Working with Ethical Fashion Brands
One of the joys of running a small and independent agency is having some spare time to work with smaller, emerging clients in interesting fields. Especially as those smaller clients are often the ones who are making real change in the world, by pursuing missions that they’re passionate about, and setting up alternative business models that don’t require squeezing every penny of profit at the cost of purpose. I’ve had the privilege to help some exciting companies like this over the last year in the world of ethical and sustainable fashion - a world which is taking off seriously at the moment.
Over the last twelve months, things have taken off for ethical fashion. During London Fashion Week, the environment and ethics were brought up at every event I went to. Veja trainers had a bit of a Meghan-moment. Sportswear brands are using more recycled plastic than ever. And for new designers, it seems to me as though ethical/sustainable credentials are soon going to become “table stakes”. So it’s been interesting to help some new brands figure out how to cut through in a world of almost infinite content, and an ever-more crowded competitive landscape.
In thinking about how independent brands can make noise, I’ve had an idea recently about “story”. Storytelling is the hot word in marketing, which to the outsider (and to many in the industry) just sounds like bullshit. And in many cases it is. But at a time when the tide is turning against the unethical baggage of big business, fakery it all its forms (Instagram perfection-chasing, chatbots, Twitter bots) and fast products, story is going to become more important than ever. The visual difference between, for example, an H&M t-shirt and a premium one is, in many ways, becoming less and less, especially when you apply a filter to your selfie. And the big brands use branding and social in such a canny way that everyone wants to be #gifted by Nike or Supreme. AI will be able to design your fashion soon and you won’t be able to tell the difference. So why choose Real over Fake? Why choose Indie over Corporate?
Because the story of a product will become as important as the product itself. This is kind of a post-scarcity thought. Assuming a similar level of quality, in the past we made decisions based on our affection for a brand. But more and more, people are interested in provenance, working conditions, manufacturing process - the story of the product. And if independent, challenger fashion companies can find a way to communicate these stories in a compelling way that taps into the same creative strategies that the big players do so well - they’ll be in business.
Oh, and by the way, that’s where Studio Gomori comes in. Here are a few lovely clients that I’ve helped do some thinking around their brand and positioning (as well as some brand design and content creation). Call it brand consultancy if you like - but mainly, give me a call to talk about how I can help you.
ORIGIN - Brand design and photoshoot
Origin source beautiful handmade fabrics from villages in Africa - spanning Mali, The Gambia and Ethiopia. They put all of the profits back into humanitarian projects in the areas from which the fabric comes - and have a rigorous set of criteria for choosing sustainable and locally-led causes. And importantly for an initiative hoping to generate income for their projects, the products themselves are beautiful and unique.
We helped the founders with a new logo, a set of striking graphic symbols to form part of the visual identity, and a set of brand guidelines. We also ran a photoshoot producing some stunning images to showcase their collection.
See more here
OCEAN 5 - Digital outreach and brand consultancy
Ocean5 use ocean plastic to make the canvas on their energetic and bold trainers. They’ve used the equivalent of thousands of plastic bottles.
We helped them launch their pop-up store in Covent Garden, getting attention from influencers and magazines, and are helping with brand and content strategy.
THE COTTON STORY - Brand consultancy and strategy
Why shouldn’t premium and ethical t-shirts be accessible to the everyday shopper? The Cotton Story have created a transparent business model, using ethical and ecological manufacturing, which reveals the exact costs of getting the product from field to shelf. Fair at every step.
I ran a brand and marketing consultancy workshop for The Cotton Story, resulting in a brand book to help them with their positioning and creative strategy going forward.
LOWER PARK - Brand consultancy and strategy
Lower Park source beautiful, unique, handmade fabric from places as far afield as Nepal and South America. Their five-panel caps are vegan and ethically made in a family-led workshop.
I helped the European business with creative strategy and marketing planning in a brand workshop.
ALIVE - Branding and brand guidelines
Alive is an online vegan boutique, bringing together vegan products in one place for the ethical customer.
We helped them by consulting on their brand positioning, and then defined a new set of brand guidelines to help them express their purpose.