The Challenges of being a Socially Conscious Brand
The Cost of Doing Good
Some days when production or delivery obstacles arise, I think ‘if we sourced our products from third world countries, we could keep our costs lower, make more money and give larger donations to the charities we support’. I pause and ask myself ‘is that consistent with our mission and values?’ On the other hand, if our prices are too high and we don’t sell anything then we have contributed zilch to the charities we want to support. Quite a dilemma isn’t it?
We are a brand that when possible, supports local, ethical and environmentally friendly products and so there is a price to pay for the route we’ve chosen. Our cost to buy shirts and printing is 80% of our retail price. If we sourced from Asia, our cost would drop to 40% of our retail price.
The concern for social consequences of fashion products is becoming more mainstream amongst our consumers. In an article in Vogue Business, they reference a 2018 Consumer Report that states that ‘38% of EU residents consider the social impact of an item before buying it and 37% as to the environmental impact.’
While we advocate for local artisans, in certain exceptions, when we cannot find local goods at the quality levels and the customization that we need, we are forced to opt for the alternative. When we must source from other countries, we review multiple suppliers and their production facilities to ensure that the operations are ethical and that the workers are well treated and exclude child labor. Additionally, we want to partner up with entrepreneurs who are interested in improving their products, are flexible to accommodate our specific needs and genuinely want to deliver a product that will please our consumers. We tested several possible sources and assessed their products, their willingness to modify their styles and so on. This was the process we followed in choosing the supplier our leather goods being manufactured in New Delhi, India. In this situation, we are pleased to be able to support the employment of adult workers and to have a solid working relationship with a reputable company.
We wanted to be upfront and share our dilemma. More than ever before, consumers consider these socially and environmentally impacting credentials of a brand before making a purchase, but they do not necessarily want to spend more money in support of these values. As awareness of these social issues increases with consumers, I’m banking on the fact that more and more people will move towards balancing these ethical and moral values with respect to their buying choices.
I am committed to supporting our local artists and the production facilities that generate jobs in our communities. I make every effort to keep our prices as competitive as possible and maintain the high quality of our products.
I invite you to join the revolution. And while it might be more of an evolution at this time, I strongly believe that the clothing industry is gradually moving towards socially conscious practices as you, the consumers express your collective voices and demand ethical, environmentally friendly and socially responsible products.
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