5 influencers in Toronto and the GTA show us how they wear their hearts on their sleeves—so to speak
BY INGRIE WILLIAMS
An amazing sense of style inspires others. That’s especially true when what you wear supports—and spreads the word about—an amazing cause. At the heart of the fashionable items shown here is the belief that supporting communities can be regularly woven into anyone’s sartorial expression. Whether it’s a striking lip colour that helps fund Indigenous education, or an eye-catching T-shirt that shines a light on important local issues such as homelessness (and goes with everything in your closet, BTW), there are plenty of ways to dress up and make a difference. Here, five of Toronto and the GTA’s chicest influencers style themselves with socially conscious gear and share how they speak up and make a difference in their communities. Giving back has never looked so good.
Maayan Ziv, founder of AccessNow, an app that lets users rate a location’s accessibility
“Inclusion and the celebration of diversity are the issues I think about all the time. I try to keep things really simple on purpose, from what I wear to how I engage with people. I hope that simplicity allows others to be less intimidated and feel fewer barriers to be a part of something. As someone living with a disability and also building a company that’s focused on bringing people with and without disabilities together, that level of inclusion is something that I’m working towards.”
“Causes that aim to foster, educate and support the younger generation resonate most with me. I spent a lot of time working with Big Brothers and Big Sisters in my 20s, which is where I learned the importance of mentorship. Sometimes children need to be inspired by an older confidant to aspire to be someone great. I think we’re living in an empowering time right now where millennials are valuing community and positivity, and I’m super optimistic that we’ll see more and more partnerships between generations that will result in some really powerful stuff.”
Wearing:Peace Collective Home is Toronto Varsity Crew Neck in Forest Green or Black, $65.
Supporting: The Breakfast Club of Canada. With every garment sold, Peace Collective donates two meals to a Canadian child in need.
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“A general sense of giving back and awareness is important to me. It’s allowed me to learn about so many incredible initiatives happening in our city and around the world, from Skylark Youth and Sistering (both United Way-supported agencies) to Human Rights Watch. I’m particularly drawn to the mental health and youth communities, having volunteered for Children’s Book Bank, Lane6 and SOS Children’s Villages Canada. Yet that doesn’t stop me from supporting other crucial causes that are brought to my attention as I become more philanthropically involved in Toronto.”
Supporting: United Way partnered with Pantone to create a custom unignorable colour to draw attention to local issues like social isolation, poverty and domestic violence across Canada. Toronto designers The Peace Collective showcase the arresting shade on a T-shirt, with sales going to support United Way’s awareness-raising Unignorable campaign.
Amanda Blakley, travel writer, founder of BoobyBall annual fundraiser in support of breast cancer research
“As a Torontonian and an entrepreneur, I definitely like to support fellow entrepreneurs: labels that are started by friends of mine, or accessory lines that have been founded in Toronto or in Canada. It extends beyond my wardrobe and into my home as well. That’s a big part of it, supporting local artists and creatives who are putting their products out in the marketplace here.”
“I wear my heart on my sleeve by advocating for my kin on social media. I often post about the realities of mental health as an Anishinaabe woman; I am honest about the impact that settler-colonialism has had on me and share my coping mechanisms and self-care strategies. I also fight like hell to counter the vicious anti-Indigenous narratives that are prevalent in the online sphere. I am transparent, I am hopeful, I am angry and I am loud… And I just hope that my community knows how much I love them.”
Wearing:SheNative Dream Clutch, $150, and Fringe Earrings, from $25.
Supporting: An Indigenous-run, Canadian company where all employees are Indigenous women and which facilitates a positive perception of Indigenous cultures.
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