Making a stand for menswearMarch 2015
In a bid to boost the growing desire of consumers to buy ethical goods, especially fashion, Brothers We Stand was set up by 25 year old International Development graduate Jonathan Mitchell. He was recently named one of 2degrees’ top 25 under 25 working in sustainable business.
How did you get into ethical fashion?
I’m really passionate about business and how it can positively impact on people and the planet. I want to maximize that impact.
I don’t have a background in fasion but I did an internship at a boutique in London’s Shoreditch so I saw the day to day side of online retail. I’d also started to notice menswear designers who were promoting a sustainable ethos and as I learned more about it, I became fascinated with the fashion industry.
Who inspires you?
Lots of the luxury brands – like Kering – are now taking sustainability very seriously. As is Nike. They’re pioneering the sustainable material index. The obvious example is Patagonia… We are working with smaller brands but who are also exploring new processes and materials. We work with brands in this conscious evolution in new ways of doing things. Its great seeing designers start to look at the impacts of a garment.
Are the big boys of the industry doing enough?
It’s encouraging to see big brands being some of the early adopters. They’ll get better as more and more consumers demand change. There’s still a long way to go though despite recent research saying that 45% of global consumers aspire to purchase sustainably. The fashion industry really needs to take a firm grip on its supply chain and all brands need to embrace that. They also have the ability to take things to scale.
Why choose the name Brothers We Stand?
I believe we are all brothers and sisters in humanity and this venture is about making a stand for ethical fashion. We are promoting the idea of common humanity. The sentiment towards ethical fashion has tangibly changed in the last couple of years. It has become something desirable and exciting and we want people to join in and be part of transforming an industry. This business is for Ruyna the seamstress in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Ali the cotton farmer from Tamil Nadu, India
What’s your USP?
We’re an online retailer but take a curator approach so it’s a really special collection. We offer good quality that’s better than the high street, at really accessible prices. We want to provide a window to the world on ethical fashion and we have a strict criteria to be included on the site. We currently have 14 designers who all combine well-designed, aesthetically pleasing, functional garments with an ethical stance. All the brands have to have something game changing about them. They could be progressive in their approach to working conditions in factories abroad or they could be working with novel new, sustainable fabrics.
Give some examples of your game changers.
Idioma t-shirts and sweatshirts use organic cotton made in a wind powered factory in India; ECOALF’s goal is to create the first generation of recycled products with the same quality, design and technical properties as the best non-recycled products to show that there is no need to use our world’s natural resources in a careless way. It makes jackets and bags out of recycled materials.
Elvis & Kresse make bags, belts and wallets from upcycled fire hose and military parachute silk. While Lily and Albert’s wool jumpers are hand knitted by small family based groups in Northern Portugal. It is a tradition rooted in the local culture and many of the cable patterns were originally developed to remember fishermen lost at sea.
But our products aren’t just worthy, they are curated, brilliant products. If people make brilliant products that are also sustainable, people will want them. A sustainability label will not put people off. Sustainability can be exciting and I want to excite people about what’s possible.
What’s your current goal?
Our vision is to grow consumer options, to offer great menswear, ethically made. We want to transform the fashion industry. It is possible!
What should we look out for?
We’re working with the London College of Fashion on an online fitting app for our website. Getting the right fit when buying clothes online has real environmental impacts (especially if you’re having to send items back).
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