What if fashion brands didn't just make clothes?

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The last film that made me cry was Flore Vasseur’s “Bigger Than Us“, the story of seven young people from all around the world. Through their courage and commitment, they prove that each one of us can play our part in facing today’s major challenges: climate change, plastic pollution, human rights, gender equality, and other issues.

You’ll say “Yes, but what can a fashion brand contribute, besides creating jobs and destroying everything else?” My answer is simple. According to Marie Claire journalist and author Mélody Thomas: fashion is political, and it transforms our societies, educates, influences, and stirs our emotions. In the immense battle of visions and opinions, fashion is a tool we can’t ignore, and our role as a federation is to help turn fashion brands and their managers into examples businesses that are engaged, creative, and innovative!

Among the flurry of environmental allegations and often-misleading practices based on pseudo-commitments, some certification boards, such as B Corp, have been on the right track for several years. To evaluate businesses, the American certification institution uses five major themes: governance, workers, environment, community, and consumers. One of the first companies to receive B Corp certification was, in fact, Patagonia, a fashion brand considered one of the strictest labels in terms of commitment. So what a joy it was when De Bonne Facture, and (just a few weeks ago) Patine announced their certifications.

What does B Corp approval tell us about these two role-model brands? It tells us that these brands don’t just make clothes, that they are businesses and managers who have chosen to create a positive impact through their economic activities. It tells us that they follow a powerful business model while remaining exemplary in how business is conducted. Labels and certificates shouldn’t be considered ends in themselves. They bring the advantage of creating a context for reflection and for listing what good can be accomplished and what is not yet being done. They require companies to act, write, justify, and ask themselves “What is our purpose?” and “Why are we doing what we do?

Though multiple human and financial investments are often needed to initiate the certification process, there are still numerous activities to set up prior to the process. Maybe the first question to ask is, “What if my brand didn’t just make clothes?”

The Fédération Française du Prêt à Porter Féminin is strengthening its manager support programs for these subjects. Whether you have an idea for a project or you’re a big brand, don’t wait to talk to us about building your engagement strategies.