How shopping and storytelling can achieve the global goals
New storytelling platform for fashion launches today
At least 14 out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals from can be tackled with fashion. Sounds insane, right? It’s not. Fashion has the ability to protect the planet through from production to post-consumer waste; the ability to employ people worldwide and invest in communities creating sustainable programs; and the ability to share its profits with each step of the supply chain and beyond. But, for most fashion brands, this isn’t that case. The hype of fast fashion and the profit-drive means many brush all this aside without a care.
In 2015 these Global Goals got me thinking: if the fashion industry could be a huge part of the answer, why isn’t it changing?
In the UK 39% of people say they want to buy their clothes ethically, but less than 0.5% actually do. In addition to being able to deliver on the greatest goals our world has ever seen, this shows there’s also a huge gap that should be making the fashion industry sit up and follow consumer demand. So, the question again, why isn’t ethical fashion the norm?
The truth is there are many reasons. Think about the last time you went out to buy a new shirt. While in theory you would love to buy a shirt that also saves the world, first and foremost you want to find a shirt that looks great. Where would you even start about finding such a super-shirt that does both?
It’s simple to see that ethical fashion, in a style that you love, is harder to find. It’s not yet as common or accessible as fast fashion, and we aren’t bombarded with advertising for these products as much as we are for the hottest brands on the high street. However, the truth is these products - clothing that is truly good - are out there.
I believe the solution lies in us getting better at telling the story behind the goods that are out there - beautiful, stylish goods that are also ethical.
We live on the basis of storytelling, from simple day-to-day stories of our lives to the bigger stories that shape our lives. As we tell these stories, their power and recognition spreads, and suddenly they become the norm.
In search of finding the story behind the fashion world, I visited a pioneering ethical jewelry brand called Soko over Christmas. Soko works with artisans to up cycle metallic waste from the Kibera slum and turn it into stunning statement jewelry that fits right in with current trends, and doesn’t break the bank.
But the story runs so much deeper than that. One morning I visited the Kibera, and met an artisan named Fred. In his studio he showed me how to weld some of the latest jewelry he was making, and explained that through his employment with Soko he was earning 4 times the amount he was earning before - enough to purchase new gas tanks to multiply his work output and increase his earnings to support his family well into the future. And, that’s just one example. Over 1,000 artisans are employed through the Soko network.
Not only did my time meeting Fred lead me to tell his story over and over again, I also found myself logging onto Soko’s website the other day to purchase some earrings and a necklace of theirs I knew I just had to add to my jewelry collection.
This is powerful, fun, Global Goal achieving stuff. Great products I want to buy because they are stunning, and knowing that by doing so I know I am supporting Fred, and so many others like him. Stories create bonds between people and places, and they have the ability to change lives and change the way we live. I firmly believe in the power of storytelling, and by knowing every detail about the product you own means these life changing stories can live forever. I’m not sure I can shop any other way again.
In fact, I’ve made the personal commitment to only purchase clothing that has a positive impact from now on, and am teaming up with some experts from the fashion world including the beautiful and brilliant Tebea Hughes (former Head of Product at Reformation) to make sure you can too.
These products with great stories exist within the brands you already love, and they exist on the other side of the world. But, without knowing where to look, they are hard to find. That’s why today we are launching Stori: an online story-telling platform that will tell the stories behind the goods you love.
At www.stori.org you can view the first few stories we have found for you covering fashion, jewelry and home wares. And, you can even request what stories and products you would like us to find for you. We will find what you’re looking for and tell you good stories you can get behind, as you continue in your journey to play your part in achieving the Global Goals.
Check it out today, and stay tuned for more stories in the future on www.stori.org and here on Global Citizen.
The views expressed here are not necessarily those of each of the partners of Global Citizen.