It feels like in today’s sustainable goods market, we’re being flooded with buzzwords – natural, organic, fairtrade, and so on. All of these sound well and good, but we’re left wondering what they really mean, and if they’re truly making an impact when we shop.
We don’t want you to fall for the trendiest jargon in sustainable fashion marketing. We want you to understand what you’re being sold.
We’ve come up with three things to look for when deciding if a sustainable brand’s marketing scheme is up to par.
A company should be able to give you the numbers and data behind their actions. For example, if a brand says it’s helping to combat climate change, what solid evidence can it provide for this statement? Is part of its revenue going back to climate-related organizations and, if so, how much? Is it measuring how much carbon dioxide its manufacturing process emits? Companies should be able to back up their work with these numbers. If they aren’t marketing their numbers, think of reaching out for them. The more pressure they feel from you, the consumer, the more likely they are to disclose the real evidence behind their impact. Be sure to also read any fine print a company might be using to make its impact seem bigger than it really is. Sometimes claims, like those around energy-efficiency, are actually mandated by law already. This is probably one of the hardest things to point out if you’re not well-versed in environmental law, but it’s still important to note when deciding if a company’s green marketing is trustworthy.
Check if a sustainable fashion brand’s marketing is actually relevant to its work. If a company is marketing something that is not directly related to what it does or its product, this likely means it doesn’t have a real strategy in place and, therefore, is just trying to look good. For example, in the fashion industry, human rights and labor issues are a big deal. If a company solely focuses on green initiatives (such as the use of LED lights and recycling paper in its offices) and doesn’t mention how its workers are being treated, that’s an issue.
Today, it seems companies are in a kind of race to be as authentic and trustworthy as possible. In fact, 86% of people say authenticity matters when deciding what brands they like and support. If a company’s storytelling doesn’t feel genuine from the get-go, it likely isn’t. To gain this trust, companies should be transparent and, almost vulnerable, in terms of how they communicate. Remember that brands can’t be 100% sustainable, especially in the beginning. But if they’re making it seem this way, odds are they’re trying to fake it to the top, as if sustainability is a trendy goal and not a long-term, ever-improving movement.
Shopping sustainably can be hard, especially with so many sustainability terms and claims flying around. When looking at your favorite fashion brands, or new ones, remember these three ideas around marketing. We want you to feel as empowered as possible when deciding what clothes to buy. Ultimately, it’s simple: find brands that wear their hearts on their sleeves, so you can wear your beliefs on yours.