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Beyond Profit: A Deep Dive Into Eileen Fisher's Philanthropic Side

The fashion industry has a far-reaching impact on the world, touching on economic, environmental, and social aspects. But it is not quite so common to see fashion brands practice sustainability and inspire positive change around us. One of the brands that does not fit this mold is Eileen Fisher, a clothing icon with a history going all the way back to the 1980s. 

Welcome to yet another edition of our new series, #BeyondProfit. In this piece, we will explore the philanthropic side of Eileen Fisher - a side that is often overlooked in the media. 

So, without wasting another moment, let's dive right in! 

Women’s Empowerment

Eileen Fisher has been a long-time advocate of gender equality and women’s rights. In 2011, they conducted a one-day donation drive in partnership with Bloomingdale’s. During this drive, of all the money they made from sales, they donated 3% of it to Women Thrive. It is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to empowering women from all over the world. 

While Eileen Fisher doesn't take a traditional advocacy approach, they do demonstrate a commitment to improving the lives and opportunities for women in several ways. For example, the brand has set up a department within the company that is dedicated to social concerns including initiatives for women. Another way Eileen Fisher shows support for women’s empowerment is through grant programs built around nonprofits working on the concerned issues.  

On top of that, Eileen Fisher has been supporting women-led businesses. One good example of this is its supply chain, where the company prefers to work with suppliers empowering women, such as Sri Lanka’s Women in Need. 

Environmental Sustainability

Eileen Fisher has been known to practice sustainability in all their business operations and supply chains, which is indirectly a huge contribution to climate action and the sustainability of our planet. In their Benefit Corporate Report published in 2022, the company claimed to have tracked the energy sources of 92% of its clothing manufacturers.

Other contributions of the brand towards a sustainable future include using sustainable raw materials in over 80% of its products and relying on safer chemistry for processing over 70% of its materials. To extend the life cycle of their clothing products, Eileen Fisher has introduced three stages into their process: First Life (making the products from new materials), Second Life (collecting reused and repaired products), and Third Life (upcycling items and downcycling fibers). With the extended life cycle of their products, the company can adopt a circular model that happens to be more sustainable. 

But that is not the end of it. In 2020, Eileen Fisher started shifting to the use of recycled plastic bags for packaging, especially for orders shipped from global factories to US-based distribution centers. By 2022, they had a fully functional system in place, which helped improve the company’s packaging score from 41% to 91%. 

Another factor worth considering when it comes to environmental impact is the usage of water and energy for washing and drying clothes. In 2021 and 2022, over 80% of the Eileen Fisher styles could be hand or machine-washed, amounting to huge savings in energy and water. 

Giving Tuesday 

Eileen Fisher has been working closely with non-profits like Giving Tuesday that work at the intersection of women’s rights and environmental sustainability. In addition to that, the company also made a contribution worth 25,000 USD to the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network  (WECAN) for the protection of the old-growth forest led by an indigenous group of women in the Tongass Rainforest.

Native people in Southeast Alaska have been working hard to protect their land. They helped bring back a rule that safeguards the forests from being cut down. This is good for the environment, the economy, and the traditions of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people who have lived there for a long time. 

Hey Fashion

Eileen Fisher didn't donate money this time, but they helped out in a different way! The company worked with their foundation, the Eileen Fisher Foundation, on a project called "Hey Fashion!" 

Being an online platform that provides information and resources to help people understand and address textile waste, this project aims to tackle the big problem of clothes waste around the world. They talked to many other companies and people to figure out how everyone, from stores to shoppers, can be part of the solution.

Clothing Donations and Gift Cards

In 2022, Eileen Fisher donated 45,269 items of gently used clothing to charities that work with underprivileged communities. These charities are mostly near the company warehouses in Seattle and New York. Some of the prominent names are Big Brothers Big Sisters, Dress for Success, American Red Cross, and Roosevelt Island Senior Center. 

Moreover, Eileen Fisher also gave gift cards to support local fundraising events for children's hospitals and women's causes.

Bottom Line

And that is a wrap of today’s edition of #BeyondProfit! Regardless of Eileen Fisher’s lackluster direct contribution to society, the indirect impact of their responsible manufacturing and distribution is nothing short of impressive. In this story, there is a valuable lesson for businesses of all sizes to operate responsibly for a positive change in the world around us.

We hope you enjoyed today’s piece on the philanthropic side of business. We are super excited to bring you the next segment of this series. Until then, stay tuned!


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