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Why good intentions can have great results

Drapers explores the rising interest in brands that are trying to change the world.

Selfish mother x save the children david gandy

Selfish Mother x Save The Children

Selfish Mother has teamed up with Save the Children for a Christmas collection designed by celebrities including David Gandy 

Picture: Greg Williams 

When Blake Mycoskie launched footwear brand Toms in 2006, he brought an ethical ”one-for-one” business model to consumers’ attention for the first time. Ten years on, Toms – which has to date donated 60 million shoes to children around the world – is still one of the world’s best-known ethical fashion brands and has paved the way for a growing number of entrepreneurs to launch fashion ranges that promise to do some good. Clothing and footwear brand Gandys, for example, donates 10% of its profits to charity and has rapidly opened four stores throughout 2016. 

Although a recent report from Morgan Stanley found ethical concerns do not dominate shopping decisions (price and quality are still the biggest concerns), they have become significantly more important since 2010. The Rana Plaza disaster in 2013 and the BBC Panorama exposé on the use of refugee children in some Turkish clothing factories have made brands with a conscience more attractive to consumers.

“There’s been a wake-up call for consumers and the industry that fast fashion comes at a price, so consumers are increasingly looking for brands that give something back,” argues former BBC journalist Rebecca Fordham, who launched sleepwear brand Tales of Thread in May this year. Tales of Thread is made in factories owned by women in Ghana, and the predominately female workforce receives wages above the market rate for work in safe conditions.

More people are searching for ‘ethical fashion’ before landing on our site

Alicia Taylor, founder, etailer Gather & See

Alicia Taylor, founder of online sustainable fashion store Gather & See, agrees that fashion brands with a positive message are increasingly popular with consumers: “We can see from our analytics that more people are searching for ‘ethical fashion’ before landing on our site. There’s been a definite shift towards people buying quantity over quality and recognising it can be beneficial to buy better but less.”

One business taking inspiration from Mycoskie is the #GoodTees initiative from Selfish Mother, a clothing brand founded by blogger Molly Gunn. The T-shirt and jumper label donates £10 from men’s and women’s wear sales and £5 from sales of kidswear to a host of different charities, including the charity Kids and the Refugee Council. As well as raising £290,000 for its partners, #GoodTees has attracted a string of high-profile fans and is now stocked by John Lewis.

If people are interested in giving, why shouldn’t that be through your brand?

Molly Gunn, founder, Selfish Mother

Attractive products with a simple message have been the secret of the brand’s success, Gunn tells Drapers: “Our first item was a T-shirt with the word ‘mother’ printed on it, which resonated with people who were mothers, particularly because donations from that particular tee were going to [charity] Women for Women International. It encouraged people to share pictures of themselves wearing our products, which has been instrumental to our success.”

She adds: “The fact the brand has a conscience meant big retailers like John Lewis were interested in us. It’s a smart business decision – if people are interested in giving, why shouldn’t that be through your brand?”

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