Organic and sustainable fashion textile icon
Recycled products for a sustainable fashion
Headquarters: Hamburg, Germany
Where to buy: e-commerce
who: Men, Women
what: Clothing

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Money, Fashion, Power:
let's talk about the themes of Fashion Revolution Week 2022 with Dietrich Weigel, owner of goodsociety

On the occasion of Fashion Revolution Week 2022 we spoke with the representatives of some sustainable brands included in our directory to reflect together on the main themes of this edition – Money, Fashion, Power – and on how the interactions between these variables affect the fashion system. The result is an article that gathers a plurality of voices, including that of Dietrich, owner of goodsociety, a German brand that works exclusively with men’s and women’s jeans. A garment that is ubiquitous in everyone’s wardrobe but that often, in the traditional fashion sector, is linked to materials and processes that are harmful and dangerous for workers, such as sandblasting. goodsociety instead proposes this iconic garment reinterpreted in a sustainable perspective.

You have the power to push the fashion system towards the path of sustainability: how do you convey the value of sustainable and ethical garments to consumers?
goodsociety started producing clothes back in 2007 in the USA and, as the owner, my idea since the 80’s has been to combine sustainability – at the time it was referred to as being holistic – with quality and timeless design. It was like sitting down Giorgio Armani and Mother Theresa together at the same table. Armani being one of the avant-gardists in the 80’s, Mother Theresa the hands down do-gooder. Until now we, at goodsociety, have not used many marketing strategies, especially not social media. We consider ourselves to be part of a movement and we live to our values by communicating these through our retailers and our website. Above all we communicate through our products and our customers who fall in love with what we do and who literally carry our values into the world by wearing our clothing.

Timeless staples over trends: how do you define the aesthetics of your brand? Quality over quantity: which materials characterize your collections?
The focus is absolutely on quality and this includes truth and beauty. 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. We know all our suppliers and almost all of their employees personally, from the night watchman to the owner. We listen to our heart when we meet people. We are also careful about the description “organic”. Organic agriculture is definitely the way for food, but we want to be sure that our fabric is made from high quality organic cotton raw material. We are aware of the current supply and demand issues and there are some other unclear points regarding origin and availability of natural fertilizers of which we are paying careful attention. goodsociety has never used products of animal origin. The accessories are made from organic or recycled resources where possible and the washes adhere to the highest ecologic standards, either with laser or ozone and without harmful chemicals. Since 2012, we have already been neutralising double our CO2 output and we look after those who aren’t as lucky as ourselves or find themselves oppressed. Simply put, the clothing we produce is timeless in design and we take a respectful, kind and caring approach to people, production and the environment.

Price tags do not convey the real value of a product: how much does it affect production? How important are the social and environmental costs? In the traditional fashion sector, still too little. The costs related to the image and positioning of the brand and the share allocated to profits have a greater impact. How are your prices made up instead, as a sustainable and ethical business? Is part of the earnings reinvested in virtuous projects?
What is actually a price? This is the question that we start with. There have been cultures which have done no harm to the environment and the people who never attached prices to their products, neither have they claimed the products to be theirs in the first place. goodsociety never dreamed that the futures of people and our eco- and social systems would carry the lowest price. These are two areas that we honour and respect when we consider pricing. Our brand mostly sells through retailers, thus upholding our value for respecting people and our support of face-to-face interactions.
We accept, of course, that there are various ways of pricing on the market. These range between a discounter who sells garments over vertical chains to fashion or luxury brands which more or less benefit the company or their customers.  When we compare ourselves with a discount concept, we are out of the market, based on their prices. But it is highly questionable if their products meet our standards of sustainability and common good economy level. Neither do we function like a company listed in the stock market, we do not evaluate our impact in a material dimension. Instead we analyse our ecological and social impact on market development whilst the products are being made and give back what we can do to stabilise this.
We, at goodsociety, see ourselves as being responsible for protecting resources and being efficient in all that we do, minimising any negative impact from the start. We want to produce the best product at a reasonable price compared to the current market situation. We are happy to show our calculations openly and we consider them to be very fair. We know 10% of the global population does not have access to clean water, food, health facilities and education, 70% of them are woman and they are more likely to suffer before they start to fight. We can’t go on living with this reality and there are clear and visible concepts to change it. Phil Knight would say “just do it”, we do say “just do it – in a good way! Since 2007 we have devolved up to 25% of our profits in projects which provide a variety of benefits for people and the environment, such as the SA Foundation and Epicenter Strategy.

Jeans are an iconic garment in almost every wardrobe, but with a considerably negative impact if not made ecologically. If we consider the cotton used, the dyeings and any harmful treatments such as sandblasting, how are your jeans different?
goodsociety is organic and vegan and has been using detox treatments since 2007. Yes, that was possible back then, too. Francois Girbaud, one of denim’s biggest innovators, started with this too at that time. Greenpeace followed in 2012 with the Detox campaign and went public with it in 2014. In that first year of 2014, our denim manufacturer was the first worldwide, and our washer followed in 2015, to fulfill all criteria required by the Greenpeace Detox Campaign. We were the first denim brand worldwide to be Peta-certified and were CO2 neutral in 2013. We have always been as green as you could get. We are not talking about an environmentally and socially conscious label in our collection. We are talking about our whole collection.
Sandblasting was an interesting story. It was judged and considered bad, no matter how it was done. Even in developed countries like Italy, where it was carried out in a closed environment, with workers wearing long plastic gloves and protective clothing, it was frowned upon to even be mentioned. The problem was in developing countries, where the practises are often uncontrolled and the plight of the workers ignored. The world would definitely be a better place without sandblasting altogether. We never actually liked the artificial and strong contrasting look of sand-blasted or chlorine treated denim, so we never considered using it anyway.

Changing the world one pair of jeans at a time, are you satisfied with what has been done so far? How do you see goodsociety in the future?
We are and we aren’t. We see steps have been taken, but the world still experiences hunger, war and oppression, nature’s suffering included.
Looking back at when we started in 2007 in the USA and in 2012 in Europe with organic cotton, vegan-accessorised, detox-washed and socially ethical jeans, some people considered us to be aliens with ideological fantasies. We have come a long way today. Comparing how open the situation is today for these arguments there has been a huge change, especially in the last 5 years. The Covid pandemic and the current war in Ukraine have provided a further acceleration. We strongly believe in the good. The world is catching up and becoming more open-minded. But we should not forget that starting in the 60’s until the beginning of the 80’s the major movements towards ecology and peace spread over the entire spectrum of society. Then the power of economic growth and the belief that this power can resolve whatever came up and threw the world back in its striving towards an ethically sustainable lifestyle. Only now, half a century later, do we start to realize that we may have a “little” too high temperatures and the level of the oceans is increasing a “little” too much, too quickly. Plastic is everywhere, societies are split, there is a rise in burnout syndrome and use of psychosomatic medicine. We believe there are solutions for all of this, we are just in time if we can switch directions quickly. Going one step back, means moving afterwards two steps ahead. Ghandi summed up it up in one sentence, “be the change you want the world to be”. Our brand name is goodsociety and we write this as one word because we mean it and we live it.
For the future we have some important developments in our agenda regarding supply chain and welfare. The time has come to bring some beautiful changes to the market and to continue to inspire the leaders make real changes which will enable us to live in peace together and our kids to say “look, our parents have been great”.

Do you want to tell us more? Write it here.
Our slogan be good to yourself is an invitation to treat yourself and the world at large with care and respect. We believe that self-love, self-care and self-awareness are important daily practises in a holistic lifestyle. Such intuitive practises help to bring true peace and happiness to the individual and this, in turn, causes a ripple of positivity and generosity encompassing nature and the world around us.
goodsociety has the potential to be a positive influence on many individuals. This is a humbling thought that fills me with happiness and which I am grateful to be a part of.

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Last update: .
13 April 2022

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