Last Wednesday I gave a lecture at ESADE Business School, a course about Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. It was an amazing experience and, hopefully, very helpful for the students. I really try to convey my passion for my work.
We had a class with 58 students – about a third from China, a third from the US, and a third from Europe – all very engaged and eager to learn. They were a great group and it was great to hear their thoughts:
How did you get interested in producing fashion? I studied both graphic and fashion Design. Producing Fashion is a fantastic way of doing both areas at the same time.
How did you get interested in producing sustainable fashion?
Before RebelRoot I had another brand called The Mystic Onion. With the economic crisis we saw a few years ago, providers and clients were gone so I had to start again.
Six years ago I was traveling around Sud-East Asia and I realized how important Fair trade is. Fair trade not only helps those involved secure a better future but also ensures their working rights are fully protected as well as their work properly compensated. Also it protects our future as a unique brand making unique and beautiful pieces.
Once you decided on producing Fair Trade fashion, how did you go about finding the material? And finding the suppliers? It took a year to find the suppliers. It's very difficult to start an ethical fashion brand, because you have to find certify fair trade and ecological suppliers. So I only worked with certified suppliers.
This is how I selected artisans and made sure that my guidelines were followed, using only certified providers under the World Fare Trade Organization.
What difficulties did you encounter?
The main difficulty is that there are not many suppliers that are certified, so you need to limit your creativity. For example, I knew that in India, artisans are great with wood and organic cotton, so I used that materials.
Other Important Facts to consider when working in FairTrade and Ethical Fashion.
There are also other sustainability issues in the fashion supply chain that you have to consider if you want to produce fairtrade/ethical fashion:
1- Cultivating the materials: I use organic cotton, bamboo, recycled polyester. Finding this, certified, is hard.
2- Manufacturing the materials: Using less water in production. I worked with companies that recycle the water when they print. Making sure the right processes are used, considering both the worker and the environment, is something important.
3- Consider shipping: When managing large quantities of product, consider the shipping infrastructure. For example: Its much more sustainable to use a boat as opposed to doing air shipments.
4- Waste: Obviously a very important factor.
What do you observe with the consumers of fashion? Do you see a growing interest in sustainable fashion? Can you speculate why or why not?
I see a growing interest in sustainable products, not only fashion. People are everyday more conscious about their responsibility as consumers. We have the power to choose what we buy. We can spend 10$ in a cheap dress made in a sweatshop and sold by a huge brand or 60$ in a dress that will contribute to develop communities and protect the environment.
As a consumer, how do you go about finding sustainable fashion? What questions should you ask when buying fashion? You can find many sustainable brands online or you can find some retail shops like Humus, Green LifeStyle in Barcelona.
In Barcelona we created "Associación de Moda Sostenible", which is an Association that promotes small Ethical Brands. Small brands need an umbrella to help promote each other. Like art, small brands are inspiring other big brands such as H&M or Mango, who are slowly jumping into this trend and doing a sustainable capsule collection. Unfortunately, it’s not enough because they are not solving the rest of their supply chain used for the rest of their collections.