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February 2003
Wildlife Works: “Consumer Powered Conservation”


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; the site also lists by state retail stores that carry Wildlife Works wear. —R.C.

Actress Charlize Theron in a T-shirt by Wildlife Works

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