Photo by Lauren Fleischmann
Now that “fair trade clothing” is a buzzword in the fashion industry, it’s incumbent on fashion startups to take an eco-friendly approach to doing business. Whether you have a long-held commitment to the environment or you’re simply embracing fair trade apparel because it’s trendy, you’ll need to learn more about the best techniques for finding ethical manufacturers who can supply you with sustainable textiles and the ethically-produced raw materials you’ll use to make your fashions.
Use the Right Online Resources
As you select the right supplier for your new fashion company, you’ll improve your prospects immensely if you take proper advantage of the online resources that are available to you. For instance, Sewport CEO Boris Hodakel encourages you to use his platform, which brings together all of the world’s best clothing manufacturers to connect them with fashion brands.
Sewport isn’t the only platform of its kind on the internet, but it’s one of the most comprehensive and effective tools for selecting from among dozens of manufacturers who can provide you with ethically-sourced and organic fabrics that you can transform into dresses, hoodies, baby clothes, or whatever you want to sell. Before you pick a manufacturer, do everything you can to learn more about the company and how it fits in with your ideals.
If you aren’t familiar with some of the common terms that retailers and manufacturers use in the ethical fashion industry, a Google search is a great place to start down the rabbit hole or organic certifications and ethical farming practices. While you’re still in the research phase of your startup, take plenty of time to use the internet as a research tool that can make you better equipped for success when your launch date arrives.
Visit Trade Shows
Taking a look at textile manufacturers online is undeniably one of the best ways to find the manufacturer that’s absolutely perfect for your purposes. When you look for clothing manufacturers online, you unlock opportunities to connect with companies that you’d never encounter in the physical world since they’re based in distant countries. If you want to know exactly how a bolt of fabric looks under a particular type of light or how it feels, however, you might want to try going to a trade show.
Trade shows aren’t the same as they used to be. While sustainability hasn’t always been a major focus of fashion trade shows, eco-friendly fashions are in right now, and pretty much every fashion trade show in the world now has at least some representation by ethical clothing manufacturers who are looking for platforms to reach retailers and designers.
If you want to visit a trade show that focuses exclusively on ethical fashions, however, there are options out there. Ethical Fashion Source Expo, for instance, brings together the world’s best ethical manufacturers once per year to show off their latest fabrics. The only catch is that this trade show is online-only; it doesn’t impart the benefits of a physical show.
On the other hand, Neonyt in Berlin is a bonafide brick-and-mortar trade show that displays eco-friendly fabrics to designers from all over the world. The notoriously progressive city of San Francisco also puts on an annual Sustainable Fashion Week event that’s frequented by ethical fashion novices and experts who want to network, have fun, and learn more about the latest developments in the sustainable fashion industry.
In short, there are plenty of places that you can go to learn more about sustainable fabrics firsthand and meet some of your competitors (or potential collaborators) in the industry. Even if you prefer the ease and expanded selection of sourcing your fabric through a platform like Sewport, it still might be a good idea to go to fashion trade shows just for the social aspects of these events.
Check the Details
Since eco-friendly fashion is so popular these days, plenty of manufacturers are trying to jump on the bandwagon who have no right being there. Seeing “eco-friendly” or “organic” in a product description isn’t enough to ensure that a fabric is safe for your customers and the environment.
You’ll need to dig deeper to find the details necessary for making the right decision.If you want to make sure that the fabric you buy is organic, for instance, keep an eye out for Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification. To ensure that farmers and textile workers were properly compensated for your work, World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) certification is also a must.