New Threads: Slow Fashion Panel with By Rotation and Mayamiko – Part 2

Podcast & Transcript

This is a recording of part two of the New Threads: Slow Fashion Panel Discussion with Eshita Kabra-Davies and Paola Masperi. This event took place at ONCA gallery on the 22nd of November 2019.

Transcript

Voice over: This is a recording of part two of the New Threads: Slow Fashion Panel Discussion with Eshita Kabra-Davies and Paola Masperi. This event took place at ONCA gallery on the 22nd of November 2019.

 

Susuana: Okay so first question: What is your definition of ‘slow fashion’?

 

Paola: So, I mean slow obviously talks to the pace of fashion and construction, so obviously it’s about thinking more about what we want and love rather than responding to concentrate our… But I think I always struggle with words like slow and ethical and sustainable because they kind of mean so many different things to different people. I think I am now gravitating towards the word responsible. I kind of like that, I think it’s a bit more kind of all encompassing and sort of means a bit more to me that I think sort of, we all kind of try to say the same thing by using different words and it’s kind of that whole mindful approach to consuming fashion.

 

Eshita: I would agree, I would just say a more considered approach to consuming, what I’m consuming ‘cos as I mentioned I used to be a shopaholic and now I’m sort of thinking more about what it is that I really do need and most of the times I don’t really need anything new anyway. So it’s really, practically speaking it’s very much about not buying anything new. So I’ve been doing things like, you know we’ve had Secondhand September obviously, and I get this thing which I set up called Something Borrowed October, only one other person did it with me but you know I don’t care I’m just gonna go, I’m gonna put my money where my mouth is. So um, yeah it’s just kind of using what I have and borrowed from people from the app.

 

Susuana: Awesome, okay second question. Fashion shows play an important role in fast fashion, in terms of showcasing diverse designs that will set trends, do you think that there’s a future for sustainable fashion shows or do you think the runway to store pipeline is incompatible with the sustainable fashion industry?

 

Paola: Hm, this is a difficult one. Um so I’m Italian, I grew up in Italy and I remember waiting religiously waiting for the cat walks to happen because you’re sort of looking at your favourite designers but then what happened after the catwalk is when you found something that you liked and either you go get some fabric and go to your grandma and get her to make it for you or you’d sort of find something in the shops, 3, 4, 5 months later and religiously go and adore that window and save up all your money, and just buy the one piece that you treasure and love forever. Catwalks intrinsically aren’t bad, it’s a way to showcase creativity, talent. Think about someone like Vivienne Westwood, she put out such powerful messages on catwalks that are really nothing to do with selling clothes. That you know she used to do a presentation the day after to buyers to sell different clothes to what she put on the catwalk. Also you know I think they have a place in society to deliver a message but I do think the way that they are done now, doesn’t really resonate with the direction that we as a world want to go because it’s all around the speed and the volume and kind of creating something always out of style because something new is always coming and so I think in that sense they are no longer relevant and we need to rethink them but you can’t really ‘destroy all catwalks’ attitude.

 

Eshita: I actually never really watched any catwalks or even read a fashion magazine until actually until very recently I had to because of what we’re doing which is in the fashion technology industry. I would say I know there’s been a lot of talk of designers offsetting their carbon emissions from doing runways and I know there was, like, Gabriela Hearst and maybe another big player, and I also know there’s been talks how do you say y’know using like clothing where you project different pattern and lighting, I can’t remember the name of the company but I think that could be really cool actually for a runway, so like a more, like a different approach and a different sort of style of fashion. I think there are a lot of different kinds of fashion shows that could happen in that sense. I know that there are also, um, we’re going to be speaking to the LFC in London where they’re doing like a catwalk, doing like a conscious catwalk, where they want to get pieces that are second hand or vintage um and I guess that could be interesting as well rather than y’know showing that you can still be fashionable or on trend but by using things that already exist.

 

Susuana: Right thank you. So staying on fashion shows and fashion trends: fashion week events recently have become popular sites for protesting about the negative environmental impact of fast fashion. Do you think these kinds of interventions are necessary or useful for engaging people in the fashion industry on environmental justice issues?

 

Paola: Hm, so I think we, so a lot of us will have heard around, um Extinction Rebellion and the funeral procession at this stage, so fashion week and the boycott fashion movement. Obviously as a brand that makes fashion, sells fashion, it almost feels like being hypocritical sort of saying yeah I’m a hundred percent with that attitude but I do think they have a massive role to play in terms of raising consciousness and advocating and getting people to be aware of the problem. I’m more of a partnership and collaboration type approach to… Just as a person that’s how I do things in general, and I think it’s interesting because quite a lot of the brands that show at London fashion week or the more interesting sustainable brands are then calling to that same sort of you know, label and saying kind of like, you know, brands that, or fashion that goes out of fashion, ‘fashion week is bad’ and so that’s a bit sort of shooting yourself in the foot because that’s where quite a lot of the innovation and the fresh thinking comes from. And so I think it’s a really difficult balance and you know we are just gonna have to keep doing both so, doing the sort of making your voice heard to protesting and, you know, stopping it then in their tracks, making people think about what it is they are actually buying too, but also rather than kind of cancelling, thinking about a different, better way of doing it.

 

Eshita: Yeah, now I think a lot of my friends’ circle is not involved in the fashion industry at all and they’re not so much in the sustainability side of things either, and I think they became more and more aware of you know how things need to change in fashion and how things are changing as well. So I think it definitely helps it get more mainstream, you know um mainstream awareness.

 

Susuana: Thank you. So next question, There’s an increasing number of fashion companies who have started to use labels like eco or sustainable fashion because they use sustainable materials. However, when it comes to other parts of their operation such as their supply chain or packaging, they are not so ethical or sustainable. How do you feel about this trend?

 

Paola: So my first gut reaction when I hear about a new capsule that is sustainable and eco friendly, it’s like okay that is 0.5% of your production so are you actually telling me or kind of admitting to the fact that 95.5% is actually not sustainable. So I always think it’s a bit of a cop out and I think how shady are you? You know it’s sort of, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the maths right, you know five products in your range are sustainable and I’m talking about, more about the rest so I’m always a little bit like, ‘hmm okay’. But I do think they are a reflection of the fact that large brands are starting to listen and you know you don’t want to second guess the morality and the reasons for doing this but obviously a lot of brands are doing it responding to consumer trends so you know we’ve all heard about the Millennials and the Gen Z’s that want to buy more ethically and therefore let’s give them what they want so that they can keep buying while feeling like it’s aligning with their values. So I think Millennials and Gen Z’s are a lot smarter than that and they kind of, you know, realise that the marketing spiel’s there, but I do think it’s important that large brands are starting to think about these things. And the second point is that, so maybe up until twenty four years ago people were saying “I need more ethical brands or sustainable brands” and by that they meant “I’m focusing on the people impact not I’m focusing on the environmental impact” and I think that doesn’t really work, you can’t have climate justice without social justice, you know, you can’t separate them out. And so it’s hard but you have to look at them as one thing, and so I don’t think anyone gets a huge amount of comfort by knowing that you’re using recycled polyester but you are making your clothes in sweatshops; I think consumers are smarter than that – and so although it’s a tiny baby step in the right direction I think, you know, people will look through that quite easily.

 

Eshita: I just, I generally – again – where mainstream is my point of view, I just think it’s good that at least a dialogue has been started and I know it’s not in the best interest but for everyone else at least we’re talking more about it and that’s the beginning of something ‘cos it’s kind of hard for smaller brands to, you know, be the only ones who are trying very hard to fight it, so I know we are all thinking about H&M but you know, I obviously don’t agree with what the CEO has said recently but I do think that it’s, I think that them running a big conscious campaign helps sort of talk about the other companies that are doing it actually properly.

 

Audience Member: What did the CEO say?

 

Eshita: Oh so he was saying sort of, oh you’re essentially the people… if you took away fast fashion it would be bad for the people who are employed, so it actually affects everyone else if you stop fast fashion all together, and that’s taking away jobs.

 

Audience member: So it’s important that you keep buying fast fashion? (laughs)

 

Eshita: Yeah.

 

Paola: Well I think this is the core thing isn’t it, we’re not, you’re sort of tinkering on the edges of what you can do within a capitalist system that really demands choice, creates more wealth faster and so you know, as long as we keep thinking in those terms you know we can only have really incremental changes, to have the massive step change you kind of need to step out of that very simplistic mindset but how realistic is that? I don’t know, but we are certainly trying.

 

Susuana: In a similar way, talking about mainstream fashion companies – what change would you think they can make, or implement to become more ethical and sustainable in an effective way? Rather than, sort of projected.

 

Paola: It’s an interesting one, I think regulation has got an important role to play because when we are moving those massive changes and you’re relying on smaller brands or outsiders if you like to sort of shift the need, that can take a long time and that’s where I think regulation can really accelerate and impose change that, you know it might feel painful to begin with but actually they then bring a longer term and faster, bigger scale outcomes. So I think if regulation came in, and obviously that’s why it was so hugely disappointing when the government rejected all the recommendations from the commission that researched the impact of fast fashion back in June… It’s um, you know, I think the government said this is what you have to do, you’re a company, you are responsible for, you know, your current impact, the wellbeing of your people, not just in your (what they call) first tier supply chain, which is the first company that you get in touch with – but there’s then all the other ones that you kind of like wash your hands of because you don’t really, you know, report on them in your financial statement sort of thing. So I think regulation has got a really important role to play and I think now with the election coming, you know, choices really matter.

 

Eshita: I think for me again on the consumption side, I really like the idea of the QR code and that for every single different product, I think that’s actually really interesting because a lot of people talk about how they don’t actually know how their clothes are made, not just who made them, but where actually are they made? I know it says sometimes that things are made in France but actually they’re not, they’re made in Asia a lot of times. So I think that actually, you know, maybe would help get the consumer more aware of what they’re actually buying. And I think there was this other thing that we spoke about on another panel, about how we – and this isn’t about fashion only – but you about how cigarette packs have a warning, you know, like what if you did that?

 

Paola: But it’s an interesting one because I think you think about some advice compared to like food, we somehow have some sort of awareness there, you know, you wouldn’t eat an apple with skin-on that has been sprayed with chemicals ‘cos you know it’s disrespect to the body, but equally we don’t seem to have the same awareness about what we put against our skin that is kind of like the biggest organ in our bodies. So there is sort of, like, cognitive dissonance there.

 

Eshita: Well actually there was some e-tailor, I dunno if it, again, if it was Pretty Little Thing or Missguided, that said about some, how like the, some of their clothing has some chemicals that could cause like abnormal pregnancies, or something, so I… so yeah I think some are doing that but I think it’s also very shocking.

 

Susuana: I think to the extent they said you weren’t supposed to properly wear it, like you were supposed to just buy it and take a picture with it, so that was like a warning? (laughs)

 

Audience member: …Well I never think about chemicals on my clothes, sorry, that’s just freaked me out a bit.

 

Paola: I mean it helps, I mean the more natural fibres you wear the less likely it is that it will be full of chemicals but I think cotton gets sprayed like there is no tomorrow, like conventional cotton so, um, and you know polyester and other man-made materials.

 

Audience member: So you should wash everything before you wear it?

 

Paola: Yeah… I mean there’s a level … but I think here we are talking about crop chemicals.

 

Audience member: Do you wash your things before you wear them?

 

Susuana: I do sometimes ‘cos I’ve got really sensitive skin! So… that’s why.

 

Audience member: The thing is though, I’ve never thought of doing that when I buy new clothes!

 

Eshita: I don’t, so…(laughs)

 

Susuana: You know… moving on. Okay so, How do you think attitudes towards fast fashion would change if all fashion brands were, had to be transparent about their supply change and environmental impact?

 

Paola: Well, I mean, I choose to believe that ethics and environmental concerns about fashion will be at some point the new norm; I mean if you think about it, a hundred years ago you went into a factory and there was no sanitation and people were not wearing helmets if they were doing something dangerous, it would.. and so you know eventually the workers striking and the governments stepping in and so now suddenly you walk into a factory and it’s the new norm, like you don’t even think about it people are wearing safety clothing and whatever. And so it’s sort of like a, it’s one of those big system changes that happen but they take time and they can be accelerated by things like new regulation and consumer demands and that kind of stuff. So I choose to believe that in my lifetime that will be the new way of doing fashion but I think it takes a massive amount of consumer pressure and regulations and companies working together and it kind of goes back to that point around capitalism, if we still only look at the shareholders’ kind of, you know, point of view, then these things are not gonna move as fast as we need them to move, so it’s a sort of kind of activism which we are starting to see. I’m feeling quite hopeful.

 

Eshita: Yeah I totally agree with that.

 

Susuana: You can go first next time. So, what do you think can be done to make people who invest more aware of exploitative labor issues associated with fast fashion?

 

Eshita: Well it’s not actually not really completely agreeing with what you’re doing but I suppose we’re often asked who are our competitors? Or I say ‘peers’, and I genuinely think it’s the highstreet retailers and the way that we are doing that is sort of convincing people to think more about, before they go and buy yet another cheap purchase, you know, whether it’s e-tailers or highstreet stores, um think about whether you really need it, and also where it actually was made, and obviously you know there is a lot of light coming onto things like the one pound bikini, I can’t remember which retailer it was, yeah Missguided, to empower women to just sort of question people and think about, you know, maybe investing more in quality when you do actually need to buy something, and when you just want something for a whim, you know, rent it instead. Um, but yeah so I think that’s how we can move away from, you know, the power that we’ve given to the fast fashion companies and bring it to just sort of you know…

 

Susuana: …To make different choices.

 

Eshita: Yeah to make different choices and choices that are actually better, you know, quality wise, and that’s also actually supporting smaller brands that are doing the right things and better things and giving back to the communities as well that create those products not just, you know, some guy in Manchester or whatever.

 

Paola: Yeah, I mean, I completely agree with that connecting with the clothes in a way that maybe we used to do twenty to thirty years ago when we didn’t have so many of them, it’s really important. I guess, I mean, I kind of think romantically about clothing and I think that’s from growing up in Italy and being the last one of lots of cousins and siblings I had lots of hand-me-downs and that kind of stuff, and I’ve got so many lovely memories, you know, because clothing is so a part of who we are; I see something, like, at my mum’s house and it reminds me of those moments and I think we have sort of lost that emotional connection with the clothing and the memories that you make when you wear them. So I think really going back to that and the sort of culture around “you can’t be seen wearing the same thing twice” – I mean, seriously. You know, it’s very true nowadays but it, oh I sound like an old lady now, but it, maybe it’s our culture but even like my nieces and nephews in Italy who are like thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, kinda like they had a favorite t-shirt and that’s their favorite t-shirt and they’ll wear it forever and when they’re done wearing it they just keep it because, I reckon, you know, that when they are in their twenties they will dig it out again and, you know, it’ll have a new lease of life. So I think connecting with the clothing and remembering that, you know, what they mean to us is important. Again also the makers, it’s weird to me watching tv adverts that are for, you know, for food products, that five out of, you know, seven upwards, you see the farmworker has grown that crop, right? Or the fisherman who fished that fish or whatever the butcher or, you know, whatever your belief is about food, but, you know, you see the person behind the food. You’re never able to see that about fashion because it would be really exposing, quite ugly truths and so we, I think we just, for me it’s really odd how a sort of fairly basic need like clothing itself is treated very differently from the other sort of basic needs; it’s an interesting one in our society and I think the minute you can show the behind the scenes proudly, that’s when you’ve really managed to move the conversation in the right direction.

 

Eshita: It’s funny because everyone has got organic, you know, clean eating and all that.

 

Paola: Yeah and beauty and all kinds of things, yeah.

 

Eshita: And now it’s kind of slowly trickled down to, yeah..

 

Susuana: Thank you. So another one on consumption – what do you think are the biggest barriers for consumers switching from fast to slow fashion?

 

Eshita: Definitely the price point, I feel, I mean, as a student definitely you know the kind of, you know, if you want a new look you go to New Look, right? Sorry I had to say that it was in front of me, so… (laughs). Um, and yeah, and it was very cost effective, and I think price has always been something that excludes a lot of people. You know how like a lot of times they say, like in order to do charity you have to be someone who’s already made it ‘cos, you know, that’s for people who have kinda made it already and they have that as extra. And I feel like sustainable fashion brands often can be quite expensive as well and therefore their prices cost is quite inhibiting. And therefore you know you’ve got a lot of people doing vintage and second hand and that sort of thing which is all great, and I think that’s why we kinda started By Rotation as well, which enables you to rent from each others’ wardrobes, you know, a more cost effective approach; and, you know, I will completely admit and agree right now that I did, for me, I did do it because of a pragmatic approach. Only when I was in India on my honeymoon was when I realised that I was contributing to the problem. When I was visiting my motherland and seeing pigs on the street eat textile waste. So for me it came from a very practical approach, wanting a new look for cheaper, to something that was actually contributing to a big waste problem. So, price point definitely.

 

Paola: No I agree, I think price inclusivity is a big topic in sustainable fashion, I mean we are, we’ve really tried hard to keep our prices inclusive and affordable, I mean, you know, for obvious reasons you can never really be, you know, the same level as the high street because of obvious reasons, you know, scale and mass, and often people are choosing supply chains but we sort of try to maintain the price that we feel is inclusive, so I completely agree on price. I think the thing also is the other thing around is design and product, and I think the landscape has changed massively, even in the last five or six years when you kind of had those horrible corduroy or I dunno, like ugly hemp clothing that was, that was the association with sustainable fashion. Like that kind of hippy dippy type people, and then we had the other end of the super bespoke, like super luxury and that felt so unattainable that you can’t really relate to it. So those problems were there for me then, but I feel like there is also sort of, we’ve come quite a long way and there’s good availability now out of products that I think probably have been, I mean I think your concept is fantastic.

 

Eshita: Ah, do you think so?!

 

Paola: Yeah, I mean, no, I’m convinced that…

 

Eshita: I mean ‘cos, you know, even things like Reformation, which I guess some of you might be familiar with, they started, they just opened – they started in London, dresses there are still like £200 … Reformation? It’s like, completely sustainable, whatever they make they claim apparently that the first option to be completely sustainable is to be naked and they’re number two. That’s their tag-line.

 

Susuana: That’s very Garden of Eden.

 

Eshita: It’s a pretty bold statement, I mean I think they’ve done this for about ten years and the clothes are still £200, so this is not cheap and you can rent it for fifteen, I’m just saying. Sorry.

 

Susuana: Excellent. Great, um, so, fast fashion companies are usually targeted at younger audiences, what do you think can get more younger people engaged in sustainable fashion issues?

 

Paola: I think it’s a question for the audience.

 

Eshita: For me as I mentioned, I’m really into building community and that’s how we want to build By Rotation as well, you know grass roots, and I know that Depop is actually doing stuff on the campus as well and they’re really good when it comes to promoting sustainability so I think for me it’s to include communities of, well actually all ages to be honest, obviously the younger generation probably cares more and is definitely more open to sharing than maybe the older generation, um so yeah that’s the focus for us – to include the community and make them part of our concept.

 

Paola: No, I agree – I think community is really important because you’re buying into a concept, you’re not just buying products, you’re buying whatever that brand or that app stands for, and so, and then you’ll find kindred spirits that you can connect with on whatever level you might want to. By association or like kind of a genuine real connection, if you meet up and swap clothes, so that’s a… yeah I also think, kind of, intergenerational process.. I can’t think of the right word for it but other generations working together is really important. And for example what we find that a lot of mums come to our website and buy for their kind of daughters in their late teens and early twenties is because they know that that’s what their daughters want, and they’ve sort of gone out and done some research and found, you know, that brand resonates with what my daughter wants, and so I think, you know, there’s a real opportunity to kind of, for generations to support each other and really help each other on that same path.

 

Susuana: So, that’s it, that’s going to be my final question, so if somebody was thinking about setting up a new sustainable fashion company what pieces of advice would you give them?

 

Eshita: One is definitely probably like do you really need to make something new? Does it not already exist out there? Cause I definitely feel like, and again I think it’s really good we are saying different things but I think that there are a lot of sustainable brands out there, so there needs to be, and this is, again, even as, like, a business perspective, there needs to be a differentiating, you need sort of, yeah, a selling point, like a factor that differentiates you. Um, that’s my first.

 

Paola: Yeah, no I agree, the um, the sort of ‘do you really need the new brand?’, I mean I guess I’m hypocritical but I ask that question to myself like kind of daily, like should you be doing this or should you be doing other things, so, um, so I think that’s an important one; and I also think fashion, moving away from the product, fashion is a cultural thing and it’s a thing of creativity and, you know, if you think about messages on t-shirts then they have changed the world in many ways you know, they are a way of expressing ourselves, so I don’t feel like I wanna say to people ‘don’t do it’ because I think aside from the commercial success of how much you sell it’s a really important way to communicate and express yourself and communicate messages. But I think there’s definitely, you know, the kind of old school way of designing a collection getting the factory to make it, wait, sorry – done your collection, showing it to buyers, not really knowing what the buyers want, getting a factory to make it, overproduce it, having to mark it down, have lots of waste, have to burn it – I think that’s gone, I think it’s a big bye-bye, yeah I would really stay away from that. You know, I would be creative around the business models and the way you work.

 

Eshita: Actually there was something that came up in your presentation about getting certification, so, um, I’m quite cynical on that as well, and we recently were awarded the Brand Mark, um, which is sort of the thing that EcoAge gives out, and I’m still quite cynical about it.. but it almost seems like something that you have to do to get credibility, and it’s just one of those things where it’s… well, this whole media thing can be a bit frustrating. That’s one, it’s not advice, it’s just a heads up I guess.

 

Paola: It’s a difficult one because from a consumer point of view when you see the Fairtrade logo on a piece of chocolate or on coffee or whatever or the Rainforest Alliance, it sort of gives you that instant sense of confidence that there is something positive and good about this product, and I think in some ways it’s kind of the same thing around fashion products: if you have the organic, got certified cotton logo or the fairtrade mark it sort of gives you… You know, not everyone has got time and energy that they have to research every single brand, the resources to research every single product that they buy, so I think that we just need to be realistic about it. So the certification has a role to play, but like all things in fashion it’s more complex than it looks on the surface, because with every material that is certified, you know, famously the t-shirts that have sold for three or four pounds that are made of organic cotton, and you sort of think okay these are made with organic cotton, but then where else did you save it to get it down to that price? So I think fashion is difficult because the supply chains are so fragmented that you could have one bit of the supply chain that is really good but it doesn’t mean that the whole thing is necessarily really good. So it’s quite complicated. But I agree with certifications…

 

Eshita: And I suppose that the last thing is this other thing that I heard in another talk about echo chambers where – everyone here obviously cares about slow and sustainable fashion – but, um, I’m telling you from my circle of friends that not many people actually know what’s going on, they don’t really talk about this, you know, on Monday night – forget Friday night, that’s not gonna happen. So, you know, if you do end up doing something in sustainable fashion, try and include the mainstream audience because they’re the ones that you kind of need to change quite quickly, ‘cos you guys are already convinced, so

 

Paola: I really agree, I think there’s definitely a problem in the sort of so called sustainable fashion circles where you kind of talk to the bubble, and the bubble is always sold or, you know, and so it’s actually finding ways and I think there’s a problem, you know, it can feel quite, I don’t know,
judgy and you know, “I am wearing simple clothing and eating simple food, what are you doing about it?” So there’s a lot but I think that if you sort of, you know, this is kind of like judgy approach isn’t gonna really help anyone because you want to bring people in and
Until you need to find ways to be inclusive and making people curious and interested and maybe they are drawn by the look or the design of something and then they get to find out how it’s made. or you know, maybe they see you wearing all these fabulous outfits and then they find out that actually got them by renting them so, so I think it’s sort of really important if you think about a journey, that direction that you get out of the bubble. And so the way that you talk to your consumers and your audiences because, yeah, bubbles burst and we don’t want that, we want a bigger circle that includes everyone.

 

Susuana: Thank you. So now we’re gonna move onto a question from the audience. I will try my best to read them, I don’t have my glasses. So how – this is about the app specifically – How do you organise money on the app?

 

Audience member: Do people pay a subscription fee?

 

Eshita: No Oh, sorry, I should have said a little more about the business. It’s completely free. There’s no subscription fee, there’s no waiting list. We’re very much, we’re very into the inclusivity part of the part of the piece. We want to make sure that everyone can just download it, whether it’s on their Android or their Apple iPhone. So it’s available on both Google Play and also at the App Store. And yeah, I mean, as for how people get paid, it’s free. Completely free. So I said why we’re like Airbnb is that we only take a commission when you do a transaction. So we take from the vendor, but that’s only when a transaction happens. So you could pretty much list your entire wardrobe andt won’t cost you anything besides your time.

 

Susuana: OK. So how affordable are these things? Are they able to reach a broad audience including poor people. So I guess that pertains to the things on your app, and also your collection.

 

Paola: I mean, I suppose affordability is relative, you know, what’s affordable to some isn’t to others so I kind of can’t say it’s affordable, because that would be something that’s a bit – I think we work quite hard to make sure that the price point is, is inclusive and, you know, attainable. And actually, if you think about an alternative piece of clothing, if you buy a £20 dress and the average in the UK is that you wear it probably three times and then you chuck it, you know, what about if you spend £60 on something that lasts you three years, you know. Like if you look at it, map it out that way, then you it makes a lot sense But actually it would be interesting to see, one of the things we’ve been toying with is introducing something like Klarna or something else that allows you to split up payment. Now why I hesitated is because I don’t want to create that false sense that you can buy things that you don’t really need. You know, it it feels to me sometimes like, you know – I know as a brand that could be marketing suicide because we could sell more and make more money – but I’m not quite sure that that’s the kind of behavior that I want to encourage. But at the same time, I think if you really see something that you love, and you want it, why shouldn’t you be able to split up your payments? But I actually am really torn with that. I don’t know what you guys think.

 

Susuana: I feel like we have a similar situation in the arts sector with selling art, cos you want people to be able to have art, but you know that some people can’t afford it, so there is the option where quite a few places do, like you can do it in instalments. That still feels a bit weird. Like that person budgeted around getting that art piece. They’re still straining themself

 

Paola: Yeah, yeah, that’s interesting that it’s a common problem. As well things are valuable and expensive. What do you guys think? When would you – if you you know when you see that the Klarna payment available it could split payment does that make you did you sort of feel more better some impulse of buying more than you read or do you actually actually know will love this and I’m quite, quite happy that I can, you know break it up in a few months, because I you know the level that the budget right now? What do you guys think is good that you can do?

 

Audience member: I think it is good that you can do it slowly I guess because it’s reducing the ‘I need it nowSo yes, because the fastball serves us to the meeting about as well so we can happen and we have for a long time. Yeah.

 

Susuana: how people price things

 

Eshita: Yeah, you can price it however you want. We’ve got to use a term which is three to 5% per day, which is actually really cheap. Because, you know, as I mentioned, you can get like a reformation dress which selling dresses for like £200 pounds+ for £15 pounds for a weekend. And I think that really competes with H&M and Zara, I think at Zara when you buy a dress, that’s like £40 – 50, a lot of people are wearing it maybe twice or thrice in their lifetimes. Also, you have that problem where if you walk on the street, it’s definitely gonna be someone else’s dress. And it’s also very poor quality anyway, so our whole thing is to get people to rent quality clothing. So there’s definitely like some labels that we don’t allow on the app, such as high street brands. We do a lot of vintage, I’m going to get a photo of that later. We really promote user-generated photography because, one, it complies with copyright law because I don’t want to take it from Mayamiko’s website and plant it to my own. And also, it’s a community feeling to it. It’s kind of like Depop again. I actually really liked that because you see the fit, but on real people, not models or, you know, whatever. And they’re not pinned up either on napkins or models. It’s just how it looks. But yeah, I think in terms of the price points, and you know, making it, I think that was the question right about whether it’s affordable for poor people. I think that was the question. I really think that, you know, we’ve tried to make it as inclusive as possible. And that’s been a very, it’s been very, very important to me from the start. We’ve got some peers in the industry who have made fashion rental like a very luxury sort of feeling to it. And that’s not my game at all. My game is to sort of make quality accessible to everyone. And I think maybe it’s probably from my upbringing as well, but I really think of myself as a third culture kid, you know, like a global citizen, and I just feel like, Why should I be excluding people? There are people who, who want to be part of the solution. So, we’ve made sure that, you know, there’s no waiting list, there’s no subscription fee. And it’s cheap, you know? Yeah, I’m happy to be cheap. We’re labelled as cheap in the media. The cheapest option. I love it. I’ll take it.

 

Susuana: Okay, this one’s a bit hard to read. So if I, like really mess this up, please tell me. So what’s the real situation of bamboo in the textiles industry? Does that make sense to people?

 

Paola: Yeah, as a fibre, yeah. Okay. I’m not an expert on bamboo. But bamboo has got some great properties. But like all things when you – it’s the same as palm oil – there’s nothing wrong with palm oil in itself, there’s nothing wrong with bamboo. Where you have a problem is when people see it as a commercial, commercially attractive, and therefore they start overdoing it, yeah, just kind of like you know growing bamboo and because I think bamboo is essentially a weed, it grows very fast and it can take over other land and other crops very quickly and so it means that you know, you might have lots of bamboo to sell but then you don’t have anything to eat or you know, your community suffers. So the, the, the challenge with bamboo and with other fibres, which is why, for example, something like hemp is really good is because hemp grows well but it doesn’t spread at the same rate as bamboo does. And also it’s not so demanding on the top soil. Because that’s the other thing I think, it’s quite… I don’t want to say that it’s water intense, I can’t actually remember if it is, but it definitely takes a lot of nutrients out of the soil. And obviously even if you stop growing bamboo and go back to some other crops, the soil is depleted. So I think that from memory, those are the challenges with bamboo. But honestly, again, it’s like palm oil – if it’s responsibly sourced, and if it’s from, you know, agriculture that is done in a holistic way, there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s actually a really healthy fibre. I think it’s kind of like all things- when it becomes a commodity, actually, that’s the thing – when it gets commoditised and it takes over, then that’s when you start running into problems. I don’t know if that answers your question. I’m not an authority, so.

 

Susuana: Thank you for trying. Just in case anyone has any other questions they’ve thought of that they want to ask the panel? That’s all. Okay, so I’m gonna round up. Thank you. Thanks.



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Posted on February 22, 2020
Categories: Education for Sustainability, Interviews
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