November 14, 2013

The Cool Factor

Eco-fashion including doing good and vintage shopping has finally gained a significant cool factor. There are no longer any stigmas around this type of "granola" lifestyle and it is all driven by Generation Y, technology and innovation.

Especially, after all the unbearable natural disasters and recent factory tragedies in Bangladesh, people have opened their eyes and mouths to change. As they say, out with the old and in with the new (kinda).

At the forefront of these ideals is the fashion label Everlane whose Founder Michael Preysman recently took a trip to China to not only check in with factories but document footage on his findings. Previously, he shared a video series of the t-shirt factory used that is based in LA. However, this time around, he took the transparency of his company one step further by exposing the harsh misconceptions surrounding Chinese factories. And he's not alone, as many other companies are beginning to open up about their business practices with some even signing agreements towards bettering safety measures and the general well-being of workers.

We're quickly moving towards an all around notion of "Radical Transparency." Online brands in specific are beginning to offer more limited selections versus a plethora of mass produced merchandise. Some are even lowering markups by cutting out the middle man to offer a higher quality product at a more competitive price. Their focus has shifted towards a more minimal, high-end luxury experience because in the end, it's all about the product. Not to mention, they are using a more modern and cost-effective form of marketing through social media platforms, pop-up shops and brand partnerships.

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The new consumer has become part of a global community that is extremely conscious and believes in a "New Normal." Questions are being asked, answers demanded and companies are expected to be responsible and transparent for their actions. So how radical can we get? Could the next step be a fully transparent supply chain? Meet the platform Zady that let's customers know at the click of a finger if something is made locally, handmade, sustainable, or made in the US, etc. Not only do they operate a see-through supply chain, but currently have a pop-up shop at La Guardia airport.

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With a million brands making similar products, a well reported story, emotional attachment and strong philosophy are what makes one company stand out from the next. The home decor store Given Goods is the perfect example of this with their high impact driven business. To them, their main focus is to communicate what they are doing to help the community around them. Whether its donating money to an organization or employing the locally unemployed, Given Goods makes sure to give back their fair share.

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There's also WE'VE another home decor e-commerce site, which is instead crystal clear about their manufacturing processes. Once pre-order minimums are met for artisan made products, videos and photos are shared with buyers so they can more thoroughly experience the entire production process. So now we can really feel good about how we spend our money.

photo via NY Times

Tom's has even launched a new online store called Toms Marketplace that features over 200 products from 30 different companies and charities worldwide. The company is really intermingling their mission of "doing good" into their business strategy.

photo via WWD

Our beliefs are shifting to really value the importance of being apart of something bigger. Kind of like what industry pioneer Patagonia is doing with the launch of "The Responsible Economy" campaign which hopes to trigger a global discussion that will eventually result in some type of political change. Patagonia has been one of the most proactive and transparent brands urging consumers to buy less, repair, or resell.

If you haven't already noticed, a new people-powered economy is emerging and it's actively affecting the supply chain. Through community driven websites like Etsy, consumers are no longer just buying from retailers, but they are purchasing from other consumers. Through these people to craft/trade connecting platforms, local is going global, materials are being innovatively reused and it's giving the average person a chance to be an entrepreneur. The facts of life are changing and it just so happens there's nothing cooler than doing a little good. 

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