Why & How More Apparel Brands Should be Sustainable
by Stephanie Vermaas
Jun 13, 2019
When I launched THIS IS A LOVE SONG, I decided my target consumers would be millennials. As of this year, millennials hold the most spending power out of every generation. In the United States alone, they spent $200 billion in 2017, thus becoming the target for entrepreneurs across the globe. The question we’re all asking is: what do millennials want?
According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018, millennials “yearn for leaders whose decisions might benefit the world—and their careers.” The vast majority of consumers prefer businesses that care about social change, and millennials do their research; they know when charity or movement is exploited to better a company’s image. Millennials want to know where products come from and if they are harmful to the environment or to the products’ makers; fast fashion comes with a cost ‒ and it isn’t monetary. So I opened a discussion with Ana Kristiansson from Apparel Entrepreneurship on how to build a sustainable clothing brand.
1. What is the goal of Apparel Entrepreneurship?
ANA: Our goal is to help apparel entrepreneurs all over the world, no matter background, launch, run and grow successful and meaningful apparel brands.
Our vision is to reduce the environmental harm in the apparel industry, through education, inspiration, and motivation for better
2. Why do you think it is more important than ever for brands to make sustainable choices?
ANA: Looking at the bigger picture, we want the coming generation to have a healthy planet to live on.
The apparel industry is the 3rd most polluting industry in the world, after the meat and the oil industries. With major global issues caused by the apparel industry, it’s more important than ever to start taking responsibility and implement sustainability practices in apparel businesses.
The average apparel clothing consumer buys 60% more clothing items per year than 15 years ago. Unfortunately, consumers also keep the products for half as long as 15 years ago. It’s no news that we consume enormous amounts of products, get rid of them and buy new.
An estimated 92 million tons of textile waste is created every year from the clothing industry and is estimated to increase by about 60% between 2015 and 2030, with an additional new 57 million tons of waste generated annually. The anticipated total clothing waste in 2030 is 148 million tons, which is equivalent to an annual waste of 175 kg per capita across the planet.
These alarming numbers have made the entire industry question itself. Every brand, big and small, can contribute to drive change within the apparel industry. By bringing awareness through information and education, every consumer in their turn, can be a catalyst for change!
Being a sustainable apparel brand means having as little impact on the planet as possible. It takes care of the people involved in and around the business and has a sound and profitable business setup.
It means that the consumer that buys apparel products is safe and never harmed because of dangerous chemicals. It means that workers that manufacture apparel products work in a safe environment and are paid fair wages.
We can’t go back and undo the harm, but we can make things better now and in the future. For sure the best way is to design long-lasting products that customers will love, that are product developed from environmentally friendly materials and produced in ethical ways.
3. What tips would you give to someone wanting to start a brand today?
The fundamentals of a sustainable apparel business:
- First off you need to decide, as a brand, that sustainability is your top priority. This will make all the decision in the future easier.
- Design and produce products with a purpose.
- Know the supply chain inside out.
- Raise awareness and educate your customers.
- Make hustle and perseverance your best friends.
Ana's tips above are very important as fast fashion is common with larger corporations who are focused on speed, volume and low prices.
I took these steps to heart when I established THIS IS A LOVE SONG. Born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, I followed my passion towards fashion to improve my homeland community.
THIS IS A LOVE SONG kicked off in 2012 with the aim of creating a safe working environment and fair employment opportunities for the locals in my community in Indonesia. But when I launched the brand, I was dissatisfied putting workers in the hands of someone else; I wanted to ensure full control over product manufacturing and workplace environment. So we launched our own fair trade studio in the island of Bali where all of our products are made; there is a not a cell of my company that I am unfamiliar with, allowing my brand to be sustainable.
At THIS IS A LOVE SONG, sustainability means that we use eco-friendly materials and that TIALS STUDIO maintains a safe workplace environment for our employees in Bali, Indonesia; they are paid fair wages and provided with health care and retirement plans for their future. Although this means that the prices of our products are less competitive than other mass produced brands, we find it more important to create products that are high quality and thus give back to the community that supports us. Our customers deem this very important as well, so brands who cater to millennials should bear in mind that the majority of consumers prefers businesses that positively implement social change.
As Ana mentioned, we cannot go back in time and undo the harm caused by the fashion industry, but we can take steps big and small for the sake of our planet’s future.
When creating your brand, it is crucial to create long-lasting products from environmentally friendly materials that your customers will love, care for, and pass onto future generations as opposed to ending up in a landfill.
Hope this insight helps!