From students at my alma mater, McGill University, comes Moral Fibers, a socially responsible brand and t-shirt retailer that supports Haitian artists by featuring their artwork on vibrant polycotton blend tees. The artists themselves receive 15% of each sale, which amounts to 24 hours of minimum wage. In Haitian terms, that’s about the same amount of money needed to feed the artist’s family for a month.
Moral Fibers doesn’t stop there. Founders Matt Brightman and Martin Weiss, both undergraduates at McGill’s Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, are committed to a sustainable business model that impacts various areas of Haitian life without serving as just another charitable handout. With that being said, another 10% of sales goes to a charity or humanitarian cause that the artist him or herself has chosen.
What’s intriguing about Moral Fibers is its explicit philosophy regarding the potential impacts of social business and social enterprise. The Moral Fibers website reads: “Moral Fibers is not a non-profit, but it’s our company philosophy that no difference between a non-profit and for-profit affects the amount of good a company can do.” Certainly, that encapsulates some of what social enterprise is all about.
Moral Fibers offers duds fitted for both the ladies and the gents, all with beautifully bold artwork. The website includes the name of the artist, so it’s not a mere anonymous exchange, despite the likely class, race, nationality and geography differences between the artist and consumer.
Of course, the commodification of art for consumption purposes is nothing new. On the market are Jenny Holzer’s Keds and Tracey Emin’s Selfridges kitchenware, just to name a few. However, Moral Fibers takes a different route by offering a backstory, and indeed, it’s not the brand name you’re buying into, it’s the social side of things, and the hope that you’re contributing -- even in a small way -- to change and to building human capital in the less-industrialized world.
Moral Fibers Website
32 Rue Sainte-Georges