José Koopman – sustainability manager of Miss Green – knows all the ins and outs of the sustainable textile industry. In this interview, she shares some of her experience and expertise with us. For instance, it is possible to sell organic, fair labour t-shirts, for less than 10 euro.
Twenty years ago, José started as a buyer for big fashion companies. With corporate social responsibility (CSR) still in its infancy, she was given thick and detailed manuals that described what standards clothing had to meet. But what was meant with ‘good working conditions’ remained vague. She came to see that in the end, the price was still leading in the fashion industry. She resolved to resign and build her own company.
She started with helping and coaching companies that were willing to spend a little more to ensure good working conditions and keep the environmental impact to a minimum. Not long after she started, she teamed up with fashion label Miss Green.
How can consumers decide what good fashion is?
“First, you can check for certification. But that won’t tell you the full story. When there is no passion behind a certificate, it can still be a ‘hollow phrase’. Therefore, we should see certification as support of a brand’s story. It is one way of proving to your consumers that your story checks out.
For example, when we decide to work with a new supplier that doesn’t have a certificate, we find it very important to work together to obtain one. This creates trust, as it shows you both take sustainability seriously.”
You believe that fair fashion can be rather cheap, right?
“Well, it is often said that cheap can never be sustainable, but this is a misconception. The price of clothes is mostly determined by the quantity per order. The more you buy, the cheaper it gets. Sustainable fashion brands still order far smaller quantities than big international brands. So when sustainable fashion becomes more popular, it can also become cheaper.
Another important aspect are the links in the chain. When a high number of people and companies are involved in the production of a garment and the shirt is sold for 25 euros in the shop, little will remain for the tailor. But say you have a large order, which you buy directly from a sustainable factory and sell directly to your final consumers. This keeps margins low, and therefore it’s possible to sell a simple organic and fair t-shirt for less than 10 euros.”
For the fashion industry to become more sustainable, what is the value of platforms like Go Frank?
“They give consumers easier access to sustainable fashion, by bringing sustainable fashion brands together in one website. This is needed, because often people want to wear sustainable fashion, but don’t know where to find it. Platforms like Go Frank therefore contribute to more demand for sustainable fashion among consumers, and may trigger other brands to produce more sustainable.”
Why is it important for Miss Green to be on Go Frank?
“Go Frank informs consumers about sustainable fashion. This way the platform helps Miss Green to reach consumers that are interested in fashion and sustainability. Hereby, we collectively contribute to a better fashion industry.”
For this interview we collaborated with OW. Magazine, an online magazine that shows how entrepreneurs and innovation contribute to a more sustainable fashion industry. You can read the full Dutch interview and other articles on their website: ow-ourworld.nl
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