I wanted to switch back to sustainability as well and talk about how much you think the average consumer cares about sustainability. And how much they can do when buying their clothes.
I think people care a lot these days. I think it’s become so dominant that it’s very hard not to care and would be strange not to. Again, young people are caring a lot more as well, as it becomes much more the default setting. I remember when I was young and very in to climate change and global warming back then, but it didn’t seem like something anyone was in to, very much an outsider concern. Whereas now it’s very, very mainstream. It’s definitely something people can do something about. In particularly with small craft-based brands that we cover, you can definitely do something about it because it’s much easier to have a direct connection to the companies.
You can talk to someone in a shop and that person will know the owner of the company. Having the direct connection with them doesn’t really happen with the fashion brands. I think you can be quite informed and educated with how you make your decisions about what you buy. We’ve written a few articles where we’ve talked to a sustainability journalist and expert, and we talked about how menswear compares to other areas of clothing and what you can do to try and do better. The overall conclusions were, by far the best thing you can do is buy less and buy second-hand and resell and reuse. Just consume less. That’s much more important overall than whether you buy leather or don’t buy leather, whether your things are imported from China or not. By far the most important thing is to just consume less.
Do you think those smaller brands are pivoting towards sustainability far quicker and with more agility than the bigger brands are able to?
Good question. I think in theory they would be more agile, because they’re smaller and it is definitely easier for someone at the top of the company to make that kind of decision. I think often their problem is their production processes are quite fixed and there isn’t much they can do about those. If you’re a big producer in a fashion brand and you get work from a certain factory in India, you can say to that factory, “ok, either you change your processes, or we’ll go somewhere else and find a more sustainable supplier.”
With these craft-based brands, they own their own production and to change anything comes at significant cost. So that is tricky. You can improve things like your packaging, which makes a big difference, you can do things like have an active program around reselling old items which can be very positive. But in many ways, they should be able to change more but often it’s more difficult. Also, I think, because they’re small the impact of their changes will be pretty small as well. If an H&M makes a decision around where they’re sourcing things from or about their shipping practices, it makes a much bigger difference than these small menswear companies.