An uptick in the importance of brand values and consumer consciousness has resulted in not only large high street brands taking sustainable fashion seriously, but also a significant increase in new smaller brands that have sustainability baked into their DNA. Studies in the US show that more than two thirds of Americans are willing to pay more for sustainable products, but most (74%) don’t know how to identify them. The launch of Ethical Clothing’s sustainable fashion search engine in North America aims to resolve this problem.
The sustainable clothing search engine was launched in 2019 out of Barcelona, Spain by co-founders Ben Heinkel and Jack Hesketh, entrepreneurs with a keen interest in environmental issues. As tech savvy people, keen to shop consciously, they noticed a significant rise in the number of sustainable clothing brands. However, these same brands were often difficult to find online, struggling to compete against the huge advertising budgets of larger fashion brands. So, with this access issue in mind the idea of a single point of discovery for ethical and sustainably produced clothing was born.
Initially the platform launched with over a hundred European brands that matched sustainability criteria such as the use of organic certified or recycled materials, transparent supply chains, and non-toxic dyes. The search engine itself allows quick discovery of products based on a number of common eCommerce filters (such as gender, price, and product type) as well as the type of material being used (such as organic cotton, bamboo, and recycled synthetics like Tencel). But this is just the beginning, the team is now working on a sustainability rating system and many more advanced filters to make finding the right ethical product a seamless experience.
“Our dream is for us to be able to ingest all the data the brands offer around their materials, processes and supply chains and provide our visitors with a scoring system that gives them the control as to how strict they want to be in their criteria for sustainable clothing” – Ben Heinkel (Co-founder Ethical Clothing)
Having quickly validated their model in Europe with thousands of consumers successfully using their service every month to find sustainable fashion that fits their style and budget, the team has now launched a North American section, featuring hundreds of brands from the US and Canada.
“We are always looking to partner with new ethical brands, regardless of their size. We hope to give more exposure to brands that go the extra mile in terms of sustainability.” – Jack Hesketh (Co-founder Ethical Clothing)
The number of ethical and sustainable fashion brands in the US and Canada is significant, and the team hopes that their launch will make a difference, by helping smaller brands gain further recognition and making sustainable product discovery easier for shoppers.
Apart from their main offering, Ethical Clothing has developed additional tools to help with other difficulties faced by consumers and brands in the ethical clothing space. On the customer side they wanted to tackle the perception that ethical and sustainable clothing was unaffordable.So, they launched a price drop alert service that keeps users fully up to date on all the offers available across their full catalogue of brands.
In addition, they’ve just launched the most comprehensive fashion footprint calculator to help consumers really understand how their fashion habits affect the planet across a range of metrics. Collecting twelve data points from fashion consumption, to washing habits, and sustainability awareness, the tool aims to inform users on their personal impact, as well as providing realistic action points to help everyone reduce their impact going forward.
Shoppers today are increasingly conscientious about the causes and values that they support with their purchasing power. Behemoths like Google, Amazon and Microsoft have taken note and recently launched additions to their existing products in an attempt to cater to new, more ethical, consumer demands. Google in 2021 launched their eco-certified hotel filter, Amazon has already had a climate pledge friendly search filter and Microsoft’s Bing has recently added an ‘Ethical Hub’ to their search engine (UK only at the time of this writing), all providing validation to the Ethical Clothing team that they have stumbled upon an interesting problem worth solving.