These days it’s more and more common for consumers to research and really look into where they’re investing their money.
We’re experiencing higher demand for brands, specifically in the fashion industry, to be transparent in the ways in which they produce and manufacture their products. The thing is, how do we as consumers find out more about it and how do we as brands implement sustainable practices moving forward?
We asked Jasmine Mayhead, founder of Ethical Made Easy, a few questions. What is Ethical Made Easy? Well, she explains below.
1. Tell us all about Ethical Made Easy and how it came about?
In 2016 I spent some time travelling through Cambodia and it was there that I became a master of haggling handbags down to prices not much more than what we’d pay for a coffee here in Australia. One night after a particularly successful haggle, I stumbled across The True Cost (which I encourage everybody to watch), and this documentary exposed me to the heartbreaking truths of the fast fashion industry. It was the harsh, honest wake up call I needed, and I’m so grateful for Safia Minney and the other incredible human beings featured in it.
As for Ethical Made Easy, it was actually a personal account—it was my own way of keeping myself accountable for the consumer choices I was making in my own life. More and more people started to join me on my journey, and it grew into a community of likeminded consumers looking to make changes in their everyday habits. Three years later we have a thriving ethical brand directory, informative and uplifting articles shared weekly, a family spanning countries and languages, and here I am today, talking to you!
2. In your experience, why is sustainability important for brands?
Sustainable practices should not only be important for brands and businesses but it should also be mandatory. Myself and others in the ethical fashion game have seen the detrimental effects the fast fashion industry has brought upon those countries and communities on which it relies, and the reality is brutal.
There will always be a demand for clothes, for shoes, for skincare, so there needs to be practices and systems put in place by the companies supplying these necessities to consumers that allow it to be maintained and sustained on this planet. Our earth has finite resources and we are extracting them at an alarming and devastating rate, so it is not only my experience that proves to me the importance of sustainability for brands, it is the cold hard facts that are available right at our fingertips.
3. In May this year, we went to Semi Permanent, where we heard an interesting fact: “by 2020, Gen Z (born between 1995-2010) will make up 35% of the population” they then went on to say that this generation are much more environmentally focussed and want change. How do you think this is affecting the way consumers buy?
In my own experience, I believe this to be true. I think this generation is slowly becoming aware of the mistakes carried out by the generations before, and so we are not only willing, but obligated, to try and fix them. This would obviously have a massive affect on the way in which buy our clothes and the values we hold up against our purchases.
I also think that with the rise of social media—Instagram in particular—a completely new way of shopping has presented itself. People can really afford to be picky and hone in on what it is they want from a brand, and these brands have the platform to be completely transparent in the way they do business. No one can hide from the truth anymore and I think this is shifting the way consumers buy, and the way businesses produce.
4. In your eyes, and from a marketers perspective, what is your argument to brands who aren’t interested in changing their ways to align with how consumers will buy in the future?
From a marketer’s perspective, I think it is more advantageous now than it ever has been to promote a more ethical and sustainable way of producing. As stated before, “this generation are much more environmentally focussed and want change.” If brands aren’t going to acknowledge the destructiveness of the fashion industry then maybe they’ll understand that, from a business viewpoint, it will benefit them to change the way in which they produce their garments.
From a consumer’s perspective, it’s not an argument so much as it is a request for those brands to pull their heads out and get their minds into the 21st Century. We all share this planet, which means we all need to take care of it, and these brands—and the consumers who by from them—are not exempt. As Andrew Morgan said: “The reality is that as human beings we make choices, the choices we make around what we wear are having profound implications for our planet as well as some of our most vulnerable human beings.”
5. Lastly, do you think brands are doing enough in this space? If not, how can they do more to support it?
There are some incredible brands—a lot of whom we feature in the Ethical Made Easy Brand Directory—that are creating change in an industry they are no longer happy with. These brands are going out of their way to ensure every aspect of their supply chain is not rife with exploitation, but with ethical, sustainable and transparent practices that are benefiting people and the planet. With all of the green washing and false promises by some of the industry heavyweights (H&M and Zara, I’m talking to you), it has been difficult for consumers to know exactly where their money is going, even if they have been trying to shop with more of an ethical and sustainable eye.
What Ethical Made Easy and the brands we collaborate with are trying to do is to give consumers options, options immensely more environmentally and socially friendly than those given by the fast fashion industry. Consumers have a right to know where their money is going, and businesses owe them this duty of care. At the end of the day, though, we as consumers drive change, and we can choose to support those brands making a positive impact in an otherwise negatively impactful industry.
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