Are companies like Brother Vellies or Edun catering to a niche market or are they starting a revolution?
I think that they are starting a revolution, but at the moment I would say they're reaching a niche market. I think once people are more aware of ethical fashion and the impact that it has, it'll transition into a revolution. I think there's definitely the start of a movement right now though, more people are becoming aware and more conscious about what they buy.
Are people ready to pay more for ethical fashion?
Good question. I think it's up to the companies to educate their consumer and being transparent about where their dollars are going. I think when that's done successfully; people are more willing to pay more.
When entering the philanthropic landscape, it lot can feel completely overwhelming because there are so many issues in the world. How do you deal with that?
I think I felt that way, especially going into Rwanda and seeing how much need there is in that country. Can I really help people, just me? I think it's all about taking one step at a time in the right direction. Even though they're small, there are a lot of companies that are taking one step in the right direction, especially in ethical fashion. Once there's a group of people that do that, that can really create change and lessen the burden of “can we really make a difference?”
What are some benefits that fashion receives when taking an ethical approach?
Reaching a wider audience. I think people in this day are more interested in seeing their dollars going towards something that's doing good. Fashion has such a huge stake in the economy that when you spend your money in the right way, it's going to create change.
Also environmentally. A lot of people, they shop fast fashion, but they don't really understand the cause or what went behind that $2 t-shirt.
For me, I don't have the money to spend on ethical fashion, but what I do is I turn towards thrifting. I think that's a really strong alternative. You're not feeding into that cycle of paying $2 for a shirt and you can still get good clothing for a lesser amount.
How do you alter the pattern in a fast fashions consumer's mind?
I think it must start by changing the everyday person’s perception of what fashion is. To the average person, fashion is simply a means to cover the body and to stay on trend. Not much thought goes into thinking about why a t-shirt is $4.99. There needs to be a fundamental shift in the way fashion is presented to the consumer. Recently there has been a surge in companies, like Everlane and Vetta Capsule, that are presenting well-made ethically sourced collections in small batches as a way to combat the over consumption of unsustainable clothing. As companies like these expand and multiply, we will see a shift in the way consumers approach fashion.