The New Year is a bit of a milestone for The White T-Shirt Co. The end of 2014 marks the end of our first year since re-launching. So we've not only been reflecting on last year, but also on our journey since we first started to trade way back in 2004.
When we first launched we were one of the first accredited ‘green’ brands. We built our business on our ethics and our quality, so when we lost our original organic yarn supplier in 2010 we were devastated. But it was indicative of the time – our supplier closed because the demand for his quality of yarns had significantly declined.
But here’s a slightly different story. The founding principle of Green Cotton, our Danish partner, was ‘cradle to grave’ production. This focus on the lifecycle of their organic cotton garments has not changed since their own launch in 1984. They too had a tough time, but they never wavered from their core values, and how right they have proven to be!
What Green Cotton did was re-trench: They focused on what they did well and they narrowed their offering. They took responsibility for their supply chain and they made sure that their product was the best quality. Is this not an archetype 2015 company?
Over this last year particularly we have seen an esculating change in the fashion and retail landscape. An increasing number of consumers are actively seeking out quality. Room has been made for small companies doing one thing well, but most importantly consumers want garments that will last and they want to know where and how they were made – they too want to be able to trace the life-cycle of their clothes, from source to shop.
So 2014 was a year of quite significant changes for us. And after much discussion these are the top 5 events which particularly marked the year for us:
• Ethical fashion moved from a sub-section to be part of the main stage at London Fashion week. Recognision that ethical is no longer an 'alterative' choice and can fight it's own design corner thank you very much. What a turn around.
• We’ve also seen this reflected in our work with local fashion students in the North East. They have shown us that sustainability is now an integral part of their fashion design curriculum. Clearly large clothing brands are starting to pay attention to the new generation of fashion designers! And it's fabulous to see High Street companies such as H&M turning things around and becoming one of the leading advocates of transparency and cradle to grave responsibility.
• A significant day this year was Fashion Revolution Day on the 24th April which marked the 1st anniversary of the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. Fashion Revolution Day used the strap line ‘Who made your clothes?’ as a call to action. Asking all of us to question the supply chain of our favourite wardrobe items. We need to keep asking but it's wonderful to see supply chain transparency on the agenda now.
• A low point of our year has been the situation in Ukraine, where Green Cottons’ factory is based. The people we work with and the places we’ve visited in Ukraine filled our screens and our hearts and will continue to do so until a resolution is found. Our friends and colleagues in Ukraine have shown inspirational determination, resolve and fortitude and have cemented for us the importance of a global community.
• And lastly, a personal highlight of the year has actually been you, our customers. We’ve successfully built a fantastic new customer base since relaunch and have really enjoyed re-establishing relationships with our returning customers. We have worked hard to make sure that our re-launch met and infact exceeded our original standards and it has been wonderful to see these reflected in customer’s feedback.
So what a mile stone – for both ourselves and our ‘conscious consumers’. We hope we have lived up to our founding promise and we’d like to say a huge thank you to you all for your support and feedback and we’re looking forward to sharing with you many exciting things for the year ahead!
Happy New Year!