Sustainability and Inclusive Fashion
As COP26 comes to an end, businesses across all sectors are thinking about what they can do to lessen their impact on the environment and approach production in a way that is friendlier to the environment and safe for consumers.
For microbusinesses, often led and funded by an individual or duo, it can be tricky to find the right balance when it comes to manufacturing in particular. Sure, there are factories in Leicester that can create garments for you for under a tenner per piece, but how sustainable are they? How do they treat their workers? How much waste are they responsible for?
As a business owner, you want to secure cost savings so that you can pass them on to your customer and make sure it's not breaking the bank to buy your products, but the reality of manufacturing makes that process incredibly hard if you're a one-woman band with a small business. And many of the people running disability-conscious companies are exactly that.
At Kintsugi, we try to be as transparent as possible about what we do. We worked with Bryden, a manufacturer headquartered in Singapore, to create our first collection. Their ethics were one reason we chose them. They avoid exploitation of both workers and natural resources, provide safe working environments with no forced labour or employees under the age of 16, and pay at least the minimum living wage as a basic pay.
Bryden works with fabric mills that are GOTS certified & OEKO-TEX 100 certified which means they have been tested to be safe for human use and using organic manufacturing practices.
What's tricky when it comes to manufacturing in general, however, is the requirement to meet minimum order quantities. The more pieces of apparel you order, the cheaper the cost per garment. But this process contributes to waste. Customers want 'new in' and, if you don't sell most of your stock, that's a potential source of massive waste.
Many clothing companies are now trying to use deadstock - leftover and unused fabrics - or to upcycle and rework existing pieces into new garments. But this process costs more money that, if you haven't sold enough stock, is difficult to finance. As a business owner in the fashion space, I'd like to see more grants made available to help companies avoid waste and, instead, use deadstock to create 'new' items.
Without the adequate support, small business owners in the fashion space will likely struggle to engage meaningfully in sustainable practices, especially when it comes to the waste problem this industry currently has.
Image by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash