Wildlife Works is another treasure uncovered by our
quest for cruelty-free fashion—and it’s about time that
phrase isn’t an oxymoron. This is a company that really allows
style to speak for social impact. They’ve got clothes too cute
for words, and with so many to choose from—perhaps too many—picking
your favorite is sure to be a challenge. Most of their designs portray
endangered species from all around the world and the region they are
native to, like the New York Cougars, the Bengal Tigers, and the oh-so-adorable
Siberia Snow Bunnies. Many are available in assorted colors and styles—you
can choose among the classic, baby, raglan, or long sleeve Tee, sweatshirts
and thermal shirts…the list goes on.
Their latest designs are fitted, mock college athletic Tees—perfect
for spring. The Zanzibar Monkeys, St. Tropez Butterflies, and the African
Tree Frog are but a few “teams” in this series. The shirts
are so comfortable, enough to lounge around in, yet they look and fit
so well you’ll want to wear them everywhere. Their stuff is even
reasonably priced; men’s T-shirts are $32 and women’s $28,
tanks $20, long sleeve thermals $36.
While they sell fabulous “eco-minded” clothes, Wildlife
Works is so much more than just a clothing company. Established in 1997,
Wildlife Works is, according to their website, “dedicated to ensuring
a bright future for wildlife by providing people in places like East
Africa with economically sound alternatives to poaching, clear-cutting
and over-harvesting of limited natural resources.” Building community
partnerships, hopefully worldwide, Wildlife Works’ first location
is in Kenya, home to the 80,000-acre Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary, where
nearly 50 large mammal species can roam freely. Next to the sanctuary
is an eco-factory, which employs community members in a low-impact building
constructed from rammed earth (a lasting, resource-efficient material
composed of soil mixed with a minimal amount of cement and water).
Growth in the local economy is fostering a change in people’s
attitude toward wildlife. Whereas before it was viewed as either bushmeat
or money, it’s now a vehicle that creates a Western market for
a local good—the shirts are appealing because of the animals;
wildlife has become an asset to local people instead of a final product,
worth much more alive than dead. The poaching has stopped and the animals
are returning, as reports from the sanctuary attest (updates can be
viewed on their website).
There is also a government-mandated wall enclosing the factory area,
which has been designated a Free Trade Zone (FTZ; export zones and factory
sites in developing countries where local laws—safety regulations
and minimum wages, for example—and tariffs, don’t apply).
Unlike most FTZs, however, Wildlife Works uses no sweatshop or less-than-fair
labor. Workers in the Kenya factory are currently in training to make
the clothes; in the meantime, most of it is produced in San Francisco,
where factories are monitored for their environmental impact.
All of Wildlife Works’ apparel is made from organic cotton and
hemp, and includes lots of tempting styles for both guys and gals: along
with T-shirts, they have pants, even “eco-fleece hoodies”!
Wildlife conservation has never been so stylish. To order by phone,
call (888) 934-WILD. To view the complete collection, visit their online
store at www.wildlifeworks.com;
the site also lists by state retail stores that carry Wildlife Works