Why Ethical? MADE Maternity’s ethos explained
Posted on 24 May 2017
MADE is an online maternity store that curates stylish, affordable, ethical maternity wear for the modern Mum and Mum-to-be. Stylish, because we think there’s a gap in the market for minimalist modern maternity, and affordable because not everyone wants to spend thousands of dollars on their wardrobe - that much is pretty simple. But why ethical?
Well the main reason is, we didn’t want to contribute to an existing major problem (or create any new problems, for that matter).
When we started on the journey of developing the MADE concept, we got to the nitty gritty of talking about how we would produce our own label - where, with what materials, who would be making the clothes, how would we get the final product to Australia (where MADE Maternity was initially based) etc. Not wanting to exploit anyone, including women and girls, and finding a partner who provided standard workplace and employment conditions for their workers, was something that came up really early on for us in this discussion. This was a prerequisite for finding a manufacturing partner.
We knew that fashion as an industry is not clean. In fact it is the second biggest polluter after big oil. We knew vaguely about the exploitation of garment workers, after Nike was exposed for using sweatshops, that was common knowledge. But we hadn’t fully appreciated the effect of the industry, and the exploitation of garment workers and what our role in this would be if we ignored it and went on our merry way.
We wanted to know more about the problem. Initially we set about getting the 411 by watching The True Cost, and the more we learnt, the stronger we felt about not being a part of the problem. While we want to put stylish, affordable maternity designs into the world to fill that void, we don’t want to partake in exploitation of people or the environment while we do it. So ethical manufacturing became a major part of the MADElabel offering.
After that, we revisited our criteria for brands that we wanted to stock. And we felt that we should have the same standards for any brands we carry as the standards we hold for our own manufacturing. So, ethical production became one of three key selection criteria for brands.
Instead of searching for maternity clothing with a cool aesthetic as our primary filter, we started searching for ethically produced maternity brands. That became the first criteria to tick off.
In reality, doing this ruled out 99% of brands. If it wasn’t obvious from a website that a brand had an ethical standpoint, then we would ask about their manufacturing, and if they didn’t have environmental and employment and workplace standards in place with their manufacturers, we wouldn’t go there. Eventually, after months of trawling, we found four amazing brands that were aligned with our ethical manufacturing practices.
Our ethical manufacturing focus has led to other elements that make up the MADE - our recycling program was inspired by our ethos. So too was our ignoring of the fast pace of seasonal fashion. Instead of churning out micro seasons, we choose capsule collections of style that will last, season to season. In all that we do at MADE, our ethical standpoint is a constant guide for decision making and direction.
So why haven’t we been more obvious about it? We get asked that a fair bit, with our friends and supporters believing this is one of our main selling points. Yes it’s in our tagline, but we haven’t been overt about our ethical ways, or tried to heavily promote this. In large part that was a decision based on our belief that ethical production of clothing should be the norm, not the exception. We didn’t want to promote this, because we kind of didn’t think it should be a selling point, it should just be standard in the industry. But we’ve realised this was misguided thinking. The reality is, clothing labels with an ethical manufacturing focus are in the absolute minority. It is not mainstream, although increasingly more popular.
So we’re changing our ways. From now on, you’re going to hear more about ethical manufacturing and why we think it’s important. No soapboxing, we promise. We just want to share helpful information on ethical labels we love, bloggers to follow for eco-fashion inspiration - stuff like that - among our usual offerings of blogs, image inspiration and MADE products.
When it comes to Fair Trade Certification, MADE is working towards growing to a point in our business where authentication of our practices is economically viable. We are a small business right now, and these sorts of authentications are costly, but we have plans for continued growth, and as we develop in size, our manufacturing processes will change and adapt. As that happens, external authentication of our practices will become more viable. And in the meantime, we will work with manufacturing partners who agree with our direct trade ethical practice standards and who are certified themselves.
If you want to know more about our ethical practices, then drop us a line - firstname.lastname@example.org