It’s gotten to the point where it’s easy to come across as a socially conscious brand. Smack a beige background, alongside a green image that connects to nature, and you’ve done it! Throw in some words like ‘conscious’ or ‘considered’ and you have the perfect green washing initiative. Sustainability should focus on the overall impact that we as humans have on Earth. The pandemic has unveiled the necessity for change both socially and environmentally.
Now for the hard part, figuring out the brands that will help you make choices with a purpose. Here is some information of why a brand may not be genuine in their sustainable commitment:
If the brand's sizing is only XS-XL, they are not taking into consideration other body sizes. This means their brand is not accessible for everyone. Size inclusivity is one of the many ways to fight diet culture and anti-fat beliefs engrained into our society. A majority of the Australian popular does not fit in the standard clothing sizes that are on offer at ‘sustainable’ clothing stores, this is a real issue. There is a myth that larger sizes cost more to create, and this is just not true, or we would see price differences between a size 6 and 10.
Sustainable, slow fashion brands are not that sustainable if they are excluding a large market of plus size women, that has proven to be a $1.1 billion untapped industry in the Australian market. There needs to be less shame around people that either cannot afford these clothing or aren’t even able to fit into them.
Having multiple seasons of clothing, in a large variety of colours is not exactly ‘slow fashion.’ Brands that promote ethical consumption and being good humans yet do this are just telling you what you want to hear. Their purpose is to make money. A good read for this is frequency of their Sales and the way in which they promote themselves on social media. When in doubt, do a quick google of “insert brand greenwashing” and I’m sure you’ll find something.
This misleading can also be seen where brands decide to label a product or collection as ‘green’, which therefore denounces the rest of the collection or assortment as non-green. Many brands have recognised this and through great PR have been able to bring out a sustainable product line, rather than convert their bestsellers to a more sustainable process.
Lack of transparency of the supply chain is the easiest way to turn a blind eye. Searching for the brand's location and factory and finding minimal information about how they really care about their workers is not enough. Creating a purposeful story for your products is just as important as the product itself.
Anyone that claims to be sustainable but hides or denies information is not credible. An outdated concept is that competitors should not be capable to cooperate. These issues are too big to be solved alone. Brands that have moved to publishing their audits via social media and their websites are paving the way for the new standard. Knowledge will forever provide power. Employees throughout the global value chain deserve more dignity, security, and justice from companies.
What can you do?
- Call out brands! Tell them that this is not okay, and you demand better. This can be done through social media and engaging with the brand.
- Research a brand before you buy it. Yes, even those Instagram clothing ads which we all know are mostly fake. A quick google will quickly reveal what information is available to you, and what has been purposefully hidden.
- Thrift clothing that is your size. Remember how plus size people don’t have much access to sustainable brands, well there is also difficulty in thrift shopping. Please be considerate when buying an item much above your size.
According to the 2021 ‘Regeneration Rising report Wunderman Thompson, “86% [of participants] expect businesses to play their part in solving big challenges like climate change or social justice”. Do you think your business is solving these big challenges? You can make everyday changes in your personal and professional life. The belief that your dollar is your vote is more important than ever. This change was due years ago and we all need to address this.
At Strategy we can help you tackle these big challenges and how you can ensure they align with your brand purpose. We love working with brands that are already working to address climate change, or ones that want to help. Contact us for further information on how your brand can play your part in saving our planet.