THE BUSINESS OF ETHICAL FASHION
PART 3: EXCITING OPPORTUNITIES IN UNLIKELY PLACES
In the previous post, talking about all the challenges of starting an ethical business may have made the idea too daunting to even think about. Despite all those challenges, people here love what they do. They are passionate, inspired and ready to turn their vision into a reality. For them, creating change is enough.
If you're wondering if there's more though... you're in luck! There is :)
PART 3: WHAT OPPORTUNITIES DO YOU SEE FOR PEOPLE IN THE ETHICAL FASHION SPACE?
1. Unchartered Potentials
Profit is important in business. It's the only way a business can survive long term. However, one great thing about these ethical companies I have been meeting is that they don't just wear profit blinders at all costs. Instead, they seek out business ventures that are meaningful, do good and have the potential to bring many people along in the journey upwards. These hidden gems of opportunity are excitingly unconventional and often take these brands all over the world, resulting in unique products and beautiful brand stories.
They’re out there, if you’re willing to look!
“Because of this ethical perspective, we’re exploring options that would have otherwise been overlooked.
It takes extra work to identify these communities and to create a platform so we can start working with these women, but it's so worth it in the end because it’s what’s giving us this competitive edge.
In the long run, it works in our favour because these women have skill sets that are really unique, compared to the more conventional products out there.”
– Dana Kandalaft
In partnership with Syrian women displaced by the war, Tight Knit Syria produces unique and beautifully handmade products that feature traditional Syrian needlecraft passed down through generations. With the support of TKS, these women can earn an income, giving them the means to support themselves and their families.
2. Collaboration central, a friendship facility
If there’s one thing that should convince you to enter a space, it’s knowing that everyone is welcome. In fact, the fact that there are more businesses popping up in this space is proof that the market is growing. And in the ethical fashion world, one of the character traits I have seen is generosity among brands - even competitors.
People here want to create better alternatives, and they’re always looking to offer a hand to help you do the same.
“The collaborative space is wide open. One thing that’s cool about social entrepreneurs and ethical businesses is they’re coming in with a different mindset.
Obviously with business, there’s a certain level of competition, but a lot of these brands are super collaborative, and we see this at our Marketplace.
Vendors go around to talk, to meet, and form cool partnerships.
They lift each other up instead of being competitive in the ethical space. I think that’s the biggest opportunity; the people in this space are wiling to help each other, which is really cool.”
– Sarah Judd
Buy Good. Feel Good. Expo is held every year in Toronto to support and promote brands that drive sustainable or social change. It's a great opportunity for connection: between vendors, customers, and the newly made attachments formed with some beautiful and powerful pieces.
In 2020, Buy Good. Feel Good. launched their online marketplace and has been helping more people have access to brands that align with their values and ethics.
3. An Untapped market
For every one person who enjoys shopping ethically, there are several others who would love to do the same but feel that they are excluded due to the limited range of products, styles, and prices.
In other words, the space for ethical fashion has yet to develop to the scale at which it is accessible to everyone who wishes to take part in it. By considering the different needs of various lifestyles, economies, and abilities, the space for shopping ethically can be opened up to what have traditionally been more marginalized markets.
From body positive fashion to affordable alternatives, there is a LOT of space and opportunity in ethical fashion to expand and help tip the scales towards a more equitable world.
“There is a massive group of people whose lives are similar to yours and mine. They have the same or even more restrictive financial constraints than many of us. But they also have a desire to shop and live better and to be more connected to what they own, wear and share with others. Many of us have been limited with our options for a wide variety of reasons such as body type or size, disability, or affordability.
And yet, this is the area of ethical fashion that really excites me!
I feel that by taking on these challenges, we will see rapid growth in ethical fashion around the world.
And that is truly something we can all create together. ”
– Christal Earle
Brave Soles upcycles hundreds of tires discarded in the landfills of the Dominion Republic to create the soles of their handcrafted (real!) leather sandals. And through it all, their commitment to accessibility in ethical fashion assures their sandals and accessories will always be as affordable as possible.
Brave Soles upcycles hundreds of tires discarded in the
landfills of the Dominion Republic to create the
soles of their handcrafted (real!) leather sandals. And
through it all, their commitment to accessibility in
ethical fashion assures their sandals and accessories will
always be as affordable as possible.
These were three of my favourite answers.
With the growing awareness for conscious consumerism, exciting things are happening as more and more people turn to sustainable, local, and ethically-made items. There is definitely a growing demand, but will we meet it?
As always, thank you for reading. I'm excited for our last segment because it's my favourite of them all: What We Wish People Knew About Ethical Fashion.
See you there!
Yona Lo - Your Guest Blogger
To give you some context, this series was born from a personal curiosity over the seemingly elusive nature of ethical fashion creators.
A quick Google Search will give you a multitude of general definitions, of “Top 10’s,” and reasons to why everyone needs to shop ethical. But it didn’t prove to me how things were decidedly ethical, how these brands managed their supply chains differently, and the very real struggle of doing things with the less conventional approach. Where were all the makers in this conversation?
Some one-on-one phone calls later, here is what we have to share: some behind-the-scene looks into ethical fashion from the people who live, breathe, and dream the words. There is so much to be said about this diverse community of entrepreneurs. However, there's one definite thing that has captured my imagination and attention: the genuine and infallible drive that is shared amongst every person in this community to create more good than what they arrived to see.
So we try to talk more, buy less. Ask the questions that excite, and start the conversations that not only inspire, but empower.
I hope this series has been able to do at least one of those things for you.
Thanks for following.