Fashion consultants tips on how to become a sustainable brand.
There are so many ways a fashion brand can become sustainable. Firstly we need to answer, what does sustainability mean in fashion?
Sustainable refers to the effect that the production of a garment has on the world around us. Effects being:
- How is it taken from the earth and how will it return to the earth.
- How much waste is involved in the manufacturing process?
- If it never biodegrades or is not recycled, it’s not truly sustainable.
- It’s all about producing in a way that harms the planet the least.
“everything you make returns to the earth as food or poison”. Quote by: Céline Semaan, founder of non-profit research team the Slow Factory.
In this article, I will cover ‘how to’ become a sustainable fashion brand covering product, packaging and logistical ideas, as well as discussing how to become a sustainable fashion brand online.
Ways you can become a sustainable brand focusing on the product.
There is no rule book. When looking to create a sustainable brand you can be as innovative as you like. However, you always need to ensure you can back up your claims with a certificate of origin and or manufacturing process.
Sustainable product ideas are:
- Source fabric & trims that use fewer chemicals within their production.
- Choose durable fabrics.
- Choose fabrics that use part-recycled component.
- Create a recycled product: Fordays
- Use bio-degradable fabrics.
- Choose to use vegan fabrics.
- Select a manufacturing process that produces less waste and harmful chemicals, for example, choose digital print vs screen print.
- Use plant-based dyes.
- Use TPG Pantone (not TPX). TPG has been modified to remove all lead pigment and chromium used in the dying process.
- Design your fashion to last, not fast disposable fashion.
To ensure you deliver your choices with conviction, this will take a strong partnership with your manufacturer. They need to be as invested in this decision as you are. As a business owner you need to 100% trusts their operation, as if you fail to compile with your sustainable claim, it will be you the brand owner that will fall into trouble and damage your reputation.
Ways you can become a sustainable brand focusing on business operation decisions.
Aside from designing a sustainable product, you can also become a sustainable brand through your business actions.
Sustainable business operation ideas are:
- Firstly. Is your product needed? Ensure you do your market research before adding another product into a saturated market.
- Market reach – where are you willing to distribute too? Choose the markets where there is the demand, therefore a guaranteed sell-through.
- Select a shipping option that is better for the environment. For example, sea not air.
- Use bio-degradable packing.
- Go public – release a statement about your brand’s commitment to the environment.
- What is your brand doing for your local community or your factories community? Give back.
- Create a rentable range.
Really challenge the way you look at the full life cycle of your product and find your way, how you can improve the way you do what you do. However always ensure you back up any decision with market research, to ensure there is a demand for your product and service, as you don’t want to become too niche that you are no longer commercial.
“We need to get used to looking at things and understanding that nothing actually goes away (when we throw it out). There is no ‘away’.”
Stacy Flynn, the CEO of Evrnu.
Ways to become a sustainable brand looking at eCommerce tagging.
‘Tagging’ is another way to refer to the menu option at the top of an eCommerce platform page. At Unzipped we know how important a filter and easy search options are to our online shoppers.
So for you to become a sustainable eCommerce brand, you would need to make a decision about which filter is right for your brand and add the search function to your website.
In this section, I will share with you options set by the market leader Zalando.
The standard requirement is, fashion brands only need to compile with one tag to be classified as a sustainable fashion brand. Which one you choose is your choice, but the key point to note is, you must be able to prove it and back your claim up with a certificate.
Fashion eCommerce tags are:
- Organic cotton
- Recycled material
- Innovative materials
- BCI (better cotton initiative)
- Leatherworking group
- Fairtrade certified cotton
- OCS (organic content standard)
- GOTS (global organic textile standard)
- RDS (responsible down standard)
- RWS (responsible wool standard)
Consider if you will source locally or globally?
The choice to source locally or globally comes down to these key factors:
- Choosing to be ethical.
- Speed to market.
The best way I can help you to make a decision on whether or not to source locally or globally is via pros and cons.
- Short shipping time.
- Can be used as a sales tool.
- Good PR.
- Benefiting the local economy.
- Supporting local business.
- Response time.
- Resource availability.
- Less efficient operation.
- Low-cost price.
- Wider choice of manufacturer.
- Larger production capacity.
- New technology capabilities.
- Access to a wider / unique skill set.
- Access to raw materials.
- Local tariff and tax.
- Shipping lead time.
- Political instability.
- Quality checks.
The final decision again will come down to choosing to be ethical therefore sacrificing margin and speed or choosing to save money by being a fast-fashion brand.