Sustainable brands should be concerned with the impact of their products on society and the environment.
They seek, or they should, to produce legally and ethically towards workers and the environment.
The fashion brand’s commitment to sustainable development must be reflected by fair workers’ payments, raw materials, and processes with the least possible impact on the environment.
However, we know that to achieve these goals, brands face several challenges. Reconciling fair trade production, circular design, sourcing sustainable fabrics, and ethical strategies for sales and promotion leads to high cost compared to the products produced by fast fashion brands.
Therefore, one of the main challenges faced by sustainable brands is to clarify and justify prices to customers. So they can understand the costs associated with more ethical and sustainable production.
The online platform and incubator for sustainable fashion brands, Slow Innovation Brands, presents below some communication tips for your brand. These tips can be incorporated into your eco-marketing strategy.
In our platform’s virtual environment, you will find the extended version of this article, with additional tips to those presented here. To access, log in with your username and password.
If you need assistance in defining your brand’s communication content to include the tips mentioned here, contact your project mentor. This service is free for designers enrolled in The Slow Fashion Innovation Program. For external designers, we charge a fee that can vary depending on the profile of your brand.
For more information about The Slow Fashion Innovation Program, please contact email@example.com
Tip 1: Transparency
Transparency is undoubtedly one of the most powerful and necessary tools to turn fashion sustainable. Without transparency, the consumer can’t be sure if a particular brand is ethical and sustainable.
We know that as a matter of commercial strategy, brands do not always like to reveal to their competitors who are their manufacturing and fabric suppliers.
However, even without revealing your suppliers’ names and addresses, you can publicize your workers’ working conditions. You can take pictures and films from their workplace and inform your consumers what your worker’s salary is.
Fashion Revolution has been doing a great job educating brands and consumers. Fashion Revolution is a global movement dedicated to promoting awareness of the need for transparency in the fashion industry.
Every year, reports are published where the entity analyzes the largest fashion brands in the world. They rank them according to the highest or lowest transparency level in their social and environmental policies, practices, and impacts. According to the Fashion Revolution, “The Index is a tool to incentivise and push major brands to be more transparent”.
For other brands, in special sustainable fashion ones, like yours, Fashion Revolution encourages you to show the people who work with you. You can share their stories and help to transform the industry by demonstrating transparency in your supply chain.
On the Fashion Revolution website, you can find free materials to use in your social media channels. You will find a complete guide with detailed explanations on how brands can engage with the movement of transparency and the ‘I made your clothes’ poster.
We suggest that you accept the Fashion Revolution’s invitation to be more transparent.
Use the material made available by the entity as part of the eco-marketing campaign for your sustainable fashion brand. Document your ‘making of’ process through photographs and videos and share it on your website and social networks.
Tip 2: Digital activism: drawing attention to your cause
Fashion Revolution campaigns that encourage consumers to question “Who made my clothes?” are a beautiful example of digital activism.
In addition to being involved in the entity’s campaigns, you can use your brand to draw attention to other initiatives and causes that you consider relevant. This also can be incorporated into the eco-marketing strategy of your sustainable fashion brand.
In this sense, the Creativism movement directly related to the practices of artists, writers, and musicians has also been used in marketing campaigns around activism. They aim to pass messages and promote the engagement of their followers.
According to the Urban Dictionary, “Creativism is the conscious application of creative principles, practices, and processes to every aspect of life, including relationships, work, home, and money”.
The first time we heard about this concept was when we were attending the Web Summit in 2017, due to our doctoral thesis’s empirical research on digital nomadism and remote work sustainability.
At that Web Summit, we had the opportunity to attend the talk Creativity in an activist-driven world, by Gail Heimann, president of Weber Shandwick. Her presentation’s focus was to demonstrate the potential for marketers to promote not only engagement but engagement with social impact in their campaigns in the current environment of activism.
As an example of this type of campaign can be mentioned “I touch Myself”, derived from the I Touch Myself Project. It is a breast cancer awareness project launched by JWT Sydney and the Cancer Council. The campaign is a tribute to ícon Australian Chrissy Amphlett, who passed away from breast cancer.
Environmental activism has also made extensive use of creativity techniques, and you can do it too. So, we encourage you to use your creativity to draw attention to causes that matter to you.
Tip 3: Be careful and truthful with the content you share
Concerning the previous tip (Tip 2: Digital activism: drawing attention to your cause), it is essential to be honest with yourself and your audience. Don’t share slogans and campaigns that you don’t identify yourself with. Just because other famous brands or people are doing it doesn’t mean that you have to follow and copy them.
The causes you are involved in must be carefully thought out and evaluated. Sharing posts and speeches from people just because they are in the media is a common practice in the Internet world. This mistake can have serious consequences, linking your brand to actions that you would not get involved after careful reflection.
Nowadays, talking about sustainability is also a powerful marketing strategy. Greenwashing to say so. Greenwashing is a marketing technique that uses discursive techniques to promote a certain product or company as ethical and sustainable. Marketers use "green slogans" that do not reflect the actual practice of companies.
"Evidence an organization is greenwashing often comes from pointing out the spending differences: when significantly more money or the time has been spent advertising being "green" (that is, operating with consideration for the environment), than is actually spent on environmentally sound practices" (Wikipedia).
To learn more about the concept of Greenwashing, see the following video, and visit the Greenpeace website.
The greenwashing strategy is not used only by brands, but also by internet influencers. That is why we emphasize the importance of not sharing content on topics and subjects that you have no prior knowledge. Before reposting other people’s speeches, try to find out what they do for the cause they defend in addition to their media discourse.
The Internet is a powerful tool for engagement and acts as a driving tool for offline actions and behaviors.
Castells (2005: 17), a Spanish sociologist, states that technology does not determine society: it is the society itself. It is the society that shapes technology according to the needs, values, and interests of the people who use it. So, it can be used both as an instrument of oppression or awareness.
That is why you must be very careful with the causes that you advocate.
In this sense, Garcia (2005: 6-7), a Portuguese sociologist, analyzes the relationship between cyberculture and citizenship. The author calls attention, among other factors, to the blogosphere’s influence in triggering street actions, with the typical speed of the Internet and new communication and information technologies. He explains that the discussion today is no longer focused on how to use the Internet, but on the best way to use it, to allow greater and more aware civic participation.
So, before creating your content, we recommend you to reflect on what you do in your daily life to deal with situations that you are drawing your audience’s attention to.
If you and your brand do nothing concrete and practical to ease that situation in your daily life, it does not make sense to start sharing posts from other people. Start first by reviewing your actions related to that particular cause and then share in your channels only what you actually do for that cause. Try to do something practical before you want to convince other people to get involved in a specific cause.
1 - be transparent about the origin and composition of the materials you use. Be transparent also and about the conditions of the workers involved in your production.
2- Use Creativism in your digital channels and marketing campaigns to draw attention to causes you believe in;
3 - Be honest with yourself and your audience! Just share content that you and your brand really identify with. In addition to sharing content, try to take practical actions in your daily life to help solve the problems you discuss on your social networks.
Accept the challenge!
We hope this content has been helpful to you. We invite the designers participating in The Slow Fashion Innovation Program to take part in the challenge of creating an advertising campaign for their brand inspired by Creativism movement.
To inspire you, we have prepared unique content for you with examples of other campaigns that we identify with. We have also designed a template with a logical and self-explanatory sequence to help you develop your eco-marketing campaign.
And remember, your mentors are here to help you. If you need help with any of the stages of creating your campaign, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Article by Tatí Souza
Lecturer, Writer, Lawyer, and Sociologist.
Slow Innovation Brands Founder