How the fashion industry is implementing health and wellbeing into the workplace

The fashion industry is an exciting, fast-paced and competitive industry to work in, but it can also be a breeding ground for stress, illness and burnout.

The past 18 months has positively forced the industry – and the world - to reset priorities with a concentrated focus on ‘health over wealth’.

Fashion brands have quickly realised that the only way they will establish meaningful connections with employees and consumers is by engaging them with issues they care about. Therapeutic value is key in today’s world, and those brands that succeed will win out in the end – internally and externally.

Here are a few fashion brands that have launched new health and wellbeing initiatives in the workplace and translated their actions into consumer-facing campaigns. All have received praise for their work, and you don’t need a crystal ball to predict that it won’t be long before many more fashion brands, if not all, follow suit.

Lululemon

After a survey carried out by the yoga and athletics brand showed that only 15% of its employees felt they were being supported during the pandemic, the fashion brand upped its game by bringing in a series of wellness initiatives to support physical and mental health.

The company’s daily workout schedule was moved online so that employees could get fit at home, and psychological support and mental health training were brought in to ensure managers were equipped to have those wellbeing conversations. Pay protection for store-based employees was introduced meaning they would still be paid even while the stores remained closed, and an employee assistance fund was also set up.

If that wasn’t enough, Lululemon partnered with the United Nations Foundation to create the ‘Peace on Purpose’ initiative which equips UN workers with the necessary tools to look after their own wellbeing. UN workers carry out humanitarian work in some of the most stressful and hostile environments in the world, which can quickly lead to burnout. The programme encourages mindfulness through movement and breath, which helps workers deal more effectively with the stresses they encounter in the job and to be more resilient to them.

The initiative has so far reduced stress and anxiety levels for UN workers by 40%. One massive step forward for the wellness of mankind, we’re sure you’ll agree.

Manolo Blahnik

Manolo Blahnik is a designer who believes in using creativity as a form of escapism. Which is why when the luxury footwear brand launched its Smile Initiative in 2020 it wasn’t a huge surprise to fashion enthusiasts across the world.

Partnering with the Mental Health Foundation, the Smile Initiative shares recipes, ideas and books, with a goal to spread inspiration and happiness to the community, while based at home during quarantine.

Alongside these elements are some of Manolo’s original sketches which consumers can download, print and colour in. Colouring is known for its therapeutic qualities and brings calm and encourages mindfulness.

Aside from this initiative, the brand is big on mental health wellbeing for its employees. The Manolo Blahnik team are encouraged to support and celebrate each other, raising mental health awareness and sharing the brand’s values of spreading joy, sharing creativity and inspiring one another.

The luxury footwear brand recently announced that 2021 is expected to be its best sales year yet. A positive impact following its health and wellness campaigns or a post-pandemic coincidence? We’ll let you decide.

Cotton On

Australian loungewear company, Cotton On, has recently implemented various wellness initiatives for its employees, which include standing desks, walking meetings and yoga classes, not to mention an onsite osteopath for executives who are tired after travelling. ‘Keeping people moving’ is the brand’s overall goal to enhance employee wellness and productivity.

Cotton On has not only addressed physical health, but also recognises the importance of mental health and encourages a caring and compassionate workplace culture, where quality of work outweighs the amount of time you sit at your desk. Free shuttle buses are provided for employees taking away a stressful work commute, and an onsite café, gym, beautician and car wash free up valuable weekend downtime. Fresh fruit is also provided every day and employees can work flexible hours choosing the time they work from 7am to 7pm. All in all, Cotton On seems like the perfect place to work.

These wellbeing programmes have no doubt contributed to the massive success and growth of the company which now operates in 19 countries with 1,500 stores globally.

Desigual

Spanish brand, Desigual, had the majority of its employees vote for a four-day working week. Making health and wellness a priority, Desigual agreed to the changes and all head office employees based in Barcelona will now work a 34 hour week Monday to Thursday (compared to a Monday to Friday 39.5 hour week). In addition to the reduced hours, employees can choose to work one of those four days at home, if they wish.

While a reduction of working hours does come at a price, it is only a small one, as the company will be absorbing half the costs, meaning that its employees will only see a 6.5% reduction in their salaries, rather than the full 13%.

Desigual is a young and dynamic company and its actions are sure to set a precedent to other companies in the industry. The company believes that its wellbeing initiatives will make it an appealing organisation to work for, allowing them to attract and retain top talent.

It will obviously be a matter of time to see whether the business’ actions will gain the benefits it hopes for. One to watch for sure!

Other wellness campaigns

Interested to explore more health and wellbeing initiatives from luxury brands? We’ve popped a few extras below that have also caught our eye…

  • Gucci – the luxury fashion house promoted its SS20 Orgasmique collection by sponsoring a series of the Sex Ed podcast, which focuses on sexual wellness.
  • Bottega – Italian based business, Bottega, launched a virtual residency which included an online programme of events aimed at bringing hope and inspiration through quarantine to prevent loneliness and isolation.
  • Chopard – this luxury jewellery brand launched a Stay Happy campaign where consumers were encouraged to nurture their ‘joie de vivre’. This involved downloading a colouring book to allow people to be carried away by their imaginations.


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By Federica Pantanella
17 January 2022 19:13

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