How much water is used to produce the jeans we wear? Under what kind of conditions do seamstresses or cotton farmers have to work? And who really pays the price when a T-shirt only costs 5 euros? Even before the outbreak of the coronavirus, more and more consumers – especially from generations Y and Z – were recognising the importance of environmental and social aspects. And now that the pandemic is challenging established structures, the general shift towards more conscious consumption could intensify even further. In the relationship between brands and customers, trust, responsibility and transparency are becoming even more important.
The topics of sustainability and fairness in the fashion industry are anything but new, of course. During the past few years, it seemed like more or less every brand was launching at least one sustainable capsule collection. But major brands are often hesitant about making fundamental changes to their business models – after all, many of them have been profiting from fast fashion for decades now. And rigid structures make it even harder to implement new approaches. Young companies, on the other hand, are often born from a wish to change something and with a vision of more sustainability and innovation. From the outset, they have embedded these values into their philosophy, business model and organisation – thereby laying important foundations for a dynamic way of doing business in the future.
Just like at Dawn Denim: the desire to make a change in the fashion industry is what drives the Cologne-based label, as demonstrated by their focus on renewable raw materials, recycled materials and fair working conditions. And to make their own production chain transparent, they have their own factory in Vietnam: “We can work differently with the people there,” explained designer Ines Rust at the January 2020 edition of Neonyt. “We share the same vision and decide everything together.” The denim label’s philosophy also includes repairing clothing and explaining to customers how to care for their products properly. Embrace your flaws: since this year the Neonyt exhibitor has also been working with artists to repurpose jeans with small manufacturing defects. Using embroidery, patches and more, they are transformed into one-off works of art.
Promoting sustainable business models is a mission of the Fashion Council Germany (FCG). Together with Neonyt and Bikini Berlin, they launched the FCG German Sustain Concept in 2019 to support aspiring young talents with a focus on sustainable design. The artists and brands currently participating are Lara Krude, Oft, Phylyda and Working Title. Helping people to help themselves: the aim of the coaching programme made up of various stages is for the participants to successfully establish themselves on the market in the long term.
Examples like these show that the fashion industry is more than capable of doing things differently: responsibly, sustainably – and therefore successfully. The belief that a different way of doing business is possible and new company values can be embraced is a decisive factor for consumers – and can catapult the sustainable fashion business into the mainstream.
Find further information here:
Neonyt-Podcast: How to succeed as an independent fashion brand
Neonyt-IGTV: Dawn Denim
Photo: Neonyt, Sophie Brand
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