Sydney Retail Festival

How To Be a Sustainable Fashion Brand

These days, there is a growing demographic of shoppers who are increasingly concerned by making sustainable fashion choices. And rightly so! On a global scale, the environmental impact of sourcing raw materials, manufacturing, packaging and the much-discussed disposal of ‘fast-fashion’ is devastating. The industry is feeding a human race that according to one report, consumes 400 % more clothes than they did 20 years ago.

Here at the Sydney Retail festival, we know that emerging brands want to make a difference environmentally and yet, creating a completely sustainable brand can be a daunting not to mention expensive− task. When considering your brand’s environmental footprint, it is more realistic to start with small steps. Here we outline some ideas:

USE SUSTAINABLE FABRICS

One of the first things to think about is your raw materials. Most blended fabrics such as polyester-cotton can never be broken down, so it worth considering buying recycled polyester and nylon which is nowadays pretty close in price to virgin materials.

Another option is to purchase fabrics with sustainable fabric certifications such as: Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Fair Trade Labelling Organisation (FLO) or OKEO-Tex. You can also try researching options through organisations like Ethical Fashion Forum or by using online marketplace Alibaba (which hosts some eco-friendly suppliers).

Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to people in the industry and ask for their advice!

Know your supply chain

Given the current spotlight on the global fashion industry’s poor environmental and factory labour practises, one key message for emerging brands is transparency. Customers want to be able to trust the product that you’re delivering. If it’s practical, make a visit to get to know the factory or production unit that you’re using. If this is too difficult, only seek out manufacturers that have the internationally fabric certifications mentioned previously.

Of course, as good-intentioned as you might be, unless you have a lot of cash and exceptional contacts, it can be difficult to tick the ethical box across all aspects of the supply chain. Nonetheless, we recommend ensuring that you have a good relationship with your suppliers as it can make all the difference.

Promoting your brand

The exciting part of investing money into a sustainable fashion brand is that the media wants to know your story! Sustainability is so much more than a trend – it is concerns the dismaying prospect of species extinction and depletion of natural resources – yet in fashion terms, it’s easier to understand when we call it a trend. And right now, you can capitalise on this trend! The media want to know how you are shaking up the scene or creating a new product that is making a difference on the fashion scene.

Reaching out to publications with your story and visuals will give your brand a personal touch and an authenticity that is appealing. Remember that whilst the business may be about you and your ideas, make sure to promote your Unique Selling Point (USP). Some of our favourite publications with a sustainable fashion focus are tommie magazine and Eco Warrior Princess. Register Now to hear from and meet the founders of these magazines at the Sydney Retail Festival Seminar Series.

Finally, it is reassuring to realise that by incorporating some of these practises into your business, you are helping enact change by hopefully inspiring and encouraging other brands to do the same.