Tips on Growing Your Sustainable Clothing Brand
What is Sustainable Fashion?
Sustainable fashion is a complex idea with multiple definitions. It is a general descriptor that comes with a lot of assumed meaning and responsibilities. In a nutshell, sustainable clothing is manufactured using responsible and eco-friendly practices at every production stage. This includes the farming stage, the manufacturing stage, and the marketing stage. This can even go as far as having the responsibility falling on the consumer to handle the piece of clothing until it is ethically disposed of. It comes down to making decisions that prioritize social and environmental stewardship.
Challenges that Sustainable Streetwear Brands Face
Making responsible choices when curating a sustainable streetwear brand is only half of the battle - understanding what certifications mean and what truly makes an environmental impact can be difficult. ‘Greenwashing’ is when brands pretend to be eco-friendly by throwing ambiguous words such as ‘organic’ and ‘sustainable’ as product descriptors without any valid or verified certification. In the wholesale apparel space, evaluating the quality of the blanks you are purchasing is essential. We understand this challenge; it can be difficult for streetwear brands to source sustainable wholesale clothing. The team at Vice + Virtue offers consulting and mentorship centered around sourcing a sustainable and ethical apparel supply chain. This, and a sustainable printing process that does not create excess waste, is an imperative initiative for streetwear brands. It is important to source from a transparent supply chain and share that transparency with their customers.
Tip #1: Get to Know Your Vendors
It is vital to research potential vendors and suppliers. Understanding a vendor’s supply chain not only helps you understand their product better but can leverage your brand’s communication with your end customer. A transparent supply chain means that real progress and change can be made because the vendor has a starting point for evaluation. Suppliers can often use different terminology to describe their products. Ethical t-shirt suppliers may use descriptors such as ‘sustainable blank t-shirts’/‘eco-friendly blank t-shirts'. If your supplier is honest and open with their customers, then odds are they are proud of their product and put a lot of effort into the production of their products. Understanding a supplier’s certifications and transparent supply chain will help inform the evaluation process for sustainable bulk t-shirts.
Tip #2: Develop Sustainable Printing Processes
There is also a lot to consider when looking for the right blanks supplier and screen-printer. Again, there are so many options and it becomes hard to decipher the difference between them. Everything from inks, adhesives, sourcing garments, waste, ordering, and packaging are all considerations when sourcing an eco-friendly screen printing business. Choosing a water-based ink is a preferred ethical option because it is bold, long-lasting, and easy to use. It will degrade at the pace of the cotton shirt used for the print because the base does not include plastic. Another thing to look for is if the printer uses a filtration system. Filtration systems are environmentally-friendly units that collect emulsion solids and ink by-products before they go down the drain. Many times these inks and chemicals are simply being washed down the drain and a filtration system helps collect and dispose of these particles properly instead of having them be incorrectly just flushed away. When looking for the right printer for your sustainable brand, it is imperative that you look into all of these different aspects of screen printing and nail down how to choose what practices are important to you. Once you have both the 100% organic cotton clothing wholesale supplier and truly sustainable printer nailed down you can market yourself very easily as an eco-friendly streetwear brand.
Tip #3: Switch to Sustainable Shipping and Packaging
Another aspect of your business that you can tailor to being sustainable is the packaging you use. There are many options, such as switching to recycled materials, biodegradable, or recyclable packaging. This is a guilt-free option and can encourage customers to come back. Original Favorites uses FSC-certified boxes which means our cartons can be recycled and we use individual bags that are made with recycled materials to preserve our products while they're being globally transported. Sustainable packaging is a physical way to show your customers your dedication to being environmentally friendly.
Tip #4: Offer Buybacks and Resale of Used Goods
A vital way to support sustainable causes is to incorporate circular fashion and educate customers on the longevity of a product. This means offering buyback programs or encouraging your customers to live out your products to the end of their life cycle. It is important that the fashion industry starts to encourage purchasing quality garments that last instead of quick and cheap garments that start to deteriorate immediately upon wear. This is crucial to the fashion industry becoming more sustainable. If the mindset in consumers switches to quality over quantity we could see a shift in companies prioritizing quality materials and construction instead of cheap and fast practices.
Starting with a Quality Blank
There is a lot of information, and a lot of decision-making necessary when trying to be a sustainable apparel company. Starting with high-quality and sustainable bulk sweatshirts is the first step to becoming an environmentally-friendly brand. In recent years, hoodies have become the base of most soft goods product lines- without using eco-friendly blank hoodies & sustainable blank hoodies, it can be difficult to build a sustainable foundation. Combined with the right printing process and packaging, a sustainable streetwear brand can be achievable.