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How to Buy Gifts for Your Most Socially Aware Friend

Good presents for conscientious people.

We know it's hard to find the right gifts for your loved ones, so we've compiled a ton of fashion and beauty-focused gift guides tailored to a range of interests and budgets. Check out our latest below and find more right here.

Let’s start with a disclaimer: Your most social justice-aware friend would probably find the idea of an activist gift guide a bit silly. To borrow from Audre Lorde, "the master's tools will never dismantle the master’s house," which in this context means "you can't use capitalism to dismantle systems of oppression that are inherently linked to capitalism, dummy."

But your friend might also recognize that money has real power, too, and if you insist on spending it on her (rather than donating to one of the organizations of her choice, which honestly you should ask her about first), she’d definitely rather you make sure those dollars are going to the right place.

So what do you buy to show your friend who cares for the world that you care for her? Read on to find a few picks that will meet her high standards. 

(P.S. One other thing your activist or politically correct friend would be quick to point out? This guide by no means addresses all major social issues that merit serious attention today. So regard this more as a jumping-off point than a comprehensive guide).

For the wheelchair-bound fashion-lover

The success of an IMG-signed model like Jillian Mercado, who has muscular dystrophy and has repped brands like Diesel and Chromat, might mean that disability is gaining a sliver of increased visibility in the fashion industry. But it’s still far too difficult to find clothing geared toward the seated customer that is equal parts accessible and fashion-forward. Luckily, adaptive line IZ Collection features cool, trend-conscious pieces like this leather jacket with a simple zip-back feature that are designed to be easy to don and wear for seated customers. Plus, the organization contributes 10 percent of the proceeds of each purchase to organizations that provide more wheeled access through the addition of elements like ramps within communities.

Easy-zip back biker jacket, $670, available at IZ Collection

Photo: IZ Collection

Photo: IZ Collection

For the unapologetic feminist

At this point, pop culture has moved past the idea that there’s just one thing a feminist can look like. Maybe she goes braless and doesn’t shave, or maybe she looks like she walked out of an ad featuring housewives from the ‘50s, or maybe she’s a he or they. So even though it’s important to acknowledge that your feminism might not be immediately obvious from your aesthetic, it’s also true that there are some out there that want to declare their stance loud and clear. If that describes your friend, this lady-parts pendant is just the thing. It’s chic, it doesn’t feel crass and it still communicates boldly. And don’t worry, it’s ethically handmade in small batches, so you can be confident that no one was working in unsafe conditions to make it.

Helpsy Flow Pendant, $200, available at Helpsy

Photo: Helpsy

Photo: Helpsy

For the Black Lives Matter demonstrator

Black Lives Matter organizers often ask participants to dress in all black when marching or staging die-ins that protest police brutality. But a shirt with the Black Lives Matter slogan can be worn to provoke conversation and raise visibility for the movement whether your friend is headed to demonstrate in the streets or just to work out at the gym. One-hundred percent of the profits from this tee support organizations related to the BLM movement like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Baltimore Justice fund, and they’re made sweatshop-free here in the U.S.

Black Lives Matter unisex tee, $20, available at Merch for the Movement

Photo: Merch for the Movement

Photo: Merch for the Movement

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For the fashion revolutionary

If your friend can rattle off obscure facts about the manufacturing practices of numerous brands, hasn’t bought anything but vintage in years and refuses to go shopping with you unless you’ve promised to avoid fast fashion, she’s probably not interested in a department-store gift card. So give her the gift of education, instead. Every purchase of this 72-page inaugural zine by Fashion Revolution (the organization behind the #whomademyclothes movement) supports the organization’s efforts in consumer education and corporate accountability.  

Fashion Revolution Fanzine 001, $13, available at Fashion Revolution

For the friend celebrating Mexican heritage

First- and second-generation immigrants from a variety of backgrounds have felt targeted by the xenophobic rhetoric becoming all too common over the course of this election, but those with roots in Mexico may feel particularly singled out. For your friend who’s eager to stand up for the rights of immigrants — especially those hailing from south of the border — buy a gorgeous top designed by Mexican label Children of Our Town. Why not send our neighbors to the South some love by supporting its best and brightest?

Cami shirt, $180, available at Children of Our Town

Photo: Children of Our Town

Photo: Children of Our Town

For the gun-safety proponent

Tragedies like the Orlando nightclub shooting, the Charleston church shooting and an ever-growing list of school shootings have led to many pushing for measures like required background checks before purchasing a gun. Remind your friend who is relentlessly pushing for a safer society to keep fighting in the face of overwhelming odds with this pin. Besides being a good pick-me-up when attached to a favorite jacket or hat, all proceeds from the pin go to support Everytown for Gun Safety, an anti-gun-violence advocacy group.

Keep Going Pin, $5, available at Everytown

Photo: Everytown for Gun Safety

Photo: Everytown for Gun Safety

For the religious freedom advocate

The increase in Islamophobic rhetoric and Muslim-targeting hate crimes is alarming to people from a wide range of belief backgrounds, because threatening the freedom of any group to peacefully practice their faith threatens the freedom of all. Regardless of your friend’s own religious practice or lack thereof, she’ll appreciate your gift supporting Muslim-American-owned retailer Haute Hijab — and look darn good doing it in this dramatic gingham skirt.

Grand Ball skirt, $115, available at Haute Hijab

For the queer queen

In light of an incoming administration that feels increasingly unsafe to many in the LGBTQ community, buying from queer small business owners is just one way to show support. This flirty bra from Bluestockings Boutique, a lingerie business owned by and geared toward LGBTQ-identifying people that stocks ethically made underthings, is just the ticket. And if this feels too femme for your pal, have them check out something else from the brand — there’s certainly a boy short or binder that will fit the bill.

Anais bralette by Blackbird Underpinnings, $67, available at Bluestockings Boutique.


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