Money, fashion, power:

how to subvert the key points of the fashion system?

On the occasion of Fashion Revolution Week, we talked about this topic with 10 sustainable brands listed in our directory, highlighting the changes that can no longer wait.

We already talked about Fashion Revolution Week last year, describing the origins of the Fashion Revolution movement and Who Made My Clothes mantra, which invites us to ask ourselves what is behind the clothes we buy, asking the market for greater attention and propensity to ethical and responsible fashion.
This year the Fashion Revolution Week will be held from 18 to 24 April: an opportunity for the fashion system to reflect on the possibility of reinventing the sector in a more fair and healthy perspective for the planet and the people who inhabit it. A fashion system that includes big (and less big) brands, but also all of us who, with our daily consumption choices, influence and direct the entire sector.
The theme that guides Fashion Revolution Week this year is actually a set of three elements, which leads us to reflect on how the interaction between them influences the fashion system.

Money, Fashion and Power: these are the three elements on which this year's Fashion Revolution Week invites us to reflect to demand access to an ethical and responsible fashion, changing the assets on which the system is based.

These are precisely the themes on which we started to reflect on possible changes in the fashion system. We wanted to talk about it with the representatives of ten sustainable brands listed in our directory, selected because they well embody the ideals of Fashion Revolution Week, proposing to their customers an ethical and responsible fashion. They are very different brands but driven by the same values, among which we find Italian companies such as US Underwear Store and The Bad Seeds Company and others strongly based on local production such as Farm to Hanger. There are also brands strongly committed to sustainable materials such as Alma & Lovis and others that have focused on a specific product, such as goodsociety and Arctic Seas. Some are brands that are naturally future-oriented because they are geared towards the little ones, such as Babbily and Snella. Others have reinvented luxury in a sustainable way, such as Maren Jewellery and Rozenbroek. What do the three themes of Fashion Revolution Week represent for them (and for us)?

Power

Concentrated in the hands of a few in the world of traditional fashion and instead understood by these sustainable brands as a possibility to positively influence the market in demanding an ethical and responsible fashion.

fair fashion concept

The world of traditional fashion is based on the concentration of power and well-being in the hands of a few. It is true on the production side, where few big brands, from fast fashion to luxury, have the power to direct fashions and consumption. But it is also true on the consumer front, where “few” people concentrated in the wealthiest parts of the world buy garments whose true price is paid by workers exploited in other regions of the world.

Being a brand that acts in the panorama of ethical and responsible fashion also means having the power to direct the system towards a new path. It is about being able to convey to consumers the value of sustainable and ethical garments: the fashion world can only change one consumer at a time and every brand in this sector can (and must) do its part. But how?

Each brand has its own recipe, but some points are clear to everyone. For example, it is evident that it is not possible to continue to support the production and consumption rhythms imposed by fast fashion. “We basically try to convey that it is better to buy one high quality item with a timeless look than a whole range of low-quality swimwear: less is more”: to say it is Arctic Seas, a Belgian brand of luxury swimwear and beachwear that has made the fight against waste its trademark, but the concept is shared by any brand that has decided to work in the field of ethical and responsible fashion. The importance of limiting the volumes produced and avoiding waste are in fact issues highlighted by many brands, such as The Bad Seeds Company, an Italian label that mainly uses hemp, a natural, resistant and durable fibre: “our productions are small and therefore we are able to offer the consumer an high quality product”.

Ethics, sustainability, attention to the environment: these are fundamental issues to be addressed, but they can be perceived as repulsive if presented in the wrong way. Who is well aware of this is Babbily, a brand that wants to combat waste in one of the sectors that is most subject to it, that of children’s clothing. It does it with garments that grow for a few seasons together with their small owners, but not only: “all fashion – whether sustainable or not – is about visuals and the feel-good factor. We understand the impact that fashion has on the environment, but we also realise that being dogmatic or gloomy about it can be off-putting. So, we are trying to send this positive feel-good message of having fun with children while gently educating people about environmental impact and how being a responsible consumer can bring about positive change”.

Certifications also play an important role in communicating with customers. As Alma & Lovis, a German women’s fashion brand, rightly points out, “sustainably produced and ecological clothing still needs to be explained. In our philosophy, on the product and in our print and online presentations with the GOTS certification, we try to convey to consumers how important it is to us that neither humans, animals nor the environment have to suffer for our clothing “. goodsociety, the world’s first PETA-certified denim brand, and Maren Jewellery, the first jewellery brand in Germany to become a B Corp, are also well aware of this.

Another important lesson comes from Maren Jewellery: “sustainability simply can’t be the first argument. Sustainability has to be the basic tenor. The premise. You can’t convince anyone with sustainability alone if the product is not correspondingly good”. And, finally, it is evident the need to bring out everything that unfortunately (if you ask an ethical and responsible fashion brand) or fortunately (if you ask a fast fashion brand) does not come on the shelves of shops: the story of who created that garment. “Buying cheap is an easy way to determine that somebody down the production line is not getting payed and working under very harsh conditions.” This is underlined by Snella, a children’s fashion brand, which highlights a truth that is as obvious as it is willingly still ignored by many consumers.

Conveying the value of ethical and responsible fashion is obviously not easy and there is no single winning recipe: it is essential to rely on facts, concrete data and certifications, but also to propose quality garments designed to last. On the one hand, therefore, it is a question of making evident everything that the traditional fashion system tries to hide, on the other hand it must go against the disposable logic that has historically guided the fashion sector in recent decades. A logic that, for reasons of quality or aesthetics, concerns both fast fashion and the luxury sector, but that is no longer sustainable and must be changed. And this is where the theme of power is linked to that of fashion in the strict sense.

Fashion

Too much and too fast: this is the concept that guides traditional fashion, which produces new collections at a pressing (and unsustainable) pace. Creating garments made to last, not only from a qualitative but also from an aesthetic point of view, is instead the mission of ethical and responsible fashion brands.

sustainable fashion article

Reversing the paradigm, making quality count more than quantity, is one of the cornerstones of sustainable fashion: a goal that can be achieved using resistant and durable materials, but not only. Often, in fact, even traditional luxury fashion is based on technically good quality materials, but this is where the aesthetic side comes in: the garments are designed to last only one season and then become “outdated”. A logic valid for the luxury sector but also of interest to fast fashion, where quality and aesthetics coexist. But perhaps it is precisely the aesthetic factor that is most complex to change, because it is not based on tangible elements such as the good quality of a garment, but on mental concepts that for years (if not decades) have been well rooted in the minds of most consumers.

For ethical and responsible fashion brands, it is a question of reversing this logic of thinking, proposing garments made to last: this will certainly lead to fewer purchases, but following the logic of continuous consumption is no longer an option. It is therefore necessary to make aesthetic choices that can help consumers understand how a garment can remain fashionable, season after season. For example, Alma & Lovis tells us: “the longevity of clothing is also defined by its combinability – our overarching colour concept ensures that styles can be styled with older and new collections over many seasons”. Producing garments that represent “wardrobe essentials, rather than releasing seasonal collections we slowly add to our product range to demand” is the logic that also guides Rozenbroek. The history of this brand is representative: its founder gave life to the brand after working for years in the luxury fashion sector, in order to propose garments that represented an alternative and at the same time the antithesis of this world. “We don’t believe in making sustainable high fashion pieces that are then discarded, instead we make clothing that transcends seasons and lasts.” Jade, founder of Rozenbroek, well underlines the problem behind traditional luxury fashion.

Fighting waste is also a real challenge in those sectors which, for more practical reasons, are subject to constant turnover. A representative case is that of Babbily which, as we have mentioned, produces children’s clothing that, thanks to some tailored escamotage, is able to grow for a while together with the child. It is a question here of subverting a logic that prevails in the field of clothing for children, namely that of garments that for practical reasons cannot last more than a certain time. Babbily shows that this is not necessarily a dogma: “that’s the essence of the brand – children’s clothing that is comfortable and can be worn for several seasons while staying relevant and fresh for adults and children”. Another way to make children’s clothing more durable is that experienced by Snella, which in its collections exclusively provides unisex garments to facilitate their reuse by more and more children: a choice also “social”, because “all children have the right to move and play without having clothes being in the way “.

Aesthetics and practicality, therefore, but also quality remains fundamental. goodsociety is well aware of this, and says: “material research, accessories, selection of suppliers, everything is quality oriented, based on sustainability factors. For example, we try to do things in a personal manner, we want to see behind the scenes of all the people and companies we work for, striving to be a good example for true holistic production.” So, the concept of control over the supply chain is back, to bring to light everything that the world of fast fashion has skilfully hidden for years: goodsociety, a brand that has reinvented the processing of jeans in a sustainable perspective, rightly emphasizes that knowing the suppliers ensures not only that they can work in ethical and sustainable conditions, but also a careful control over every material used.

And if the life cycle of each product is destined to end, however long it has been, even thinking about the aftermath becomes indispensable. Some ethical and responsible fashion brands therefore do not limit themselves to designing garments made to last, but consider their disposal from the design phase. This is the case, for example, of Farm to Hanger, an Australian brand based on 100% local production that uses exclusively biodegradable materials. Of course, the use of particular materials, such as compostable, recycled or certified ones entails higher costs, and this is where we connect to the third and final theme of this year’s Fashion Revolution Week.

Money

A value shown on price tags that often does not convey the real value of a garment, hiding its social and environmental costs. If the prices of traditional fashion more reflect the image and positioning of the brand, those of ethical and responsible fashion must instead highlight the costs that are normally hidden.

change the fashion system

While traditional fashion brands benefit from a system based on excessive consumption, the majority of people who materially produce the clothes and accessories that arrive in our stores are not paid enough, work in precarious and dangerous conditions and are more subject to climate change. All this, of course, is silenced as much as possible by traditional fashion brands, whose price tags reflect more the image they want to convey rather than the real value of the garments and their social and environmental cost.

Pricing is an issue that ethical and responsible fashion brands have to face on a daily basis. On the one hand, their prices are different and must necessarily reflect those aspects that traditional fashion hides. On the other hand, sustainable garments are still often perceived as “too expensive”, highlighting once again the need for a paradigm shift in the minds of consumers.

Unlike traditional fashion, for ethical and responsible fashion brands the aim is almost never profit maximization, although the sustainability of the economic enterprise is in any case necessary. As Alma & Lovis tells us, “of course, we also have to calculate our prices on the basis of raw material, production and logistics costs. But we do not strive for profit maximisation. It is important for us to produce high-quality and good clothes and to be able to support social projects with the surpluses. Our corporate goal is fundamentally a good life for all”. A good life for all means above all decent living conditions for those who produce that garment. As US Underwear Store says “people need to realize that behind the cost of the tag price there is, in addition, the research into low-impact raw materials, and someone who produces it physically. The workforce must be paid fairly”.

Many of the brands we talked to also try to reinvest part of their profits in virtuous projects: Arctic Seas sponsors ecological projects in Costa Rica and Ghana, Babbily has recently donated part of the profits to Ukrainian refugees, Farm to Hanger supports tree planting, goodsociety devotes up to 25% of the profits to environmental and social projects, Maren Jewellery donates 3% of the profits to the Earthbeat Foundation. Precisely this last brand gives us a strong and impactful thought: “beauty has its value. And we also believe that in no case should nature pay this price. We are firmly against any form of exploitation, against any work that harms the people who do it”. Maren Jewellery thus argues that a luxury good certainly has a price, but paying for it is up to the buyer and not to the planet. An uncomfortable truth to convey, but also difficult to deny.

It is the same ethical and responsible fashion brands, however, that admit the problems still related to making consumers understand what is behind their prices. “It is difficult to explain the price structure of the garments we make to customers, because most people are ignorant of how the system exploits people, resources and the environment. Our products are hand sewn in Portugal where people receive a decent wage. Using recycled materials also bears a higher price”: Arctic Seas clearly highlights the difficulty of comparing prices, because there is a number on the tag, but there is a complex world to explain behind it. “We know that our clothing creates value for families and the environment, but we still have to compete with traditional brands and the deeply ingrained instinct to look for bargains. For us this is a question of helping people understand that lower prices don’t necessarily mean better value”: with a few simple facts Babbily highlights how buying a garment at a higher price, but which can potentially last longer, actually represents a saving. However, as the brand itself admits, making consumers understand this is not always easy. Although maybe something is starting to change. “In general, we see a growing green awareness: more and more consumers are looking for brands like our and thanks to this we intercept them even without expensive advertising, saving on marketing”: a positive message that comes from The Bad Seeds Company and that we hope can lead the fashion market of tomorrow!

Fashion Revolution Week is an opportunity to bring as many people as possible to reflect on how a change in the fashion system can no longer be postponed.

Although the issues of sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry are becoming increasingly common, there are still many obstacles to be faced. As we have seen, understanding the prices of ethical and responsible fashion can be complex. At the same time, it is about uprooting a logic of thought that has been handed down for generations and that has been pervasive since the economic boom: the idea that we need more and more clothes and accessories and that we need to change them quickly. In addition to these obvious problems, ethical and responsible fashion brands have to deal with the great giants of traditional fashion, which are able to carry out greenwashing practices that are still very convincing for a large proportion of consumers.

Starting a reflection on the main themes of Fashion Revolution Week – Money Fashion Power – today is everyone's responsibility, from fashion brands to every single consumer.

A reflection that the brands we spoke to on this occasion have started for a long time, leading to business models that can be a source of inspiration for anyone looking for a new, responsible and ethical way to shop.

Alma & Lovis – Organic, Pure, Clean

These are the three cornerstones of the philosophy of Alma & Lovis, which guide the entire collection of women’s clothes of this German brand. This means proposing clothing that is GOTS certified and produced with respect for the resources and people involved in the production process. Alma & Lovis has decided to create only two collections a year (compared to 12 and beyond of traditional fashion), to certify all its products and to respect workers throughout the supply chain, starting and maintaining lasting cooperation with small family businesses. We have already mentioned the corporate objective of this brand, “a good life for all”, clearly exemplifying a way of thinking and acting far from that of traditional fashion. A representative product of this philosophy is the jumpsuit made of hemp, a material that derives from a low impact cultivation and that allows to obtain a smooth, resistant and comfortable fabric: an excellent example of how beauty and sustainability can easily coexist, for an ethical and responsible fashion which is also elegant!

To read the full interview with Annette Hoffman, founder and designer of Alma & Lovis, click here.

Arctic Seas – Minimalist, sustainable and quality beachwear

A Belgian brand of swimwear and beachwear, Arctic Seas wanted to tackle the issue of climate change right from the choice of its name and logo, where a polar bear is represented. This brand wants to propose ecological garments, produced only with recycled or alternative materials deriving from sustainable crops, but that are also of high quality and stylish. Arctic Seas swimwear is subjected to numerous tests, so they are beautiful and comfortable to wear summer after summer. Fundamental, according to the founder and designer Franky Claeys, is to untie the concept of sustainability from the common thought that often leads, even today, to imagine garments with a hippy aesthetic, rough and poorly made. On the contrary, Arctic Seas swimwear is minimalist and sporty: just look at this men’s swimshort in recycled material and at this bikini not only beautiful but also perfect for moving and swimming!

To read the full interview with Franky Claeys, founder and designer of Arctic Seas, click here.

Babbily – Clothing that grows with your baby

This sentence is enough to describe the innovative concept behind Babbily, which wanted to revolutionize children’s clothing sector with garments that can not only “grow” to be reused several years in a row, but are also designed to be comfortable and practical and not hinder the little ones in their daily activities. Babbily also works exclusively with European suppliers, reducing the environmental impact of production, exercising greater quality control and supporting local communities. All the garments of the brand are made with GOTS certified fabrics, a well-known certification that guarantees a truly organic and sustainable production process. Ensuring a more sustainable tomorrow and a more practical everyday life for children is really the priority for this brand. An emblematic garment of this philosophy is, for example, this trousers with an adjustable waist and length and reinforced knees, designed for “real” children who are always active and on the move. If you want to buy them, or you want to wade through other proposals of this brand, remember to enter the code SGATE22 at the checkout to take advantage of the free shipping!

To read the full interview with Elena Miroshnichenko, founder of Babbily, click here.

Farm to Hanger – Slow fashion 100% Made in Australia

Farm to Hanger is an Australian brand of men’s and women’s comfy underwear and clothing, with a timeless aesthetic and made exclusively with high quality and biodegradable materials. Some examples? These women’s knickers are really simple in look and comfortable to wear, and are made of organic cotton: good for the planet, but also a cuddle for the most delicate parts of our body! This men’s t-shirt is also a timeless classic, perfect for any look and season. Timeless, sustainable and high quality products: this is the essence of this brand, which perfectly embodies the values of ethical and responsible fashion. Farm to Hanger has also chosen a 100% Made in Australia production, thus supporting local communities: tackling local issues and making a difference on a small scale is indispensable before tackling major global issues.

To read the full interview with Anna-Louise Howard, founder of Farm to Hanger, click here.

goodsociety – Jeans reinterpreted from a sustainable perspective

Jeans are a garment that is really in everyone’s wardrobe, but whose production often involves extremely dangerous practices for workers, such as sandblasting. goodsociety has made jeans its own brand: men’s and women’s jeans are the only garment sold. An emblematic piece is for example this one for women produced without the use of harmful substances. Born in 2007, goodsociety has been a true pioneer of sustainability and has always used non-toxic treatments, organic and vegan materials. The brand’s entire collection has always been as green as possible, immediately adapting to Greenpeace’s Detox campaign. goodsociety was also the first denim brand worldwide to be certified Peta. Needless to say, techniques such as sandblasting have never been taken into account by this brand, which does not even appreciate its artificial and strong contrasting aesthetic aspect. In its 15 years of activity, goodsociety has been able to observe a positive change in the way of thinking of many consumers: initially accused of following mere ideological fantasies, the brand has actually prospered and has been able to see how today there is a greater mental openness towards green issues. “Be good to yourself” is the motto of goodsociety, an invitation to treat yourself and the world with love and respect and thus initiate a positive change on a global level.

To read the full interview with Dietrich Weigel, owner of goodsociety, click here.

Maren Jewellery – Sustainable luxury shaped in a jewel

It is not true that in the world of ethical and responsible fashion there is no room for luxury. This is well demonstrated by Maren Jewellery, a brand focused on the highest quality jewellery, handmade with the best materials. Luxury yes, but in harmony with nature: this leads to jewels with a minimalist aesthetic that can express all the beauty of the simplest things. A way of working that allowed Maren Jewellery to become a B Corp, passing numerous analyses and verifications. This goal, however, is only a starting point, an incentive to do better. Already today, however, Maren Jewellery uses exclusively recycled metals and synthetic stones, an alternative that is much more sustainable but equally elegant and beautiful compared to virgin metals and natural stones. Bringing materials to a new life is essential for this brand, as you can see for example in a precious jewel like this solitaire ring: refined and elegant, it is made entirely of recycled 18-carat gold and features a synthetic diamond. Noticing the difference is impossible… but for the environment the difference is evident!

To read the full interview with Helge Maren Hauptmann, founder and designer of Maren Jewellery, click here.

Rozenbroek – A sustainable alternative to traditional luxury

Jade Rozenbroek founded the eponymous brand after working for several years in luxury fashion, with the desire to create an alternative to the dominant logics of the fashion industry. Rozenbroek is all this: sustainable materials, use of clean energy, attention to working conditions, willingness to teach consumers to take care of their clothes. For example, with each order, Rozenbroek sends a sort of “instruction booklet” to take care of the item purchased as well as possible and make it last longer. To ensure ethical and sustainable working conditions, Rozenbroek has given up on intermediaries and has created its own production plant, where it employs a small all-female work team and where it tries to minimise waste, reusing all the small fabric waste. From this desire to minimize waste, garments such as the zero-waste bras are born, testifying the brand’s great attention to even the smallest details (and waste!).

To read the full interview with Jade Rozenbroek, founder of Rozenbroek, click here.

Snella – Children's clothing, made with the little ones in mind

Suitable for playing and with fantasies that children can understand and love: this is how Snella‘s clothes and accessories are conceived. Nature becomes the protagonist of the fantasies used by Snella, a brand founded in Berlin just two years ago, spreading a message of positivity while highlighting the need to protect our planet. But not only the environment, for Snella it is essential to take care also of the people involved in the production process: precisely the respect and consideration for work should lead, according to the founder Hannah Granström, to buy less, reuse and pass on what you own. In this perspective, all Snella garments are unisex, so to be passed down from child to child with great simplicity. Snella is still a young brand, with many interesting projects for the future, such as the desire to completely eliminate mixed fabrics from its collections, although already today it uses mainly certified organic materials. Another project in the making is related to the collection of used garments to be recycled or resold. In addition, already today the supply is made exclusively in the EU to contain the ecological footprint, and products are shipped directly to consumers, without intermediaries. A product that well represents how far Snella has already come is the line of hats for children, made of biodegradable organic cotton and digitally printed to save water and ink.

To read the full interview with Hannah Granström, founder and CEO of Snella, click here.

The Bad Seeds Company – Hemp to wear

The Bad Seeds Company is an ethical and responsible fashion brand from Italy, with a physical store in South Tyrol and a jeans shop in Molise, which uses only sustainable and ecological fabrics. Among these, hemp has become the distinctive element of this brand: a truly ecological material, which does not require pesticides and does not derive from intensive crops. Hemp, together with organic cotton, is the material behind, for example, this unisex dungarees naturally produced in Italy. Personal contact is another of the essential elements for the identity of The Bad Seeds Company: the brand has shortened its supply chain as much as possible, also reducing its environmental impact, and has decided to open a physical store in Egna (BZ), where it can make its products known in a direct and personal way.

To read the full interview with Barbara Trenti, founder of The Bad Seeds Company, click here.

US Underwear Store – A sustainable store in the heart of Parma

US Underwear Store is a brand that has followed a path that today we could define unusual: born as a physical store in Parma in 2019, it launched an e-commerce store only later. This was made to allow consumers to touch, look and try the products, in order to fully appreciate their quality and materials. The store was created with the aim of allowing anyone to find underwear, nightwear and home wear made of natural fibres, sustainable, but also with a great fit and a timeless look. The proposed garments are deliberately untied from the seasonal perspective, focusing on continuous lines beyond the fashions: so, in the store, it is always possible to find the garments that you loved and with which you found yourself well. Would you like some examples? This women’s summer pyjamas and this men’s one are made of GOTS certified organic cotton and with a timeless look!

To read the full interview with Valeria Cremisi, founder of US Underwear Store, click here.

In our directory you will find many other ethical and responsible fashion brands that produce following logics far from those of traditional fashion and rethinking the Money-Fashion-Power paradigm that dominates the latter. Join us and change the world of fashion one cloth at a time!

Sustainable News

Iscriviti per ricevere le ultime notizie sulla moda sostenibile e ottenere codici sconto!

Inserendo il tuo indirizzo email, acconsenti a ricevere la nostra newsletter. Maggiori dettagli sono forniti nella nostra Informativa sulla Privacy.

Sustainable News

Sign up to get the latest sustainable fashion news and promo codes!

By entering your email address, you consent to receiving our newsletter. More details are provided in our Privacy Policy.

Sustainable News

Sign up to get the latest sustainable fashion news and promo codes!

By entering your email address, you consent to receiving our newsletter. More details are provided in our Privacy Policy.