It has been two years since we launched VILDNIS and what an amazing journey it continues to be!
With another year gone, it is time to take stock of how we have done in terms of living up to our promise of being a sustainable fashion brand.
Last month we published our 2nd annual sustainability report, measuring our success in three areas; social, environmental and economic. You can read the full report here.
In a world full of greenwashing (the concept of fashion brands overexaggerating their efforts on sustainability in order to entice customers to buying their products), it is important to us to lead by example when it comes to transparency and honesty. For this reason, we are sharing both our successes and failures with you, because while we have met most of our targets, there are a few areas where we can do better.
Below are some of the highlights in the report
SOCIAL IMPACT (people)
This year, we added the names of dye houses, print houses and fabric mills to our supply chain map. The increased visibility is a particular highlight for us as very few brands make the same information available yet. The updated supply chain map is published on the website.
Another highlight is the fact that all workers at the three manufacturers we have worked with in the past year are paid a fair wage. For the two European factories, this means that all salaries are above the national minimum wage (which also constitutes the living wage in the countries they operate in). And for the Indian factory it means that all workers are paid well above the national minimum wage and 85% of the workers (the skilled force) are paid well above the living wage as well.
Being an ethical fashion company, we have had some concerns about using wool for our collection due to some (not all) sheep farmers using cruel practises such as mulesing. Wool is, however, one of the most amazing fibres for clothing, and we are therefore incredibly pleased that we found a solution that allowed us to use the fibre while knowing that no sheep were harmed in the process; an Italian yarn made from 100% recycled merino wool. Makes us particularly happy that we are the first brand in the UK market to use this yarn!
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT (planet)
On the environmental side, our highlights included using fabrics only from category A and B, the most environmentally friendly fibres (ref. Made-by.org benchmark in our sustainability report) apart from a tiny bit of elastane in three products.
We had set a goal of 100% of our fabrics to have either some kind of widely recognised certification or be branded. We didn’t quite reach this goal. In fact, we only made it to 89% due entirely to the above-mentioned recycled merino yarn not being GRS certified yet. When questioning the yarn manufacturer about the lack of certification, we were told that only very few brands have been interested in the recycled yarn, and that they will need to see a bigger demand before it makes it worth it to go through the certification process. We have full trust in the supplier having discovered them at the Sustainable Angle’s Future Fabrics Expo, and hence made a conscious decision to compromise in this area.
An area where we haven’t compromised, however, is on the eco-friendly water saving processes that we are using for our fabrics. All prints have been digitally printed and all denim has been ‘washed’ and finished using air instead of water.
Another highlight was the carbon offset of all air freight of our goods, as was the low returns rate from customers (thank you), saving the planet from lots of courier journeys and hence carbon emissions.
And finally, we were proud to participate in the Anti-Black-Friday pop up store in London and celebrating Green Friday instead of Black Friday. The unsustainable overconsumption ‘feast’ doesn’t sit well with us and it felt good donating all profits from sales made during this particular weekend to Friends of Earth.
ECONOMIC IMPACT (profit)
The current retail environment has been a challenge for us in the past year, with lots of the big retailers going very deep on the discounts. As part of our promise to you to make sustainable fashion affordable, we operate on a lower margin than most traditional fashion retailers, and we were faced with the challenge of consumers being used to paying less than the realistic value of goods and only shopping when offered discounts. In an ideal world, we would like to distance ourselves far away from this discounting culture and instead offer you, our customers, prices that are realistic and viable for sustainably produced products. In reality, we had to join the Christmas Sales this year in order to keep the business running. It won’t be a tradition…
On the upside, we stayed true to our promise of steering clear of unsustainable consumer events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Blue Monday
Overall, we are incredibly proud of what we have achieved in the first two years, having met the majority of our short-term targets. It makes us happy knowing that every day we are doing something good for the workers in our supply chain, animals and the planet.
At the moment we, the four co-founders of VILDNIS, are finalising the targets for 2019/2020 and these will be published on our website before the end of August 2019.
Thank you so much for supporting us on our mission to make sustainable fashion the norm.