Culture

Rising Need For Ethical Behavior and Sustainable Practices

Beth Gerard intern Rethink Rebels

Hi!

I’m Beth,

a Fashion Technology Student

from the University of Leeds,

here to question the norm

and learn how to create

change in the fashion industry.

Read more

Discussing Boohoo, Reformation, and solutions for a sustainable future for the fashion industry

This crisis has highlighted the many flaws of the current fashion industry and indicators show that many businesses will not survive. We rapidly learned about one-sided order cancellations and the rippling effects through supply chains leading to further social issues…

First, we will zoom into customers changing relationships with brands. We will discuss examples in the fashion industry, highlighting the unbalanced system of fashion and what exactly is wrong here. Lastly, we discuss short, medium, and long-term solutions and visions for a sustainable future for your brand.

Boohoo slavery practices

Consumers have huge power to sway decision making and surveys show that over 50% of people would choose a more sustainable product over another and especially the younger generations, aka Gen Z “desire brands that not only minimize their climate change impact but actually put sustainability and transparency at the center of their brand and product strategies.”

Gen Z “desire brands that not only minimize their climate change impact but actually put sustainability and transparency at the center of their brand and product strategies.”

Which is a really positive and promising affirmation. The way Gen Zers consume and relate to brands is influenced by the behaviors of brands. Companies should be attuned to three implications for this generation: consumption as access rather than possession, as an expression of individual identity, and as a matter of ethical concern. See below an overview of how today’s young generation differs from the other generations.

Boohoo: slavery practices in the UK

Do you still believe nobody cares about working conditions in garment factories? Read the article from BBC on Boohoo, one of UK’s biggest retailers. Their level of compliance is appalling beyond measure: Wages below minimum, excessive overtime, illegal immigrants. We tell you, this is happening in a few hundred factories, if not thousands. All located near Leicester, UK. Most shocking perhaps that this has been for years an open secret, the government is aware of these malicious practices. Some people even complained but without any luck of getting through. For the government, Boohoo is a symbol of the UK garment industry….but not anymore now it’s out in the open. Naturally, the retailers are fleeing. Next, Asos, Zalando. Nobody wants to be caught out. From hotshots to depression in less than one week.

Perhaps, with the sweatshops out of business, legitimate factories, paying reasonable wages while providing decent working conditions will be able to compete.

Reformation: racism practices in the USA  

Another example of a rapid downfall is Reformation. Long time, top of the world’s sustainable brand found itself in the spotlight of accusations of racism. After a post about donations to BLM organizations, a former employee shared her experiences with racisms in the company. The post blew up to a point Reformation couldn’t ignore it. A few days later CEO Aflalo commented with “I’ve failed” and detailed the initiatives the brand would be taking moving forward, such as launching a diversity and inclusion board. Later, founder Yael Aflalo posted a statement to the brand’s website announcing her departure from the company. “Over the past few years it has become clear to me that I am not the right person to lead a business of Reformation’s size and scope,” Aflalo said in the published statement. The implications of this on the future of Reformation will be interesting to see and how they act in the future will be key to saving themselves and sustainable fashion.

It is clear that ‘sustainability’ is no longer enough and brands who want to survive need to be holistic, a force for good, that fights injustice.

So what should fashion businesses do now?

  1. Commitment to ethics, inclusivity, and diversity

Sustainability & ethical behavior: Have a strong focus on workforce protection, health and safety, and environmental programs. Make sure you have a traceable supply chain, you know who makes the garment, where the processes take place, and even where the fiber comes from. Focus on respectful and secure work environments and promote better wage systems. Have an inclusive and diverse approach, including in the board and management team to make a difference.

For example, Prada requested Ava Duvernay to join as their co-chair of diversity and inclusion advisory council after it was blasted for selling a line of figurines criticized for evoking racist imagery. Read more.

  1. Holistic cooperation

Work together with NGO’s such as Clean Clothes Campaign, Fair Wear Foundation, Unicef, to name a few to check your sustainable strategy with. Make sure you get their input, work together with local NGO’s, governments to really make an impact where it’s needed most. For example, like Levi’s, workgroups, consortium, NGO’s and test your strategy & smart action plan. Read more here.

Supply chain relationships are important here. This is a real opportunity for brands to work together with their suppliers, creating conversations, and making two-sided decisions. With many initiatives and governance available for companies to take part in, the message is that collaborating will allow them to build much stronger and effective sustainable practices.

  1. Transparent Communication

And be trustworthy. Be aligned with association members, employees, and customers. Involve them and ask them what they think. How companies act now will determine future popularity and success with consumers.  They should build trust by being honest and acting ethically. “In a survey of almost 6,000 consumers in the US, UK, Germany, Italy, and China, consumers indicated that they very favorably viewed brands that paid their furloughed employees, repurposed facilities to produce PPE, or donated to their communities.”

Further, from a business perspective, the director of sustainability at Zalando SE, Kate Heiny, says there is a “clear link between sustainability and continued commercial success,” And that the “current and future customer base are calling for more sustainable choices in fashion,” Reassuring the industry that this is the right way forward.

If this isn’t enough reasoning to be prepared for sustainability, we can soon expect wider enforcement of sustainable policies by government, currently with the “moving forward with mandatory reporting and transparency requirements, as seen in France, Germany, and the European Commission” meaning harmful practices will no longer be kept hidden leading to accountability and change.

So what does the future of fashion look like?

Looking at this situation, Sanjeev Bahl (Founder and Chief Executive, Saitex) notes that “The pandemic has forced all of us to take a step back and reset our priorities. One key takeaway that has clearly emerged is that a new transparent model that showcases verified sustainable practices will have an edge over other traditional business models.”

Questions about a holistic approach or transparent communication? Or anything else? Write them down in our comments below. Do you like this? Perhaps you like our previous article on How the textile industry impacted by the corona crisis.  Do you see mistakes? Let us know! Do you want to stay informed? Sign up for our Newsletter or social via Facebook and Instagram.


Transparent fashion supply chains

Transparent Supply Chains Explained. Is This Fashion's New Norm?

Rachel founder Rethink Rebels

Hi!
I’m Rachel
You have gifts to
change the fashion 
industry into a sustainable one
and my job is to help you
using these gifts.

Read more

Transparent supply chains is the norm for responsible companies. Rethink Rebels believes transparency is the first step to transform the fashion industry because of the simple thought “If you know what’s wrong, you can change it for better”. But why, oh why, is it so darn difficult to get transparency? Let us get down to the bottom of it.

Naked transparency

Fashion’s complex global production network

Fashion. One of the most complex global production networks. Global supply chains are opaque and consumers lack information. A simple ‘made in China’ label doesn’t say much about if the garment worker has a good job making the T-Shirt, now does it? We simply don’t know. We are increasingly disconnected from the people who make our garments. Did you know that 97% of our garments are made overseas? Feels a bit like we took ‘see nothing, hear nothing’ too literally, right? And yeah, we say we. Because we all buy clothes and have a common responsibility here…

We want transparency. Bad.

There is a growing trend of global apparel companies adopting supply chain transparency. Step by step brands starting to publishing the names, addresses, and other important information about factories manufacturing their branded products. For example G-Star Raw & H&M are showing this on their website already. Check out our post about Mud Jeans and how they report on transparency here.

At the same time, consumer interest in transparency has increased. The conversations and comments of consumers on social media have a growing impact on the perception and the sustainability performance of fashion brands. For example asking your favorite brand #whomademyclothes organized by Fashion Revolution. In response more companies make traceability a part of their value proposition and communication.

Gstar factory overview

Above picture shows the factories of G-Star

 

Transparency as tool for sustainable production

Transparency is a powerful tool for sustainable production and promoting corporate accountability for garment workers’ rights in these global supply chains. Brands and manufactures are enabled to identify challenges and risks along their supply chain. Also to get a better understanding to manage opportunities and introduce more sustainable practices. Transparency makes supply chains more efficient and enables more informed business decisions. Lastly, transparency equips companies with data which they can use for external communication and show the impact of products in a credible way.

Transparency Pledge

In 2016, 9 labor and human rights organizations formed a coalition to advocate for transparency in apparel supply chains as a first step. In 2017 the transparency pledge was signed by G-Star Raw, C&A, Zeeman and Esprit. In November 2019, 8 companies joined this pledge:

Okimono, Alchemist, Marlies Dekkers, Kings of Indigo, Kuyichi, WE fashion, Schrijvens Corporate fashion and HEMA. Yay! More to follow please.

Transparency pledge signees

Goal: Creating a supply chain standard

Simply said, signees promise to make their production locations known in a place that is accessible to citizens. Brands show their factories and sub-suppliers that are needed to manufacture a garment and update this regularly. By getting companies to publish standardized, meaningful information on all CMT (Cut Make Trim) factories it’s possible to create a common minimum standard for the supply chain.  Each company that signs this pledge commits to these steps within 3 months of commitment:

  1. Full name of all authorized production units and processing facilities (processing factories include printing, embroidery, laundry, and so on)

  2. The site addresses.

  3. The parent company of the business at the site

  4. Type of products made (apparel, footwear, home textile, accessories)

  5. Worker numbers at each site (by category: less than 1000, 10001-5000, 5001-10.000, more than 10.000)

Taking it further

Overall companies are increasing visibility in the supply chain, which is good. The focus still lies mainly on the processing and garment manufacturing stages. We need to address the complete supply chain with all chains involved. Think about manufacturing including wet processing such as dying and printing but also knitting, weaving, raw material processing and production. It’s a step into the right direction. Because we believe that little achievements produce big results. We are moving into the right direction and together we are able to transform the most complex global production networks into a sustainable one. Ready for the challenge?

Check here all transparent international production locations at Open Apparel Registry: https://openapparel.org/

Ready for to dive deep? Have a look at Fashion Revolution’s ‘Fashion Transparency Index 2019’.   

Do you want to know more or do you have questions for Rachel? Feel free to do that in the comments below. Do you see mistakes? Let us know! Do you want to stay informed? Sign up for our Newsletter or social via Facebook and Instagram.


Safe Money with these sustainable lifestyle tips Rethink Rebels

This saves you no less than € 10,000 a year. These are the 7 tips!

“Gosh, are you going to Disney in America again with the kids in this short May break? What a wonderful thing. Were you not just been to Cape Town, Kyoto and Tulum? No, but nice for you to say! You work hard for it too”. I sigh a moment and pick up my phone. “Honey. I’m going to book something for the May break now. It doesn’t matter where, as long as it’s tropical, and something nice. Agree?”

Looking back, I think. Serious? I am sick of this. We try to keep up with each other at a killing pace. Both partners work, we buy too much stuff, good clothing for the kids and want to make the most fun journeys, but in addition, we are exhausted, we are tired, we have monthly sessions with the psychologist who calls ‘us kind of an epidemic’ and we have a trade in sleeping pills. Honestly. What the hell went wrong with us? And when did this happen? And how are we going to change this as quickly as possible?

As if you are only someone when you drive that car, live in that house, wear (brand) clothing and can take your children to the most luxurious places every school holiday. I simply had enough of it. I wanted to starve myself to some kind of exhaustion to see if life became very different. Whether I could do it. Whether I could stand the pressure. Whether I could stay myself or whether I just got to know myself. I wanted back to basics. And suddenly it was there; a kind of resistance to this current thinking.

Seven tips for saving money

Even with my very average income, living in a more expensive area of the country, I managed to save 10,000 euros within 12 months. I did this by changing my lifestyle extremely and living under my current lifestyle. It was not easy and required a lot of hard work and sacrifices. And if I can, then you can too. I have described a formula so that you can achieve this also.

1. Become financially independent

  • Super cliché but most of the time the clichés are true. Your own job, your own income, your own worries.

  • How much do you really want this? To save 12 months you seriously have to go for it. It is not about a sprint, but about a marathon. No one else is going to do this for you, it requires sacrifice, it is difficult and you need a degree of perseverance. The right mindset is everything.

2. Check your expenses

  • Money does not cause stress, but, if you have no idea where your money is going, or afraid to check your balance? Then you have some serious stress. Super simple solution. Block 2 evenings or a weekend and arrange a good bottle of wine. Use excel to record all expenses of each month (or use a handy app for this) and you will get insight into your cash flows. Up to the euro, you can see where your money is going and whether you want to. Write down everything. Believe me, you need wine now.

  • What do you spend on food per week? including groceries, eating out, fresh coffee, snacks at the gas station etc. What do you spend on entertainment? Netflix, telephone, internet, cinema, books, music, concerts etc. And what about alcohol and cigarettes? What are the monthly bills such as rent, mortgage, energy, water/gas/ light, car, taxes, insurance, student loans, gym, shopping, clothing etc? You are probably very surprised by how much you spend. It is the small things that make the total a big boost.

  • Don’t worry be happy. It is what it is, and from now on you will do things differently. Check how much you have to save every month to get to where you want to end up. Hey, you’re not perfect and it takes time to get there. It takes time to build this kind of consciousness and to follow everything strictly. But when you see the successes, you will automatically change.

3. Go budgeting 2.0 – needs vs. wants

  • Make a budget. Start at the top with the monthly income (average).

  • Calculate all monthly income. Do not forget the income that you receive once a year/half year/quarter. It gives a good idea of what your income looks like on average per month in a year.

  • Below you start with the fixed costs, from high to low costs. For example your mortgage or rent, insurance, car, energy/water/ light etc.

  • Once you have calculated the fixed costs, check which monthly costs are important to you. Do you want to continue to pay this or do you stop certain fixed costs? For me, groceries, the hairdresser, beautician (difficult skin), clothing for my kids (mind you, nothing for myself that year round) and saving remained on the fixed expense list. In addition, I gave myself 50 euros a month in pocket money (so I also had to buy presents, date and other things together).

  • As you can see, I was very rigorous & very serious. I wanted to reach my goal of 10,000 euros at all costs. I really looked at my ‘need to have’ versus ‘want to have’. Hairdresser and beautician I actually thought was luxury but gave me the boost I needed to radiate enough confidence. Basically, everything I left after these posts went to post save
    The trick is always to make sure you know how much of your budget is left. I knew exactly what I spent and started working harder to reach my goal.

Safe Money with these sustainable lifestyle tips Rethink Rebels

4. Develop the habit of saving money

  • You could also see if you can go to work by bike. Or instead of paying expensive parking costs: park outside the center and then cycle to the center with your folding bike. I myself had a company car, so I didn’t have to save on it. But I had chosen the cheaper class in the lease range. This saved me 100-150 euros a month compared to colleagues.

  • Weekly shopping instead of doing daily shopping (on a full stomach with a shopping list). Cheaper supermarkets, check offers and go to the market in the afternoon (then everything goes away cheaper). We made all our food ourselves: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is quite a job but once you are in the rhythm, it works. If you cook for yourself, you can save between 5-10 euros per meal, around 120-200 euros per month. That is easy to earn and it is very nice and cozy.

  • And then about the girlfriends’ drinks. Instead of going to an expensive cafe (40-50 euros) you can convince them to meet up with someone and take something with you. They really like it and that way you will come to someone’s home again.

5. Lower your mortgage or rent

Since mortgage or rent is the largest item, it can be interesting to take a good look at this item.

  • Check with your bank/advisor whether your mortgage can be taken out for a lower interest rate. Sometimes you have to pay a fine because you break off your deadline earlier, but it can also be very interesting in the longer term. It is, therefore, a short loss for a long-term profit.

  • Take a roommate and split the costs.

  • Move to a cheaper neighborhood. Rigorous, but not impossible.

  • If you spend a weekend with friends/parents, you can rent your home through Airbnb. Sometimes look a little further than you initially envision. It seems drastic, but everything gets used. It is about realizing your goal, which you must keep in mind.

6. Sell your crap

I need cash. How do I do that?

  • By having a thorough cleaning in your house and selling everything on the marketplace. Children’s clothing, shoes, coats, furniture (they do well), books, you name it.

  • Cancel cancellation insurance and travel insurance & other subscriptions (sports, magazines, etc).

  • “Going out at home.” For example, I didn’t go out anymore, remember? We went shopping cheaper, I didn’t buy any clothes for a year … and you know, I really didn’t need it all. During the evenings with friends at home, I could immediately look inside their wardrobe and see what I could borrow. Super handy evenings!

  • Shorter showers, candles and fewer lights on, purchase LED lights

  • Comparing the energy suppliers and health costs every year. It is offered enormously and is certainly worthwhile and saved!

 

7. Find a sidekick job

Everyone wants to earn something extra.

  • See where your talents lie and respond to them! Can you play the guitar well? go teach! Are you handy? Sign up as a handyman/man. Just do it and make extra money! I did that by giving Zumba lessons and giving extra attention. Easy earnings!

  • Set yourself a viable goal with a reasonable timeline. Go for it and work on your dreams, go on that dream trip or buy that piece of art or just keep on saving and ensure a mortgage-free existence! Whatever, what you find important. You don’t have to be afraid of failing, but you have to be in exactly the same place next year as today.

For me, it has become a way of life. I no longer feel the urgency to buy things. Let me say: I don’t need it anymore. Black Friday was a non-buying day for me (just out of opposition), but I will also organize these upcoming holidays as purely as possible. I love buying presents, don’t get me wrong. But it can all be a little less and more conscious. We prefer to do something fun together, enjoy the time together. Having experiences together has become the most important thing.

Extra tips for saving money:

Books:

Stuffocation: living more with less by James Wallman

Rise and Resist by Clare Press

Netflix:

Minimalism: a documentary about the important things

The True Cost

Do you want to know more or do you have questions for us? Feel free to do that in the comments below. Do you see mistakes? Let us know! Do you want to stay informed? Sign up for our Newsletter or via Facebook and Instagram.