“What do you mean by ethical or sustainable fashion?” is a question we get a lot when we mention Beyneu. It’s a understandable question. There are so many brands out there claiming that they’re ethical and sustainable, but how do you know that they actually are? We know how confusing it can be, so we decided to answer that question here.
One of the main things we look for when on-boarding new brands is Transparency. According to Fashion Revolution, Transparency is “public disclosure of brands’ policies, procedures, goals and commitments, performance, progress and real-world impacts on workers, communities and the environment.” In short, you, as a consumer, can easily find out if a brand has a positive or negative effect on the environment and the lives of their employees. At BEYNEU, we ensure that our brands are completely transparent. This means that you can ask us,
“Is this organic?”
“Who made this dress?”
“Is the artisan paid a living wage?”
and we can answer your questions in detail. To make it even easier to access, we add the transparency details to each of our products, so you can see the impact as you shop.
However, being transparent isn’t the only thing we look for in brands. It rarely happens, but a brand could be transparent and not ethical or sustainable at all. So what are the factors we look for in a transparent brand? There are many different questions we ask when looking to see whether a brand is ethical and sustainable:
Is the brand Fair Trade certified or does it at least fulfil requirements to be Fairtrade certified?
In order for a brand to be Fairtrade certified, it has to be tested and meet a host of conditions that are hard to fake, so it’s a safe bet that it’s an ethical and sustainable brand. However, the testing process is quite expensive and not always possibility for small, independent brands. Therefore, we ask each company if they comply with the same requirements.
Are all employees paid a living wage and able to access a decent standard of living?
Every one of our brands must pay their artisans a living wage. We believe its just common sense that people should be paid fairly for the work that they do. Living wages give workers access to safe and decent standards of living and enables them to care for themselves and their families.
Are employees working within safe and fair conditions?
We think it is completely necessary for brands to ensure the safety of their employees. Working environments should be safe and clean, so that we can avoid tragedies likeRana Plaza in the future. Artisans should be given access to a fair amount of hours, but not required to work more than is safe and healthy.
Does the company help empower its workers and their communities?
We like to know that each brand we stock strengthens their workers and the areas which they live in. Therefore all our brands should give equal opportunities to women and minorities, and give their communities access to opportunities and services that aren’t regularly available.
Mor Wares 100% organic cotton t-shirt. Made in Cornwall.
Are there policies in place to protect the environment?
It is vital that our brands protect the environment around them. Whether it’s abstaining from depleting natural resources, using environmentally friendly fabrics and dyes, or opposing the mass production of their pieces, each company should be doing their part to put less stress on the earth rather than contribute to its destruction.
We believe that our brands should meet all of these standards. We don’t believe that ethics and sustainability are mutually exclusive, and we certainly don’t believe being green as a trend. However, this is something of which many fashion brands are guilty. It’s Greenwashing, and it is harmful to the cause. So what is greenwashing, and why are we trying to avoid it? Greenwashing is when a brand claims that they are environmentally friendly, when in fact, they are not. An example would be H&M and Zara releasing their eco-friendly lines, when they are some of the biggest names in fast fashion. Fast fashion is harmful to the planet due to the speed at which it is created. No amount of eco-friendly lines are going to change that fact.
As well as failing in sustainability, fast fashion’s ethics leaves more to be desired. Brands such Primark and Benetton were some of the big names producing clothing in Rana Plaza when it collapsed. Most fast fashion companies do not disclose where, or by who, their clothing is created. In short, they are not transparent.
The good news is that there are more ways now to shop ethically and sustainably than before. You can check up on your favourite brands using rankabrand.org. It’s easy to use and informative. Vintage shopping is an incredible option, as it’s a carbon footprint free way to shop. If you’re buying something new, you can support independent ethical brands through us or by doing a little bit of research.