Triodos Bank’s Executive Board provides a perspective on the wider world it operates in, its impact and activity in 2017 and its prospects for the future.
What was the challenge for this project?
Making sustainable fashion visible and available to a broad public is, in short, the mission of entrepreneur Cécile Scheele, initiator of Goodbrandz. Goodbrandz was founded in 2011 and is a buyer and distributer of fashion produced in an environmentally-friendly way and under good labour conditions.
The company deliberately chooses not to sell the products in its own outlets. Instead sustainable trousers, suits, blouses and bags can now be found in some 400 regular fashion outlets all over The Netherlands, which gives Goodbrandz access to a broad public.
How is the approach of the project innovative?
Goodbrandz shows that sustainable fashion is a good and affordable alternative to ‘ordinary’ clothing. The prices of the labels affiliated with it are comparable to those of other fashion labels. If you buy an ordinary pair of jeans, you not only pay for the production costs of the item, but especially also for the label. This latter cost is far lower with Goodbrandz labels. So the clothes are sold at a competitive price while using sustainable production methods.
What impact does Triodos Bank have on this project?
Even in the fashion world, you have to spend money to make money. As a buyer and distributor of clothing, Goodbrandz buys fashion from sustainable producers. The collection has to be put together. And its stocks have to be stored temporarily to make sure it can provide an uninterrupted supply of clothes to the shops. All of which costs money. Only when the shopkeeper actually buys the goods does Goodbrandz get paid. Triodos Bank provides capital which the company uses to bridge the period between buying from the factories and selling to the shops.
What impact does the project have on the sector?
Each year, Goodbrandz organises the Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week, scheduled in 2017 from 6 to 15 October. Then the designers of sustainable fashion showcase their latest creations. The various activities and fashion shows during that week inspire the fashion sector to embrace positive change.
The company wants to show the public that there is a genuine alternative to regular fashion, which is key. Research by Goodbrandz shows that 68% of Dutch women would like to opt for sustainable fashion, but only 11% knows where to buy it.
What impact does the project have on society?
The fashion industry pollutes; for example, the sector uses a lot of chemicals. On top of that, the production of a vital raw material, such as cotton, requires a lot of water. Plus, the working conditions in studios and clothing factories in countries like India and Bangladesh are often very poor. There are regular instances of exploitation, child labour and long working days of up to 16 hours. Pay is often low and work unsafe.
The negative impact on the environment and people underlines the importance of sustainable fashion produced under honest and fair conditions.
How does the project share the vision of Triodos Bank?
When it comes to sustainability, the fashion sector lags behind the agricultural and food sector, for instance. The offer in organic and Fairtrade food has increased enormously in the last years. The same is not yet true for sustainable clothing.
Triodos Bank believes it is important to work together with an innovative business like Goodbrandz, which puts sustainable clothing firmly on the map. Goodbrandz is a pioneer in the fashion sector and an inspiration for positive change.