WHAT IS ETHICAL FASHION?
Ethical fashion is more than clean fashion for the environment. It is a fashion that is interested in all aspects of fashion and distribution! It's difficult to apply but it's motivating to think about all these things that we can put in place!
Ethical fashion, definition
More than responsible for the environment, ethical fashion is a concept that encompasses all aspects of a fashion brand. The production of its products, of course (obviously!), but not only. We also talk about design, reasoned production, maintaining know-how and so on! It's about being respectful of the environment and of the people who work around the brand!
Impossible to aim for perfection!
Establishing a 100% ethical brand is a difficult bet. Complicated. Impossible, even. We will talk about it in the next part on the issues and the limits, but it is impossible to be on top of everything! So we do our best, we arbitrate and we stay on the alert regarding the improvements we hear about!
Because it is impossible to be 100% clean and ethical for a whole host of reasons, which do not necessarily depend on the brands, transparency is what seems to us to be the most effective in the context of ethical fashion. Consumer information is at the heart of our action!
Ethical fashion labels
There are many other labels to certify the origin of the materials, the place of manufacture of the products or the fact that the animals have been well treated in the process.
Oeko Tex standard 100: A fabric certified Oeko Tex standard 100 is a fabric that has not undergone, during its transformation (spinning, weaving, dyeing) chemicals toxic to human health.
Gots: GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) is a global standard for organic fibers. It is a very interesting label on fabrics if you are interested in the ethics of a product. Indeed, it includes ecological and social criteria and is based on independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.
GRS: The GRS label (Global Recycled Standard) is a label that quantifies the percentage of recycled materials in a textile and uses ecological and social criteria.
ETHICAL FASHION, THE LIMITS
If, today, many brands hesitate to embark on ethical fashion or to go further in their practice of ethical fashion, it is because there are many obstacles to implementing it within its business.
Values that conflict with growth
To believe in ethical fashion is to believe in reasoned, sustainable fashion and in the growth of a company on a human scale. EXCEPT THAT in entrepreneurship, there are stages. Levels of growth, levels of production, economies of scale. The values of ethical fashion thus come into conflict with the life of an ethical fashion company and it is sometimes difficult to manage! Thus, it is not ethical to produce more, but it is ethical to pay the salaries of its employees: where is the limit? The cursor ?
Trade-offs to be made
Along the same lines, it is often necessary to make trade-offs:
- Between the different objectives: we have just given you an example. Is it better to produce more or stop paying / laying off employees? Ethical fashion is a whole bunch of provisions to move towards a cleaner and more social box. But these two objectives sometimes walk on each other!
- Between the different struggles! We have chosen to make equality and non-binary fashion the heart of our message and our pedagogy. If non-binary fashion, ethics and ecology are often associated, we have chosen to always give priority to this fight.
Costs difficult to absorb
Doing ethical fashion is, most often, wanting to charge fair prices. For suppliers but also for consumers. The margins are small, lower than in other areas, and the charges are high. Also, with each increase in costs (energy, raw materials, labor costs) the brands that practice ethical fashion are the first to be affected. The margins are eaten away and you have to work hard to manage!
Labels difficult to obtain
In ethical mode, labels are often the best way to get an idea, as a consumer, of the ethics of a brand. In the blink of an eye, we know if its products are vegan, if its fabrics are safe, if its production is made locally or not. It seems ideal! EXCEPT that labels are expensive. If the Oeko tex standard 100 label is easy to obtain (just buy material certified with this label), this is not the case with other labels which require you to pass certifications! Not all brands can afford them and that makes it more difficult to inform the consumer!
ADOPT ETHICAL FASHION AS A BRAND
We told you in the intro: our line is transparency. We know we don't do everything right, but we do our best and we want you to know it. Find here all of our reflections on the choice of our materials, the design, the choice of our workshops, our mode of distribution and our corporate culture!
The first step of an ethical fashion company are its models. To go in line with slow fashion, we prefer models with an aesthetic that lasts with the possibility of modifying them thanks to a patch whose message can evolve. Our patterns were made by our workshop, located in Aisne, in the north of France.
The choice of materials
The second step of an ethical fashion company is the choice of its materials. There's a lot to say about materials and chances are you'll know it if you're interested in ethical fashion. You have to think about the type of material (natural fiber, recycled, from plastic), the dye, where the processes take place, the labels and, of course, the price! For our products, we have opted for a twill-type cotton, labeled Oeko tex standard 100 to avoid any toxicity. Its Portuguese origin assures us that it was created in good conditions.
The choice of our workshops
The manufacture of products is again an essential point in ethical fashion. Which workshop to trust? Or ? The closer the better, because it allows you to visit the workshop regularly to check the working conditions and to benefit from French know-how. But the closest one is also rather expensive and the French workshops are overbooked! We have found a good compromise: we work with a workshop in Aisne, in the north of France, and the latter regularly subcontracts to Tunisia in a workshop he knows well. Thus, we are assured that the products are created in good conditions!
The mode of production
Producing in small series or on-order is another commitment of ethical fashion. The goal is simple: limit overproduction and avoid the destruction of unsold goods. As a brand, it is also a solution to avoid having dormant stock and it is therefore a rather logical way of working! Not to mention that we offer our pieces from XS to 5XL in many colors. Producing in small series was obvious to us!
The mode of distribution
Limiting distribution points is another ethical choice. This goes hand in hand with small series (difficult to practice small series if you are sold in 10,000 shops in France!). Houblon Platine is currently only available on the web. We offer our pieces from time to time in stores, for example at Ground Control, in Paris, or during one-off events. We regularly partner with projects and shops whose values speak to us!
CORPORATE CULTURE, AN IMPORTANT LEVEL OF ETHICS
As we said at the beginning of this article, an ethical fashion company is not just a company that focuses on the eco-responsible nature of its products. It is more broadly a global corporate culture, towards the environment but also towards its partners, suppliers, customers and employees.
A fair price and profit policy
An ethical fashion company practices fair prices for its consumers. Its margins are calculated to live from the activity and according to its expenses, but not with the aim of paying intermediaries (we think here, necessarily, of shareholders and investors).
A company that takes care of its service providers
An ethical fashion company takes care of its service providers. She pays attention to them and pays them with dignity. It can of course set up partnerships and collaborations – that's the life of any company! – but it is respectful towards its partners!
A company that takes care of its employees
An ethical fashion company takes care of its employees. It sets up a serene and healthy work environment, where everyone can flourish and express themselves as much as possible. There are lots of things going on (the Christmas period is hectic!) but we try to keep a good mood and the desire to work together!
A company that takes care of its customers ❤️
An ethical fashion company, finally, takes care of its customers. She respects them, she talks to them with transparency, she listens to them and she makes sure they are satisfied. People were our main reason for launching this entrepreneurial and clothing-based adventure! Getting people to meet, talking about unisex and non-binary fashion, giving them confidence: that's our primary goal!
(Thank you for your support ❤️ )
Ethical fashion is a difficult bet for many companies and yet it is THE bet you have to make today in fashion when you love fashion, life and people. In any case, it is our conviction.