Written by Haley Berry, PR Manager, Tiny Box Company
Whether you are representing ethical clothing brands or running one yourself, it’s crucial to ensure that before you land press, you carefully review any and all eco-claims made. After all, nothing spells the kiss of death more than a brand who positions itself as green, only to be discovered to be anything but…According to a recent Unilever study, sustainability issues are increasingly affecting shopping decisions, with 21% of people saying they would support brands that clearly convey sustainability aspects through their marketing and packaging.
Consumers and editors are more informed than ever about the concept of green washing; making eco-friendly and apparent green claims when, if you scratch below the surface, things aren’t so rosy. One of our customers, Jo Salter from ethical fashion brand, Where does it come from? agrees that there is a growing interest, among millennials specifically, to be fully informed about the ethical practices connected to purchase. She said, ‘ I believe there is a growing backlash against throwaway culture and a wish to connect more with what we eat, wear and use in our daily lives.
All to say, the rise in ethical fashion is not just because clever marketing; consumers tastes and thoughts are changing. As both brands and PR professionals, we need to understand the landscape and be able to advise on what we can and cannot say across marketing materials and editor outreach.
Here are 5 talking points to discuss before an ethical brand campaign launch:
From process to materials and supply chain…and yes fabric, there are multiple questions to ask ethical fashion brands before you sign on to represent them and promote them to the media.
1. What is your policy with regard to employee and factory wages?
Even if items may be being made locally, that doesn’t instantly equate to fair working conditions. Get clear on employee policies, benefits and wages, as well as those along the production line.
2. How do you seek to reduce your Carbon Footprint?
Fabrics may be ethically sourced but how are they shipped? It’s the carbon footprint of every single item you are using, not just the big things, that people will ask about.
3. Is your packaging in alignment with your ethical ethos?
I may be biased as I work for a recycled packaging company, but the majority of brands who promote ethical fashion are using packaging that is anything but mindful of the environment. Ask about the origins of all packaging and shipping materials, whether it is recycled and recyclable and how those items are shipped over.
4. What do you do with scraps and spares?
Does the brand do anything proactive with excess fabric, trimmings, etc? Donating spares to local school to use in craft sessions or developing products out of scraps themselves is not only ethically mindful, but can be a PR story right there!
5. How well do you know your suppliers?
We’ve touched on greenwashing with consumers but it’s also important to mention about green washing with suppliers too. Even if a supplier says their offering is ethical, make sure the brand has done their due diligence and reviewed environmental policies. Any genuine company with an ethical ethos at their heart will be happy to chat about their products and their origins.
Brands – make sure you have dissected every area of your business to ensure you completely ethical to the core. PR professionals – dig deeper with your clients to get the full story; it will help you to tell the most accurate and inspiring story possible.
Hayley is PR Manager for ethical and eco-friendly gift packaging brand, Tiny Box Company. The company was started by Rachel Watkyn, who struggled to find eco-friendly packaging for her ethical jewellery business. Ten years later, the brand has 1000’s of customers including many ethical fashion businesses. As well as shouting about all things eco-friendly, the business also supports ethical fashion events and has recently donated recycled gift bags to a Fashion Revolution event organised by Where does it come from? and #ethicalhour in London as well an event by Fashion Circle.