Last week, Thursday, I went to Ethical Brand Directory's Second Birthday at Mahiki in Mayfair. I was super excited to be invited along, partly because I love ethical brand directory and everything they stand for, and partly because Mahiki is where the Made in Chelsea lot go all the time, and I'm a bit of a reality TV addict. (Yes love island has taken over my Summer and I'm not even sorry anymore.)
Ethical Brand Directory are a directory of ethical and sustainable brands, carefully curated for their ethics, ethos and beauty. They are also a global network connecting conscious consumers with conscious brands, hosting events and an academy to help businesses have more ethical and sustainable practices. Each brand is selected by Founder Roberta Lee, who is a sustainable stylist. She has very exacting standards so you can be sure every brand listed on the site meets the highest ethics. All in all Ethical Brand Directory is a great one stop shop for all your ethical fashion needs!
The dress code for the event was smart glam, which had me hella excited. I live for getting dressed up, but as a blogger who has social anxiety, I hardly ever leave the house and live in tracksuit bottoms, so any excuse is welcomed. Of course I tried to keep my outfit as ethical as possible. The dress is from a charity shop, the bag is second hand from Traid, the jacket is 4+ years old and a pair of Vagabond shoes that I was given as a gift quite a few years ago. At the time I wasn't that into ethical fashion, I shopped in charity and vintage shops a lot but I was also a high street addict. So I looked into Vagabond recently and at first was pleasantly surprised. They were being hailed as a sustainable brand who made everything in Sweden. However having done a little more digging most of their shoes are made in South East Asia, and it seems like they aren't very transparent about what makes them sustainable. It all seems a little wishy washy for me so I wouldn't recommend them. If you're on the hunt for great ethical vegan shoes, I would recommend vegetarian shoes, but also keep an eye on ethical brand directory as they are adding new brands all the time!
We were welcomed in with gorgeous cocktails, and I fretted over the idea of networking, while Jamie told me not to panic.
The event kicked off with a fashion panel that featured Roberta Lee, founder of Ethical Brand Directory, Trusted Partner Steve Woody, an expert at online systems and processes, Trusted Partner Utami Giles, a marketing brand, and sustainable material expert, and Jenny Holloway from Fashion Enter, a not for profit fashion social enterprise and the UK's first fashion academy. Jenny also recently founded Belles of London a fashion brand created by Fashion Enter's talented pattern cutters and machinists.
It was really informative and so interesting to hear from people in the industry who can predict the changes coming, and the hurdles we still have to overcome in ethical fashion. They talked about the future of fabrics, how technology is helping ethical fashion brands, and trends in wider fashion that are leading to more sustainable practices. I was really interested to hear from Jenny that Asos are reducing the number of items they order, and that this is a trend across fast fashion. Production is declining which can only be a good thing. The panel was then opened up to questions from the audience, and guess who was brave enough to put her hand up and speak! Yeh, you guessed it, ME!
I'm going to paraphrase what I said and the answers, these aren't direct quotes because my memories not that good. I introduced myself and then said "As a blogger I want to work with brands who have good values and ethics, but I'm also very aware that I don't want to encourage people to buy things, just for buyings sake. What responsibility do you think brands have to take, in a world where consumerist culture itself needs to change?"
Roberta explained that this is a difficulty for brands, as primarily they are set up to create profit, without it they can't survive. But she mentioned a shift in the industry towards offering extra services, such as repairs, tailoring and recycling of pieces.
Creating pieces that are made to last, but also getting return business from customers for repairs, or alterations if a customer changed dress size is a brilliant model. It would be so exciting to see more brands offering these services, and it would create a culture of looking after your clothing for the consumer too.
Steve then went on to remind me of the responsibility I have as an influencer. To make sure I am choosy over who I work with, and to remind my readers and followers that consumerism isn't the be all and end all.
I have to admit when I first started my blog I was happy to receive just about anything. I was so shocked businesses were even interested in my little blog, I couldn't help but be flattered. However in the last year or so I made a decision to only work directly with brands that are ethical and sustainable. So that is what I'm trying to do, I'm not perfect in my every day life. I still use single use plastic, but I'm working every day at getting better and that's what I expect from brands too.
After the panel there was time to do a bit of networking, which is my least fave thing maybe ever. But I have a total top tip, for any equally anxious would be boss bitches! If they have a question and answer thing try to ask a question and introduce yourself. As soon as the panel was over, I found myself with people coming to see me as they wanted to speak to a blogger. I didn't have to do any of the awkward introduction bit because they already knew who I was. Winning! I also met another lovely ethical and sustainable blogger, check out her blog Everyfootprint.
Finally was the grand unveiling of the new Ethical Brand Directory website. The team explained all the work that had gone in to the new website and the event, and then we were shown it in all it's new shiny glory. It's a beautifully slick site. All the brands are given identifying stickers so you can tell about their ethics easily. You can also sort by vegan brands, which is a really useful feature for all my fellow vegans! There are a lot of beautiful vegan brands on there too.
Thanks ever so much for inviting me down Ethical Brand Directory!