While shoppers want access to sustainable clothing, the brands that boast a combination of both ethics and style often have smaller advertising budgets. Due to the hurdles to visibility that this can cause, these companies are sometimes hard to track down. Amongst the sea of other mainstream clothing designers, shoppers could easily miss out on ethically sourced apparel brands that align with their values.
Ethical Clothing, a Spain-based clothing search engine, is working to further tackle that issue with its recent addition of hundreds of North American clothing brands.
When looking at the research, it's clear the company is on to something with its technology. According to one study, nearly two-thirds of Americans are willing to pay more for sustainable products. The same survey found that 74 percent of shoppers don't know where to find those products. Additionally, the data uncovered that 78 percent of people are more likely to purchase a product clearly labeled as sustainable. With this information in mind, it's clear to see how the Ethical Clothing search engine could bridge the gap between company and consumer to benefit both.
The technology boasts the basic filters consumers expect from clothing websites, such as the price, product and material type. However, Ethical Clothing says it has additional filters in the works, such as a sustainability rating system.
“Our dream is for us to be able to ingest all the data the brands offer around their materials, processes and supply chains and provide our visitors with a scoring system that gives them the control as to how strict they want to be in their criteria for sustainable clothing,” said Ben Heinkel, Cofounder of Ethical Clothing, in a public statement.
Eco-friendly clothing brands continuously emerge throughout the United States and Canada. Through expansion, the team behind Ethical Clothing hopes to make a difference by helping some of these smaller ethically sourced apparel companies to gain further recognition. The company also aims to make product discovery a more seamless experience for shoppers.
Across the pond, Ethical Clothing says it has already enabled thousands of monthly customers in Europe to source stylish, budget-aligned clothing through the combination of its database of ethical brands and easy-to-navigate search options.
Prioritizing the desire to de-stigmatize the notion that sustainably sourced clothing is inherently expensive, Ethical Clothing also offers some additional tools, such as its price drop alert service. This feature enables those who sign up to stay in the loop about all offers offered by its entire catalog of brands.
While quick, sweeping changes in the fashion industry at large would be ideal - practicality has to be taken into account to avoid falling into the trap of "greenwashing." Slow, steady changes are likely the best way for mainstream clothing companies to build the foundations necessary for launching improved sustainable business practices.
Ethical Clothing joins other tech companies that seek to give consumers more background information about fashion brands. Good On You, for example, recently partnered with Klarna to roll out an app focused on sustainable clothing. Meanwhile, coalitions such as Rewiring Fashion are determined to shift consumer thinking away from the ideas that clothing is plentiful and disposable and reduce the waves of textiles flooding the market.
Initiatives such as this search engine could play an important role in emphasizing to larger companies that there is genuine consumer demand for ethically sourced apparel, and that it’s worth taking the time required to enter the ethically produced fashion space correctly.
It is an important matter to pursue not only to save face but also to stay relevant.
Image credit: Kayle Kaupanger via Unsplash