own and giving a girl the uniform she needs to go to school. There is something really unique about this link.
What is the best feedback you get from your customers?
We have two customers who felt so strongly about the brand that they now contribute professionally. We’ve received a lot of extremely kind emails, but choosing to change your professional trajectory in order to help Rallier is grow is probably the best early-stage feedback we could ask for.
What is your favorite story about Rallier since it was started?
Before Rallier launched, I took a trip to Kenya to visit the girls who would be the recipients of the uniforms. The trip allowed me to test my assumptions by speaking directly to the girls about how their uniforms made them feel, whether or not they liked wearing them, etc. I asked one girl, “what do you think of when you think of a school uniform?” She responded by saying, “I think of a perfect girl.” I then asked, “who is a perfect girl in your mind?” and she replied, “she’s the girl who goes to school.”
What difference do you strive to make in people’s lives?
I really strive to unleash the power within our customers. There is no power quite like conscious consumerism—it’s an undeniable strength that so many are now rightfully claiming. Just this week we’ve seen several examples of that. Nordstrom deciding to drop Ivanka Trump’s brand is a direct effect of individual consumers claiming their power.
Where can people go and what can people do to support Rallier?
You can see and buy the collection at www.rallier.com. Also, we are now offering try-on services in NYC. You can email email@example.com to setup a fitting and we’ll bring the collection to you! Lastly, we’ll be popping up in Canal Street Market for the month of March. Come say hi! I will be there on most days and am happy to chat with anyone who is interested to learn more about Rallier, my experience with our non-profit partner, or the fashion industry in general.
What do you see in Rallier’s future?
We just turned a year old! Our first year was really focused on defining the brand and understanding our core community. Looking forward, we’re excited to pursue more partnership opportunities and explore adding new product categories to the mix.
Afdhel Aziz is the co-author of book ‘Good is the New Cool’, a book on brands and social entrepreneurship available on Amazon now.
If you have a suggestion for a business or organization you think should be highlighted, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org