While recent political movements like #MeToo continue to make global headlines, Emily Priest reports on a Portsmouth business that uses fashion and body positivity to empower women, while raising money for female-centred charities and projects.
Generation Girl is a new Portsmouth fashion company created by students Hannah and Darby, but this is a business that is about more than just looking good. Generation Girl seeks to ‘keep women’s rights at the forefront of conversation and change’. For every item of their clothing line sold, 20% goes to women-centred charities and projects locally.
3 years ago, Hannah and Darby, both from Portsmouth, started studying fashion at Southampton Solent University. They bonded over their South Coast roots and became close friends. Now finishing their final year, they are business partners.
Hannah, Communications and PR Manager, says, ‘Generation Girl only started as a final year project. Last summer we started brainstorming and it took its own direction. It really developed through lectures and other women at uni. We never wanted it to be serious. We just wanted to focus on fun, creativity, self-love and diversity.’
‘We wanted to show people that fashion can be empowering too and not as toxic as people think,’ says Darby, Creative Director. ‘And, we want to bring fashion to Portsmouth. Not everything is up in London.
‘We want to make it cool to care. We want to merge activism with fashion.’
Since Generation Girl began less than a year ago, the business has grown significantly: working with the Women’s Institute, Aurora New Dawn, Southern Domestic Abuse and local dance troupe Neptune Girls. The duo focus on reworking donated clothes to add flare to the local fashion community and to bring confidence to women in need.
Hannah tells me about a recent project with Southern Domestic Abuse, ‘We ran workshops with domestic abuse survivors where we taught them how to upcycle old clothes. Sometimes these women only have the clothes on their back. We show them how to make clothes that are fashionable, that will make them feel good and confident.
‘It’s so nice that they want to work with us, these people and organisations,’ Hannah said. ‘I think that is the best thing, the support we have got. We just want to engage people.’
Earlier this year the duo created a JustGiving page to help raise money to create their unique fashion line. They raised well over their £500 target and are now on their way to achieving their goal.
But it’s not always been easy for the gal pal team.
‘The university didn’t like it,’ Hannah says. ‘They only cared about how this made money and was sustainable. But we only want to focus on social good and change’.
They pushed through and Generation Girl will soon be launching their website and female-inspired fashion brand. But Darby and Hannah don’t want it to just be about women.
‘We don’t want men to feel excluded. Even though we have a strong female following, we want a male following too. Even though our designs are unisex, we want to take the clothing line further to accommodate both,’ they say.
This is only the beginning of the duo’s plans. In the future, Generation Girl aim to run fashion shows and catwalks as well as developing their upcycling and charity workshops. They want to help develop the local cultural scene and spread positivity across Hampshire.