A an ethical and committed brand... really?
I'm fed up with green washing too 🤦
There is no fashion brand today that doesn't claim to be ethical, committed, sustainable... But are they really?
in 2016, I launched my first fashion brand, trying to be as green as possible and I soon came to a harsh truth : there already are too many clothes on the planet. So creating an eco-friendly brand is already quite a challenge 😅
Today, besides the brand ASSIAKARA, I also have another job : I help startups that are active in the ecological transition. Thanks to that job, I learn a lot, everyday, about our individual and collective impacts.
What I retain from these experiences, is that claiming this or that doesn't mean anything. However, we, as entrepreneurs, have the responsibility to set goals, to concretely commit on actions and, moe than anything, to ask ourselves how we can do better than yesterday.
My 5 commitments for the 🌍
1. Sustainable materials
For several years, I have chosen to work with sustainable materials ... but what does that mean exactly?
Second hand : did you know that most big brands waste a lot of material? As they order in bulk, they sometimes leave good quantities of fabrics aside (up to hundreds of meters!) And, once the collection is complete, you can't use the same fabrics again. Fortunately, some companies act as intermediaries between these brands and projects like mine, to give us access to these stocks and allow us to give a second life to the fabrics. Personally, I work with Nona Source and The Fabric Sales 🙌
GOTS Certified fabrics: This label is granted to textiles made with a minimum of 70% organic fibers, but also in factories offering decent work conditions. There are a lot of criteria that I invite you to discover here 🌱
Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Certified fabrics: it is also a label which ensures that the fabrics are eco-friendly, for instance when it comes to the use of chemicals during manufacturing. They are a little weaker than GOTS, especially at the social level. Personally, I always try to use the most sustainable alternatives, but this label is always better than nothing 😉
2. Made to order, made to measure
Stock management in fashion is a real headache. To summarize: it is very complicated to sell 100% of your stock, because you set the number of pieces in each size and color beforehand. If you're lucky, you manage to sell the surpluses during sales but otherwise, it often ends up ... burnt 🔥😱
One solution: produce to order! Yes, you have to wait a few weeks to receive your garment but, let's be honest, did you really need it tomorrow morning?
But what if the ordered garment does not suit you? Isn't there a risk of unsold goods again? This is where tailor-made comes in! As you provide me with all your measurements, we make sure that the garment will fit you before even making it! No overproduction is one of the most drastic ways to reduce a brand's ecological impact ✌️
PS: I first set up this tailor-made process because it was what seemed most logical to me for a genderless clothing brand. It was through questioning gender in clothing that the size issue came to me. The tailor-made solution is therefore not only a huge step forward for ecology but also for opening all clothes to all genders 🌈
3. Zero-waste R&D
If I am able to make affordable tailor-made products, it is thanks to a 3d clothing design software, Browzwear. This computer-based drawing process saved a lot of waste!
In the past, to create a garment, I used lots of paper for the pattern, fabric for the prototype, more paper to change the pattern, more fabric ... until I got the shape that suited me, that I had to make one last time in the "right" fabric. It's super fun but it filled a few bins 🗑️🗑️🗑️
Today, i can draw hundreds of clothes without throwing anything away ! Be careful, there is still a perverse polluting effect: I need a fairly powerful computer and good data storage. If a geek with the perfect solution reads this, please help me solve this problem 🙏
4. European production
I can't tell you exactly where, since it varies. For now, it's either my house (like, it's me who sews), either in an ETA near my home, the Val du Geer, or in a small workshop in Bulgaria.
Honestly, Bulgaria is much cheaper than Belgium, and this is particularly what allows me to sell my more complicated garments at affordable prices. But my Bulgarian partner is a super nice company, dedicated, respectful and always looking for solutions. When I spoke to them about genderless, bespoke and pre-orders, they immediately got on board, and this kind of relationship of trust is rare in this industry! My next goal: ask them for photos to post for Fashion Revolution Week!
5. Limit packaging
Am I the only one thinking it's stupid to have a cardboard / plastic label on a garment bought online? 🤔
Again in a zero waste spirit, I try to do as little packaging as possible! With me, you won't find any :
price tag (you bought the garment on the website, you know how much it costs!)
size label (it's tailor-made!)
care label (everything is on the product page and, in doubt, never wash at more than 30 °)
brand label (that may be a bad idea ...)
No plastic packaging wrapped in a cardboard box covered with plastic either... Everything that leaves my home is wrapped in simple kraft paper (it's biodegradable!) Less is more ⚖️
Ethical at any cost? 💸
Let me be 100% honest with you: creating a product that meets all of my ethical and ecological criteria is super expensive. I'm talking about 4-5 times more expensive than the current price.
And that, for me, is not an option. Rich people, who can afford this kind of expense, already have plenty of choice. Meanwhile, people on limited budgets find themselves stuck between Zara and Asos ... I am convinced that green and affordable alternatives are one of the keys to change consumers' behaviour, but also producers'! I just wish that my prices are not an obstacle. That any person, whatever their gender, has the opportunity to have fun in this wardrobe ✊
Your opinion is everything ! 📣
Are you shocked by something you just read here? Do you know a better, more sustainable alternative ? Do you want me to commit on other things? If you don't tell I can't read your mind 😜So feel free to get in touch and share your opinion and ideas, it's the only way to improve myself 💪