ROUND + SQUARE
New York has a knack for bringing different backgrounds, people and points-of-view together. It also united a fashion heavyweight and a human-rights lawyer, which forged a fashion collaboration that's equal parts ethical and evocative.
Last summer, Henriette Ernst was joined on a walk by new neighbor Yasmeen Hassan. During their Lower Manhattan jaunt, the two got to talking about Hassan’s experience as an attorney and executive director for Equality Now. Since 1992, the non-governmental organization has been working to protect and promote women’s rights. They also galvanize the masses against issues like sexual violence, genital mutilation and child marriage.
Ernst became equal parts enraged and impassioned as she learned about the injustices women around the world face. She wanted to help where she could right away.
“I said, You know what? Maybe I can do something,” she recalls. “Maybe I can make coffee for your organization, or organize an event, or be a volunteer.”
Having been a celebrated design director for years, working with the likes of Calvin Klein, Celine and Jil Sander, Ernst happened to be on hiatus from fashion, feeling that it had all become a bit superficial. But her ambivalence toward superfluous styles catalyzed perfectly with her newfound energy toward women's rights. So she utilized her eye for design and her fashion world relations to create ROUND + SQUARE.
The clothing brand features t-shirts, bandanas, shawls and buttons that honor the ethos Equality Now stands for. The pieces have breezy, feminine color combos, punctuated with proud messages like "Girl Power" and "Support Equality." They also support female empowerment at every turn. Not only are the clothes produced primarily from women-run operations, but 30% of sales go toward Equality Now's efforts.
Since their formal debut in December, ROUND + SQUARE has garnered a lot of attention with their femme-friendly messages — familiar faces like Gloria Steinem and Joss Whedon have already been seen sporting them.
More importantly than the brand's admirers and fashionable pedigree are their pretty-yet-powerful proclamations in support of women's rights. Equality Now is fighting issues that many tune out, mute or try not to think about. But they are becoming more prevalent every day as more women's voices are able to blossom against the adversity. Though there is a lot of work to be done, ROUND + SQUARE paints the fight positively, while bringing a few more meaningful messages into the fashion world.
More info and the purchasable clothing pieces can be found here.