A few thoughts
It is great to read an honest opinion of someone involved in the industry, thanks for sharing it. The biggest problem I find with these “sustainable” or “ethical” brands is the lack of scientific arguments to back up why they are helping the environment or making things better for workers in different parts of the world. The use of organic cotton, for example is not a simple formula that makes production more eco-friendly, as organic farming is significantly more inefficient than traditional farming, to mention one case in which there are several sides to the story from a scientific point of view, yet brands expect to get more money to sell ugly but “organic” clothes because they are “better” for the environment. Very rarely do I get an explaination or quantifiable reason why they assume they are helping the environment. Another issue is the certifications; most of those organizations are paid to evaluate the client’s procedures, which generates a clear conflict of interest, but most importantly, you don’t need a certification to trade “fairly”. Simply give me some numbers on what are the average wages in the countries you are manufacturing and which wages you are paying and I will be able to evaluate how fair you are, yet I have found no data on this at all. Be transparent and open about the working conditions in your factories and have better control over your suppliers and operations and that will take care of itself.
Another issue with sustainable brands is the lack of honest motives. If you start a business it’s because you want to make money. Period. Yes, you might have a great heart and want to change some horrble things that happen in the fashion industry, but your decision to start a company is the desire to profit from a market in which you believe to have an opportunity. As business people, these brands should talk more like an investor and less as an opinion writer on the NYT. I have talked extensively about other issues such as design, marketing and aesthetics that I believe have made it hard for slow fashion to catch fire on Fashionhedge.com
I appreciate your efforts and wish you the best with your clothing line.