Smoke and Mirrors

An appeal for fashion transparency

Over the past few months, I have worked very hard on my business plan and did quite a lot of research about the retail sector in the UK. From Mintel to The Business of Fashion, WGSN and The Future Laboratory, all reports emphasise sustainability as a decisive factor for business growth in the future.

It has become such a trendy word, and there are so many ‘green washing’ marketing strategies, that it can be quite confusing to distinguish where the fantasy ends and the truth begins. When I was researching UK-based sustainable brands online, many websites don’t have that much information.

Fortunately, in the UK you can learn a lot about a company simply by searching for it on the Companies House. It includes relevant information about staff and accounts. But shouldn’t consumers know more about a brand directly on the website they buy from?

If a brand writes about its sustainable values, data backing up this assertion should be included. Why is it sustainable? Is production sustainable? Are fabrics sustainable? Does it respond to any of the 17 sustainable development goals stipulated by the United Nations? How exactly?

Other brands are vague or don’t even mention who is the founder or main people running the business, or where the business is actually based.

A few years ago, I planned to start my own fashion label and it was a nightmare to find a manufacturer. Most of them don’t even have a website, so unless you’re already working in the industry, it can be challenging to proceed.

Brands know a lot about us, where we are, our age, what we like, what we shop, how long we spend on their website, what pages we visit, and far more personal data collected from social media.

When we support a business, shouldn’t we also know who they are, where they are, what they do and how they do it? Who are their suppliers? And subcontractors? Do they have a corporate social responsibility? Again, could any assertions be proved with actual data?

At the moment, communication feels one-sided, it can be terribly enticing to lure us into buying a product, but the moment you need to reach out to someone, most websites take you to most frequently asked questions or forums, without a clear way of contacting customer service.

It would be great to learn more about a business and the people behind it before buying anything. To sum up, in a world of noise and marketing overload, fashion transparency is crucial and it could look something like this:

Brand website/ecommerce platform information

  • Persons with significant control (Founder, CEO, Creative Director…)

  • Suppliers

  • Latest financial report

  • Corporate Social responsibility activities (for high-income businesses)

  • Latest sustainability report

#fashiontransparency #fashionsustainability #sustainablefashion #onlinedata #showandtell