EDITORIAL | Changing landscape of retail and the experience culture

woman wearing grey shirt and blue hat
woman wearing Natasha Tonic swimwear

Internet and the evolvement of social media has created a powerful tool to market small & independent brands – a category in which a majority of sustainable brands fall into. Even if you think that a single independent brand can’t do much to the massive high-street players – there are thousand of independent brands out there and the impact can be seen as one big retailer after another closes their stores. Many argue that this is just the beginning. Personally, for the last several years I can’t recall a time when I was excited to shop in a physical store and if I had to it felt more like a burden than anything else. That was until I visited Tokyo. Maybe Japanese do it better but there was something different about their stores. Not only they were located in beautifully designed buildings with captivating interior design but they also had inbuilt cafes, floral workshops and they offered a carefully curated selection of brands. Yes, there was everything from clothing to books and vintage one-of-a-kind items. Like Marc Jacobs Bookmarc store that sells books along some accessories, Kitsune coffee shop and more. What I soon realise was that what captured my attention was experience.

It is not about selling a product it’s about selling a lifestyle.

That is why you see yoga & meditation classes in activewear stores like Lululemon, brands like Gucci opening restaurants and luggage company Away, purely built on social media, having pop-up hotel in Paris.

woman wearing navy hat
woman having her face in the sun

When last summer I visited Glossier pop-up in London I was mesmerised by how beautifully the space was decorated, mostly in the ‘millennial pink’ of course. Everything was on-the-brand. However, the surprise factor was that you weren’t able to buy anything there just test the products. To be honest when I left the pop-up I kind of wanted to be part of their cool girl gang and learn how we could apply their marketing tools to sustainable fashion. OK, you might wonder what does these grand marketing spectacles have to do with independent sustainable brands. Why would we want to generate more consumerism? Nevertheless, sustainable fashion brands are still in the business of selling and I personally believe that any sustainable item that is sold instead of fast fashion one is a positive step forward. The thing is that even if we sometimes tend to believe that sustainability is this niche magical sector where people would come to you just for the sake of you selling something environmentally friendly – you are wrong.

We are out there to compete with every single brand that can satisfy the needs of this new experience driven consumer. Good news though – we have a lifestyle to offer and story to tell so buckle up. 

Woman wearing light blue outfit and black hat
Woman wearing light blue jeans

The proof that we are moving towards more conscious and experience driven culture is out there so let’s take the best marketing tools and apply those to sustainable fashion. For example, recently the second largest retail giant H&M launched ARKET store. It not only offer more transparency from their supply chains, natural fabrics and slightly more expensive staple garments but also their value proposition is their physical stores. You probably wonder why in the time when everything is going online one would open physical space. The answer is experience. Their stores offer curated and beautifully exhibited selection of products across different categories from clothing to home wear (and, yes, featuring other brands like VEJA shoes alongside their own products) as well as built in cafe that is meant for relaxing and enjoying a cup of coffee and even better – healthy food. However, you might argue that H&M has a different budgets than independent sustainable fashion brands have. But the thing is that it’s not about spending large sums of money but about representing something and allowing your community to join in. Which means engaging with them on and offline.

woman wearing grey shirt and light purple felt hat
woman wearing beige sweater
Woman wearing a black hat from Verity Collective

Recently, I attended a supper club organised by ConsciousTee a brand that makes ethical and sustainable organic cotton tees. The event wasn’t about selling their clothes but about representing their lifestyle. It started of with sound healing meditation that embodies brands idea of mindfulness and continued with the most wonderful 7 course vegan dinner at Salad Pride. It was guided by the chef as each course symbolised one of 7 chakras through different colours, tastes and smells. The secret was that even though it was an intimate event with 10 spaces it was open to anyone who bought the ticket and not just selected celebrities or influencers. Turning back to Glossier their founder has stated that their influencers are regular people—customers who engage with the brand on Instagram, Slack, and at pop-up events. Brand shares their follower images which allows the community to become ever more passionate about the brand as they don’t feel like they have to have thousands of followers to be noticed by them. Just create beautiful imagery. It allows brand to be relatable and feel like a good friend. Just because we have more technology it doesn’t mean that we stay at home, more than ever we go out to hunt for the most exciting experiences. We want to be a part of a community and, definitely, tell about that on our social media. So why not give people possibility to wear and talk about all the wonderful things that sustainable fashion community has to offer.


NATASHA TONIC | swimwear

SUSTAINABILITY | Made and dyed in Los Angles from natural hemp. Brand uses recycled packaging.

KINGS OF INDIGO | denim

SUSTAINABILITY | Their garments are made from sustainable fabrics such as organic and recycled denim. They are transparent with their supply chain and the list of suppliers are available on their website. Brand uses recycled materials for their packaging.

VERITY COLLECTIVE | hats

SUSTAINABILITY | Handmade in Luton, England from carefully selected felts.

PRABA750 | jewellery

SUSTAINABILITY | Brand uses highest quality recycled materials upcycled directly from individuals resulting in 50-75% lower price point without retail markup and other hidden costs. They repurpose the upcycled jewellery in their workshops, where they can keep an eye on the production from inception to shipping; recycle, because gold mining has a history of wars, labour abuses and environmental devastation. Their jewellery is made in Europe from solid gold.

STUDY 34 | jumpers

SUSTAINABILITY | Their jumpers are ethically made in Arequipa, Peru by women from 100% baby alpaca. Alpaca is biodegradable and has not been dyed.

 

Look 1: Hat: Verity Collective; Jumper: Study34; Jeans: Kings of Indigo / Look 2: Hat: Verity Collective; Earring: Praba750; Swimwear: Natasha Tonic / Look 3: Hat: Verity Collective; Swimwear: Natasha Tonic; Earring: Praba750 / Look 4: Hat: Verity Collective / Look 5: Hat: Verity Collective; Swimwear: Natasha Tonic; Jeans: Kings of Indigo / Look 6: Jeans: Kings of Indigo / Look 7: Hat: Verity Collective; Jumper: Study34; Jeans: Kings of Indigo / Look 8: Jumper: Study34 / Look 9: Hat: Verity Collective

PHOTOGRAPHY: Madara Freimane | MODEL: Queen at PRM |  MAKE-UP: Melanie Christou | ARTICLE: What’s Your Legacy 

More Stories

MY SUSTAINABLE WARDROBE WITH ESTELLE DOUCHET
We met sustainable textile consultant and designer Estelle Douchet to talk sustainable fashion and explore her wardrobe. This is the thirteenth episode of our series MY SUSTAINABLE WARDROBE where we talk to...
MY SUSTAINABLE WARDROBE with Danielle Copperman
We met entrepreneur, writer and model Danielle Copperman to talk sustainable fashion and explore her wardrobe. This is the twelfth episode of our series MY SUSTAINABLE WARDROBE where we talk to individuals...
Purple background with colourful text saying circular fashion. What? Why? How?
CIRCULAR FASHION: WHAT? WHY? HOW?
We hosted a panel discussion 'CIRCULAR FASHION: WHAT? WHY? HOW?’ at the Conscious Pop-up by ConsciousTee to explore what circular fashion is, why it is important to move towards circularity...