We live in a time where purpose & sustainability are en vogue. Great right?? Kind of… allow me to explain.
What’s amazing about nearly every company in fashion claiming some sort of sustainability initiative is that this is a direct reflection of shoppers’ demand. Brands are being forced to address issues of sustainability and ethics because YOU are demanding it. This is important to recognize and to celebrate… not that they are doing something about it, but that your shopping habits are forcing their hand.
Way to go!
The shadow side to this shift in thinking and action on the part of fashion brands is that many are really doing the bare minimum, while boldly claiming far greater impacts than are actually occurring. A common example: many fashion brands will launch one organic cotton collection and pat themselves on the back for how great they are at sustainability, while 95+% of the rest of what they produce has no environmental consideration (let alone any mention of the human impacts on people in their supply chain).
So where do we go from here?
Ultimately, it will be the responsibility of the brands to make the commitments that actually matter, and the shoppers to not simply take sustainability marketing phrases at face value. One of the key components to removing uncertainty is to bring in third-party certifications that independently verify the positive impacts a brand is engaging with.
We wanted to highlight 3 separate certifications that we are proud to have, and that should give you confidence when you purchase from KNOWN SUPPLY. We’ll start broadly and then show how each one narrows down and goes deeper into the collective impact of our work.
1) B Corp Certified
Since 2019 we have been B Corp Certified, which is the broadest and most holistic view of our impact. To quote directly from the B Corp website:
“Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.”
This certification looks at the entirety of our organization — both domestically & internationally — to assess the entire social and environmental performance of the company. They set a very high bar for qualifying organizations and they also serve as a tool to identify areas of improvement moving forward.
Additionally, the organization has advocated for new legal structures for corporations that allow purpose to be embedded as a foundational component of a company, as opposed to the old adage of “maximize shareholder value above all else”. And yes, we are structured as a Benefit Corporation in the state of California which will help us to prioritize our impact in perpetuity.
2) Fair Trade Certified
We only engage with two types of production for the entirety of our offering: 1) Fair Trade Certified production, and 2) direct trade with artisan cooperatives we have longstanding relationships with. We’re going to focus on the former due to the fact that it makes up 95% of what we produce.
We set out over 15 years ago to use apparel production as a means to empower people to rise above poverty with our first brand Krochet Kids intl. Today, Fair Trade Certification is one of the main reasons we can continue to scale our work without compromising on those same values.
This certification is many things, including consistent audits of production facilities ensuring health & safety for makers, but one of the things that gets us most excited is their facilitation of the Community Development Funds. In our years of working with marginalized groups we have seen two critical factors emerge as the most important areas of impact: 1) resources (financial and otherwise that allow for independence), and 2) agency (to empowered to make one’s own decisions). As a brand, we pay an additional premium on all our products that go toward the Community Development Fund which provides additional money to be dispersed to makers by way of a vote.
3) GOTS Certified Organic Cotton
As we continue to focus our gaze on more specific areas of certification we want to shed light on the importance of GOTS Certified Organic Cotton. First of all, nearly 90% of all the items we produce utilize GOTS Certified Organic Cotton (while the remainder use other sustainable alternatives like recycled polyester).
One of the biggest criticisms of sustainable and ethical supply chain practices is that the majority of brands focus solely on production, and disregard other activities down the supply chain. One of our favorite parts about GOTS Certification is that it looks at all steps in the processing, manufacturing and trading of organic textiles and grades against strict ecological and social criteria.
This auditing throughout our supply chain gives us great confidence in providing you with the most ethical product that you can feel great about wearing.
BONUS: Remake Seal of Approval
Fortunately for shoppers — as well as brands like us who are using fashion as a force for good — there is an increasing contingent of organizations and advocacy groups that are providing additional tools and further transparency.
Remake is one such group who has created an assessment that holistically evaluates a brand’s impacts across “human rights, climate, water, and waste”. You can view their brand directory HERE and check out the list of fashion brands they have given their seal of approval (including KNOWN SUPPLY, obviously).