With every passing year, we are seeing more companies addressing social issues and aim for sustainability. These days, more than 90% of CEOs consider sustainability to be absolutely important for success. As a brand, being sustainable is one that has fully integrated an environmentally, economical and socially conscious awareness into their business operations. However, even with just one of these aspects covered, brands these days can be considered a part of the sustainability initiative.
Examples of sustainability initiatives
There are plenty of ways companies and brands that have an aim for sustainability. The following are a list of examples of actions to position yourself correctly.
- Develop sustainable products and services
- Create business models centered around sustainability
- Create positions like Chief Sustainability Officer
- Create KPIs for sustainability, establishing reports
- Support corporate activism, as 86% of consumers want companies to stand for a social issue, with 64% of them likely to buy from such companies.
Additionally, in a report done by Global Web Index, 42% of U.S. and UK consumers stated that products using sustainable materials were important to day-to-day purchasing. In the same respect, according to Horizon Media’s Finger on the Pulse study, 81% of Millennials expected companies to announce their corporate citizenship publicly, illustrating that to the modern consumer, isn’t simply about products anymore, it’s about service and being purpose-driven.
The top 5 sustainability brands to look out for
More and more brands are getting behind the sustainability movement and with the fashion industry being a major pollutant to the world at large, it is important for retailers to support and see how they can get involved. The following sustainability brands below are some of the tops that are leading the forefront of this movement.
Co-founded by Shilpa Shah & Karla Gallardo, this brand encourages quality over quantity, as they promote and provide styles and looks that “transcend time,” being highly sustainable.
With their brand name meaning ‘to love’ in Quechua, they focus on designing women’s essentials, with a range of products from American-made heavyweight silk crepe de chine blouses to Peruvian alpaca scarves. With a tagline of “fewer, better things,” their emphasis is to consume less, but gain more, as they hold quality-driven products.
Launched in 2013, Cuyana has expanded its direct-to-consumer business model to where they offer buyers more ways to shop, whether it be through a visit to a San Francisco showroom or via an NYC holiday pop-up shop. In the end, Cuyana demonstrates a level of sustainability that is not common these days, as they drive down costs by being a direct-to-consumer brand and launched the Lean Closet Program, where a customer receives a reusable bag to be filled with old clothes and shipped back to Cuyana for donation.
A women’s fashion brand aimed to put sustainability and humanity back into fashion. Based in Toronto, Canada, the design with their tagline in mind, “be more with less.” Selling directly to consumers through the website, they offer their clothing at a reasonable price point, with a versatile range of designs to select from.
With 100% of their clothing sewn in Toronto, Canada, they produce in season and by demand. The company is part of the Canadian Apparel Federation, an organization built to support made-in-Canada retailers and designers. In addition, the fabrics they choose have sustainable benefits, with minimal impact on the environment through the longevity of wear. For example, the three major fabrics they invest in are modal, Tencel and bamboo, all of which are biodegradable and sustainable.
Lastly, the dyes used in their fabrics are OEKO-TEK 100 Standard certified, meaning they are free of harmful chemicals. This ultimately means that they are better, not only for your skin and health but the environment as a whole.
Launched in 2009 by Yael Aflalo, Reformation is based in downtown Los Angeles, where they are most famously known for their party dresses. With sustainability at the core of everything they do, the brand celebrated its 10th anniversary this year and has fans ranging from celebrities Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Karlie Kloss.
They are one company that managed to prove, being sustainable can be cool, while also being good for the world. With an estimated revenue in 2017 as being more than $100 million, it raised a $25 million Series B funding round in December of the same year. One of the reasons for its success has been its quick production process.
It uses eco-friendly materials and reuses offcuts during the manufacturing process. Moreover, it reduces its carbon footprint by manufacturing close to where it is sold. Another interesting attribute to their business is the RefScale, where each of their garments are broken down to illustrate the item’s impact on the environment for you. On top of all that, they use recycled paper hangers and use 100% consumer waste materials.
This US-based fashion retailer is known for creating high-quality clothing while using “ethical factories”, all the while being transparent about their business. Founded in 2010 by Michael Preysman and Jesse Farmer, they originally started off selling menswear, with a focus on high-quality apparel with transparent pricing.
In relation to their idea of transparency, people can trace each product on the Everlane site back to the factory that made it. This information helps to inform customers on who made their clothes, from where, and how. Taking it a step further, their transparent pricing guides are listed underneath each garment, where they display just how much they paid for materials, labour, and transport, as well as how much profit they make per piece.
Everlane also has their ReNew initiative, which aims to eliminate virgin plastic from its supply chain (down to the packaging) by 2021. Often times, within the industry, many people at the back, in the office may not know exactly where they’re sourcing their clothes from, but with Everlane, this is far from being a problem.
In 2016, upon launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money to develop a capsule collection that consisted of five garments that could be mixed and matched to create 30 outfits, founders Cara Bartlett & Vanessa van Zyl soon found their brand gaining quite a lot of traction in the fashion scene.
With an aim for minimalism, Vetta Capsule works with sustainable fabrics and responsible factories. The clothing is made in a family-run factory in NYC that has been around for 30 years. Moreover, the sweaters are knitted by a partner factory in Los Angeles, which is audited annually for social and environmental compliance.
Primarily using Tencel (from sustainably harvested wood pulp processed in a closed-looped system that recycles solvents), Organic Cotton, and deadstock fabric, the brand analyzes the impact of each fabric throughout its life cycle. Their belief lies in the idea that people do not need to sacrifice style for sustainability. In addition, their poly bags, inserts, and packing slips are made from 100% recycled materials, while their boxes are of recycled and FSC certified materials.
Sustainability is more than strictly caring for the environment. The initiative to make your brand more sustainable involves being conscious of three major aspects that help make this world a better place – environmental, economic and social. It is only by taking these into consideration, a brand can position itself as a true sustainability leader.
Moreover, beyond the ways mentioned in the beginning of the article, there are other aspects of a business that brands can concentrate to reduce deadstock, thereby putting out less inventory waste out into the world. For example, with AI-driven predictive analytics solutions, retailers and brands can learn to replenish their products accurately, at the right time and with the right price. Not only does this help empower brands to make smarter decisions, it ultimately links profitability with sustainability, killing two birds with one stone.fashion brandssustainability