With massive drops in retail sales, brands are taking a hard hit — including small, sustainable brands that do right by their makers. With less orders coming in, it’s not just corporate offices and retail workers that are suffering. Small, sustainable brands that work to provide admirable livelihoods for their garment makers and suppliers are finding themselves in positions they never hoped to be in — after all, most ethical brands exist for the purpose bettering the lives of garment workers and suppliers around the globe. So what happens to small brands when sales stop, and more significantly, what happens to their makers?
We Are HAH, a brand that specializes in lingerie and swimwear, is already seeing almost 100% of retail cancellations from its retail partners for March through June orders, resulting in an immediate loss of over 80% of the brand’s planned revenue. Sharleen Ernster, founder and CEO of We Are HAH, shares, “Supporting our fHAHmily is at the core of HAH, and this pandemic has brought an extreme strain on our heart center. Our suppliers will feel this all the way back to the seed of creating each product. My team relies on me, and we are making tough decisions everyday. Everyone is affected by our loss of sales… everyone.”
For many garment makers that work for ethical brands, these jobs are their only safety nets, often providing them with living wages and health care benefits that they wouldn’t see if they worked for factories contracted by fast fashion brands. With sales slowing down for small brands, makers are set to lose the most.
Kohl Crecelius, CEO and co-founder of Known Supply, spoke of the importance of sales during this precarious time: “Purchasing ethically produced clothing is one small way to help protect vulnerable populations around the globe. [Known Supply] first prioritizes the health and wellbeing of everyone, which will mean we will need to be flexible with deliveries and timelines. We are also committed to getting creative and ensuring our business weathers this storm so that we can maintain our impact in the months and years to come.”
For those of us fortunate enough to work from home during the coronavirus epidemic, when it comes to fashion, comfort is key (after all, no one can tell if you’re wearing pajama bottoms while you take your morning Zoom call). However, even as working from home has become the “new normal” for millions in quarantine, it’s worth noting that what you put on your body can actually help support garment makers while the retail industry suffers.
By supporting sustainable brands that have received Remake’s Seal of Approval, you’re providing financial support to companies that are offering more to their makers. Many of the brands listed in our Sustainable Brands Directory offer living wages, benefits, and health care to their makers — and at a time like this, makers need this help more than ever.
During the past few weeks, it’s been heartwarming to see compassion and community arise out of such unfortunate circumstances. Fashion students coming together to sew masks for health professionals, restaurant patrons supporting neighborhood eateries, grocery stores opening an hour early for senior citizens — shouldn’t that same sense of solidarity be reflected in the fashion brands we choose to support? From silky PJs to ultrasoft separates, these brands are not only perfect to rock while you take those remote calls and work from home, they’re committed to the well-being of those who make our clothes even during this time of uncertainty.
Soft. Simple. Sustainable. With a tagline like that it’s hard not to see why Alternative Apparel ranks high on our list of #WFH staples. Known for luxuriously soft minimalist basics like tees, tanks, hoodies, and sweatpants, this company is so much more than #basic. Alternative Apparel ensures fair, safe, and clean workplace conditions on a global scale. In fact, a majority of its factories are WRAP-certified while all adhere to Fair Labor Association guidelines and a workplace code of conduct. Each garment the brand produces is also crafted with sustainable materials and processes, including organic and recycled materials, low-impact dyes, and water-conserving washes.
If you’re looking for something comfortable enough for working from home and strong enough for working out, look no further than Vyayama. Quickly go from writing emails in your kitchen to yoga in your living room with ease in a pair of this brand’s famous leggings. A great alternative to synthetic activewear, this non-toxic sustainable brand is both kind to your skin and ethically made. On top of its environmentally friendly fabrics, all of its dye-houses have clean internal water treatments and don’t cause any negative impacts on the local environment. After the creation of its custom fabrics, Vyayama ensures that all are third party tested and certified 100% safe for the wearer by the European Oeko-tex Standard 100. In addition to its eco-friendly efforts, Vayama holds a high standard to those it partners with for production. Currently the brand only works with production partners whose teams are protected by unions and hold strict health and safety standards.
We Are HAH
Having a hard time changing out of your PJs? You don’t have to with We Are HAH. Born out of the desire for MORE — more sensibility, more sustainability, and more attainability in the designer market, this apparel company specializes in eco-friendly swimwear, lingerie, dresses, bodysuits, and now — satin PJs! The female-led brand recently launched a sustainable collection of uber chic unisex sleepwear, HERS & HIS AND THEIRS #HAHT, made of recycled plastic bottles featuring bold prints and colors. In addition to the collection’s use of green fabric, the PJs’ unique, eye-catching prints are achieved by using eco-friendly digital and sublimation printing techniques which use 95% less water than traditional printing and reduces the use of toxic dyestuff. Did we mention that the brand’s pieces are super easy to care for too? No dryers, dry cleaning, or ironing needed, just machine wash on cold and hang dry!
For those of us who want a little more flair from our #WFH outfits, turn to Groceries Apparel. With its tie-dyed tanks and striped tees to cozy knits, the LA-based brand offers so much more than style to its customers. The company is redefining transparency and human responsibility by supporting family farms, localized manufacturing, living wages, and 100% GMO-free, pesticide and herbicide-free ingredients. The brand also aims to empower human beings through fair conditions and treatment across its entire supply chain, providing full traceability to customers. To ensure that its standards are fully executed, Groceries Apparel operates its own California based factory that sews and finishes garments made from organic cotton, eucalyptus, recycled plastic, hemp, recycled cotton, and vegetable dye. The company believes that vertically-integrated, local, and traceable production maximizes quality, efficiency, and employee pay, while minimizing redundancy, waste, and our carbon footprint.
If you’re curious to know who made your clothes and the impact your purchases make, Known Supply is for you! Because the brand was founded on the belief that jobs change lives and that fair wages restore dignity for individuals and provide tangible pathways out of poverty, they mainly work with underserved populations. The company also partners with Fair Trade Certified producers and direct trade relationships to ensure that it is bringing its customers only the best, most ethical clothes. Continuously committed to improving the inputs that go into its products, the majority of Known Supply’s collection is made using organic cotton, creating significant water savings in the production of every garment. Moreover, Known Supply utilizes GOTS Certified organic cotton for nearly everything it produces. Finally, in an effort to share its mission of humanizing apparel with individuals, each piece at Known Supply is hand-signed by it’s maker, inviting consumers to learn more about that person.
Threads 4 Thought
Need a little comfort AND some color in your life? Check out Threads 4 Thought and its just-launched newest triblend colorway, Casablanca pink. If you’re a fan of Millennial Pink, this shade is for you. For T4T, creating products that leave an innately smaller impact on the environment, supporting local communities, and assisting in changing the narrative and understanding of ethical standards within the fashion industry is key. It’s because of this that the brands’ tees, sweatshirts, bottoms, and dresses are made from some of the world’s most sustainable materials like organic cotton, recycled polyester, and lenzing modal. Threads 4 Thought’s factories around the world hold the highest certifications in the industry, ensuring the best working conditions, highest level of sustainable production processes, and the most rigorous of ethical standards. Finally, the brand’s long lasting partnership with the International Rescue Committee has given countless refugee communities the opportunity for a quality of life every human being deserves.
If you thought that there was no such thing as THE perfect tee, think again. Toronto-based KOTN, maker of quality essentials ethically made from Eqyptian cotton, believes that traceability — the knowledge of where a product came from, who made it, how, and when — shouldn’t be a luxury but a standard. That’s why the brand was built from the ground up, working directly with every step of its supply chain, starting with the raw cotton. In addition to being transparent about its products, KOTN advocates for fair and equal pay, safe working conditions, and education for all. Working with a local NGO, the company is aiming to provide every child in its farming communities in Nile Delta with a quality education. Each purchase at KOTN funds the build-out and operation of school infrastructure, salaries to teachers, laptops, maintenance for the roads that link communities to their schools, books, school supplies, science labs, water, and electricity.