How entrepreneurs are challenging the fast-fashion mainstream

Sustainable clothing that doesn’t compromise on style.

With the world becoming increasingly more aware of our impact on the environment, a developing interest in where our clothes come from, how they’re made and what ethical considerations are taken into account is permeating the way we shop.

So how are the entrepreneurs of the future working to create a space for fashion that is well-made, ethically sourced and has a low environmental impact?

Entrepreneurs are taking a creative approach to funding new designs

Creative approaches to funding fashion

With brands such as Gustin, Everlane and Before the Label as well-established sources of up-and-coming products, a new generation of creatives and designers are sweeping the web and taking a creative approach to online retailing. Making space for greater transparency, high-quality production and better pricing than what the traditional, or ‘fast’ fashion industry may be able to offer.

Similarly, crowdfunded fashion typically works by a brand introducing a design to the market through crowdfunding platforms such as Indiegogo or Pozible. If the design gets enough backers, it’s sent for production and delivered to those who supported the project at a price that is lower than the market value.

So, the turnover may be slower than mainstream fashion sources, but the result is ultimately a high-quality product that hasn’t contributed excess waste. This is due to the prior knowledge of how many items needed to be produced during the crowdfunding process, making it a powerful customer insight tool. 

High-quality, eco-friendly materials

High-quality materials

In rejecting the fast fashion model of production, an emphasis on materials of high quality that will serve to last a long time is also indicative of a customer base that is shifting towards brands that can offer more sustainable clothing options.  

OFX spoke with sustainable fashion label Benjamin Siggers to get an insight into what drove the founders to create bespoke menswear that are not only meticulously crafted, but also eco-friendly. Benjamin Siggers invests in organic cottons to reduce the 20,000 litres of water that is typically used to produce only a kilogram of conventional cotton. The company also looks to sustain independent and artisanal tailoring by using manufacturers and suppliers that keep deeply-held traditions alive.

The production of high-quality products that are ‘bespoke’ or ‘custom-made’ also tend to fall within the crowd-funded model, whereby the customer can choose the style for themselves and have it made to suit their own personal needs. With this comes a greater emotional connection meaning the clothes will not only last longer, but their owner will be less likely to throw the items out.

Demand for sustainable and ethical fashion

Entrepreneurs of the future are working to create a space for fashion that is well-made, ethically sourced and has a low environmental impact.

Reducing waste by recycling clothes

Reduce, re-use, recycle

If luxury items aren’t for you (or your budget), a great way to avoid indulging in convenient fast fashion is by reducing the amount of clothing you own to a few, high-quality pieces, or recycling clothes by borrowing, swapping or selling. This can be done by strolling through second-hand markets, scrolling online for the next clothing-swap event near you, or even swapping and re-using clothes with friends and family. 

The growth of a market of ‘renting’ a product for a short amount of time is also a prominent development in this field. As a means of staying on trend without breaking the bank or polluting the environment with excessive textile waste, brands such as Mud Jeans, Your Closet, and Rent the Runway are a hit with consumers. 

Many companies are taking this on board in their business models, large mainstream companies like H&M and Zara have taken on eco-friendly campaigns to bust the fast-fashion grind. By swapping the clothes that consumers no longer want, we can provide an entire wardrobe for a fraction of the cost on the wallet and the environment.

The gig-economy has generated a growth in niche products

Niche products

With the development of the ‘gig economy’, brands now have the opportunity to produce niche products to meet a demand perhaps not previously known. Clothing brand Medelita was created after the owner spotted a gap in the market for medical wear and began selling high-quality and form-fitting lab coats and scrubs. Their stylish and refined medical uniforms appeals to health care professionals around the world. Looptworks in the U.S works to a mission-driven approach to designing one-of-a-kind backpacks out of scrap materials.

OFX customers Tails and the Unexpected also offer interesting or quirky items on top of their more traditional pieces, but this has always been a part of what sets the brand apart from the rest.

Offering a niche market means that the clothes invested in are just that, an investment. Meaning those who invest are more likely to keep these pieces for longer and reduce their personal impact on the fast-fashion mentality, which may very well result in a major shift in the approach to clothing production in the future.
For the fashion-forward population, sustainable clothing doesn’t necessarily mean the items can’t be stylish or on-trend. With a greater awareness of the way clothing is produced, the growth of a market of designers and creatives who work to actively combat unethical production has emerged. As such, a new wave of consumers who are interested in bespoke, well-made or artisanal items with a low environmental impact are the future market. 

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