In the mid-nineties the organic food industry, still a niche market, sought to break into the mainstream. At the time, however, consumers had little understanding of “organic.” Over the years growing concern about health issues, pesticides, potential risks of genetically modified food, environmental damage resulting from industrial farming, and animal rights has pushed interest in organic food to the forefront of public consciousness. Organic food may cost a little more money than processed industrial food, but people now understand that saving a few cents can have enormous costs for their health, the environment, and the well being of workers. Green businesses savvy enough to detect the change in public awareness have proven very successful at convincing consumers of the value of buying organic and have driven the supermarket chains and even fast food industry to join the organic food movement. Certainly a lot of “green washing,” false advertising, occurs, but over time brands that deliver more than image will gain position in the market.
When people ask me why I invest in Ethical Fashion, I often make comparisons to the organic foods movement. What we put on our bodies is just as important as what we put in them. A public that has begun to exercise their consumer leverage to force organic food into the mainstream marketplace will increasingly demand ethical options from the clothing industry. As the Ethical Fashion movement educates consumers, people become more aware of the dangers of industrial chemicals in their clothing, of environmental damages from some mainstream industrial practices, and of the unsafe working conditions and inferior quality associated with the “race to the bottom” phenomenon. As they have with organic food, people will develop a holistic approach to the idea of quality. Status, value, workmanship, ethics, environmental and humanitarian concerns all become synonymous with quality. Consumers don’t make separate deliberations for each category. They make one decision. The more people who make the choice to support Ethical Fashion, the more such choices will become the standard.
– Rob Broggi, Founding Partner & CEO of Industrial Revolution II