We asked our community on Instagram a question recently - How much does a company's transparency mean to you?
This one is close to our hearts at Lucy & Yak. We really value transparency and try to be upfront and honest and about what we're doing and why.
There's lots of information on our site about #whomademyclothes and about our ethos. It's really important to us to be clear and transparent about what we are doing. Not just the best bits; all the bits! We believe in looking after the people who work for us and paying them a living wage. That puts the price up a bit but we think it's worth it. To be sustainable, we need to buy less and buy better.
There were lots of contributors to the debate, here's a taste of what you all had to say!
Eyes wide open
The whole planet is on a journey. Consumers are becoming more aware of the impact of our lifestyles and choices on the environment and the people involved in supply chains. And having become a bit more aware, we are realising what we don't know. Not all businesses are as transparent as we would like. Customers want to know about where the materials come from that make our clothes, how they are grown and who is working with them. We want to know how clothes are dyed, what the conditions are like in which people are making our clothes. We want to know they are being paid a living wage, not just a minimum wage, and we want to know where the profits go. Are companies investing in positive developments for the industry or are they taking home a big paycheck? Consumers are getting used to hearing about business owners siphoning off enormous bonuses and we don't want to support that kind of business by giving them our money. And if a company tries to hide what they are doing, that's a big red flag that there's something they don't want us to know.
At Lucy & Yak, we are aiming to be as transparent as we can and wanted to let you know we have a new partner factory in Turkey, HC Organised Textile. We are working together on some exciting new products, such as cropped cotton sweatshirts, high waisted leggings and cropped leggings! Watch the space!
Clothes: our chosen skin
What we love to see is a company trying their best to get it right and being honest about how that's going. It feels great as a consumer to know we're supporting a company that is aiming to do some good, rather than just making money. Then you can have peace of mind and enjoy telling your clothes' story when people ask. “If our clothes are our chosen skin then we want to be clothed in garments that were made by people who were honoured, protected and empowered”. What a great turn of phrase, thanks @mikaelaloach!
At Lucy and Yak, we know we don't always get it right and set out on a journey where we are aiming to improve and build. We try to listen to our customers and to take on board your ideas and suggestions – we really value them. One of those issues has been to include more plus-sized clothing and we have been working on this behind the scenes. We've had a lot of work to do on our current sizing before we could add anymore sizes. Our sizing has been inconsistent because we haven't had the technical help that we needed. We now have an in house team working on this, so expect lots of new sizes and improved fits across our current sizes.
Lucy & Yak lifecycle
We've also been thinking a lot about the lifecycle of our products and we are really excited to be launching a Buy Back Scheme. We've had this idea in the pipeline for over a year now, but we need the correct infrastructure and team to help us implement it. Keep your eyes peeled for more on this one! It's important that a brand is responsible when it comes to reusing, recycling and disposing of waste. We are trying to get as close to zero waste as we can (at least when it comes to fabric); we're making bucket hats and bags out of scraps and leftovers which as well as being important for sustainability, are completely funky cool!
The bigger picture
Transparency and sustainable practice doesn't only apply to the clothing industry. It's clearly an issue right across our economy, from cosmetics to food. It's interesting to recognise that these issues can be described as inherently political particularly in terms of where businesses invest. It would be great if transparency became the norm for all companies; it will only happen if we keep asking for it! Social media can be a great resource in this respect; it enables brands to give customers an insight into the day to day workings of the company and put the spotlight on every part of their business.
Fashion Revolution's Transparency Index
It would be really useful to have a rating scheme through which all companies could be measured. It can be hard to compare two brands when they are using different terms and criteria by which to measure their business. That's made more complicated by the way in which terms like “ethical” and “sustainable” can be thrown around in an attempt at “greenwashing”. It all muddies the water.
Fashion Revolution are on it! They've produced a Transparency Index which is a great resource to use to check out some of the big name brands. They have rated the top 200 clothing companies in the UK just in terms of how much information they give about how their business is run and how their products are made. This isn't about sustainability or ethics; just about how willing they are to share what they do.
We're trying hard to make sure we are transparent at Lucy and Yak. We've just had some really exciting new designs drop recently and you can read about who made them, how and where on our site.
Keep in touch through Instagram and keep asking questions – it really helps us make sure we are heading in the right direction. We are accountable. To you, to the people who made your clothes, and to the planet!