When Canadian retailer Joe Fresh first opened its flagship brick-and-mortar store in New York City three years ago, editors and shoppers alike clamored to get their hands on its styles. The brand boasts an inventory of super affordable designs that are at once both incredibly wearable and on-trend. And now, its shopping experience is just a few clicks away for everyone in the U.S.
To celebrate the news, Joe Fresh enlisted the help of Sophia Bush who considers herself a longtime fan (her dad is Canadian, so family visits naturally include a trip to the Joe Fresh store). The star not only became the face of the brand's #TurnColorOn marketing campaign (to shed light on its color-saturated collections), but also collaborated with it to design a T-shirt—for a good cause. "I guess it was in the ether" the actress tells InStyle.com exclusively on how the partnership came to be. "When [the people at Joe Fresh] were talking about launching this online experience, the general consensus was: 'Look, that's cool, but why don't we launch for a reason. Why don't we really do some good for the world.'"
The result? A Sophia Bush–design original with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization whose mission is to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. "This idea of #TurnColorOn made us think of rainbows, and that made us think of the HRC," she explains.
It's no secret that Bush is a die-hard activist (she's even a nominee for our 2014 Social Media Awards "Ultimate Celebrity Do-Gooder" category). Ever since the birth of social media, Bush has taken to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and CrowdRise to raise awareness on world issues and the fundraisers she supports. But it's only when we sat down to talk to her did we understand the full extent of her passion for social change, waxing lyrical on the issues that are important to her, specifically equal rights.
"Everyone should be able to love who they love, and sadly, we're still fighting legislation that's trying to marginalize equality," the actress says. "I hate that certain people are treated differently than others just because of who they love. In this world that’s full of such strife and war and poverty, where we see people struggling, what is the point of wasting a moment criticizing who somebody loves?"
Enter Joe Fresh. The retailer presented an opportunity for her to effect change through commerce. The graphic tee is simple at first glance, but it's rife with symbolism. The concept boils down to the idea that "all kisses are created equal, and love should never be divided." Designed to emulate a fraction, kisses take the place of numerals and an equal sign (the symbol of the HRC) takes the place of the dividing line. Thanks to the sleek, almost "rock and roll" design and its classic black-and-white color palette, the shirt can be worn with just about anything, from distressed skinnies (which is what Bush wore herself at the time of the interview) or leather skinnies. But really, it's the shirt's compelling message that will stand the test of time. Bush puts it best: "There's nothing more classic or lasting than love."
"We wanted to do more than just encourage people to shop; it was a nice way to shift the conversation and have it not just be about clothes, but about who's wearing them," Bush continues. "There are ways to make the world a better place, whether that's in small increments or in massive sweeps of change. We have to focus on the micro and the macro, figure out ways we can affect it all, and I feel that's what we're doing with our T-shirt."