When I first started my career in fashion as a young designer who had never been to fashion school and had no idea what “seasonal trend” even meant, fashion was a very curious world full of impossible deadlines and numbers to meet.
There were unspeakable rules set in stone, guaranteed margins that forced factories to eat unfair losses, and poaching of talents and properties on all levels that are hidden from regular consumers. It was also a place where designers hardly slept nor had the time to really design into anything as everything was driven by the fast fashion calendar with 8-12 deliveries every single year. What originality we had was quickly sacrificed by sell-ability, margin, and what is trending. And so it was when I first started, and so it seemed fated to remain.
Then something happened in the last 10 years where more and more independent brands and fashion startups such as Everlane, Toms, Reformation, and JW Pei, just to name a few, started to open up their product life cycle processes, becoming transparent and honest not just about how they run their businesses, but also who they run it with. All of a sudden consumers can read and find answers on these brands' websites that openly share with the world about not just what they sell, but who they are partnered with, how much do they make per product, and what type of material they used in each product.
The hush hush secrecy and exclusiveness that have pervaded the fashion industry for so long is finally being replaced by a refreshing sense of honesty, inclusiveness, and accessibility of who they are and what their core values are about. And Don't forget the SIZES!! Finally sizes that will actually fit all body types! They also care about the environment and are dedicated to using such alternative materials as recycled plastic bottles and vegan leather. But rather than concocting eco friendly products as merely another seasonal fad to win exposure, they’re staking their entire businesses on it. All I can say is WOW.
It is encouraging and invigorating for me to see the efforts of these independent brands disrupting the industry silent norm and carving out their own way to success and integrity. They have inspired me to be more selective of the type of customers I take on, as profit shouldn't be the only considering factor. Kudos to all these brands who are blazing a new path into fashion!
Conscious fashion = Conscious Consumerism, one step at a time, we’ll get there.