Photography by Tiff Tsang, words by Ellen Tirant
So you’ve been reading about the concept of Fashion Revolution, attended a few events, been directed to some useful resources and are keen to begin adjusting your purchasing behaviour. You might now be thinking, what next? How do you approach brands, what do you ask and how you do you know that you are being given solid, accurate information that you can trust? What does transparency actually mean, how do you sort through an abundance of information (or perhaps a lack of) and how do you utilize this information going forward?
All very valid questions and we completely empathise with the overwhelm, effort and endless investigation that comes hand in hand with the task of pushing brands to outlay their operational and workplace standards. We encourage you to keep at it, stick together and share your findings. Working together is key in this overall process, where collective action and pressure will play a part in pressuring larger brands to report accurately and potentially even begin cleaning up their act.
You can kick off your investigations with useful resources and how-to's from Fashion Revolution about approaching brands or you can check out resources such as Ethical Made Easy and Eco Warrior Princess, who speak directly with brands, getting an insight into what kind of information brands have already shared about what they do. Note- we recommend reading interview based research where the brand has actually taken part in presentation of information, rather than rating systems where brands aren’t often consulted or given ample opportunity to actively provide content that may not be publicly available.
As a brand in this conversation, we’d like to participate by not only remaining transparent to our consumers, but also leading by example. The concept of ‘transparency’ must become ‘normal’ within businesses of any type- it’s not an unheard of, radical or expensive concept. It’s honest, fair, sustainable and much more effective for business success and longevity.
Disclaimer - when we refer to transparency, we don’t mean the version where we brush the surface of our ‘commitment to ethical and sustainable sourcing’ and then focus on providing ‘insider information’ on new product releases and upcoming sales. In its truest form, all information is accessible, accurate and in-depth.
For us, it’s about being open and honest about our internal structure, our policies and procedures, our decision making process, our impact and how we intend to continually improve our operations to always be better for our team. We don’t shy away from our mistakes, we don’t hide or cover up anything - if we don’t straight up tell you about something that we tried and failed on, we will definitely offer honest answers to direct questions!
Transparency for us is also about acknowledging our ownership, and representing our company structure accurately. Oftentimes our company is perceived to be owned, run and pioneered by Hanna, our Australian co-founder, rather than as a joint and equal venture by both Hanna and Kunthear, our Cambodian co-founder. In fact, Kunthear is recognised as a leader in business in South East Asia, having recently been granted an award as a Social Entrepreneur from Women of the Future Awards South East Asia.
It’s important to us that every team member, whether a co-founder, a machinist or retail assistant, feel comfortable, supported and respected within their role. Our team are proud to work for a company that stands out against the ‘norm’ of the garment industry and feel honoured to work within a team of individuals that uplift, empower and strengthen one another. Showing up to work feeling respected is just as important as being paid fairly, and we do everything we can to make that happen. In honour of transparency, you can visit our workshop in Kampot, where you can see our team at work on the production floor!
Learn about the aspects of our business, through reading our website and blog, or contacting us. We’re open to questions, appreciate feedback, and strive to hold explorative and constructive conversations. We are still growing, and it takes time to reach goals and hit targets. It’s a slow process and we’re aware that we aren’t perfect. So please, share your thoughts with us and we will do everything we can to answer your questions and provide tangible evidence.
Get to know our processes by reading our From the Floor Series featuring more detail on the following aspects of our operations: