Launching a brand that seeks to be ethical and accountable is simpler when focus is placed on the upper end of an industry. Why? Because the clientele will already be accustomed to investing in better quality.
It would be erroneous to assume that a higher price naturally means better quality. That being said, it would be difficult to produce a beautiful product, made from traceable and long-lasting materials, without passing the cost on to consumers. Add a strong ethical underpinning into the mix as well and there is little option but to be proudly high-end, specialist and niche.
Principles are inbuilt into every individual, alongside the free will to live by them or choose a less inflexible moral code. Businesses are built on similar foundations and once it has been decided that ethics need to be at the centre of a brand, they help to dictate launch timescales and target demographics, instantly.
Staying the ethical course
The first thing to remember when looking to launch a new brand is that the defining integrity needs to hold true. This might translate into necessary sourcing of alternative manufacturers for physical products, specialist creative agencies to help craft an overall aesthetic, and even ideologically aligned investors if you are looking to go down that route. All of this will take time.
It can be tempting to rush to launch but cutting corners in a brand’s infancy simply means that the founding vision and company itself is being cheated. After all, to be a truly ethical brand, it’s not enough that strong moral fortitude prevails; every strata of the supply chain needs to be similarly guided by principles because informed consumers will check. It won’t matter that finished trainers are animal-free and more stylish than the latest haute couture mid-heels if a little tentative digging shows that you have been funded by an unethical hedge fund. Recent news stories have shown this to be true, with consumers proving to be guided by their personal beliefs rather than brand loyalty.
Fashion, but make it aspirational
Finally, with a brand formed into a cohesive whole and products launched, appealing to those that aren’t technically your demographic, yet, can become a KPI.
High-end is not the same as unattainable or elitist and with ethics driving a brand forward, it can bring quality and choice to a group of people that have the desire to buy better. This will all hinge on being able to communicate with people in a way that informs and welcomes, without being dismissive. The key is to always be aspirational but also approachable and clearly aligned with those being targeted. This is where super high-end brands fail to connect with a broad range of consumers, as they often overlook those who have to make a concerted effort to be able to afford items from their ranges.
Choosing to reach future brand ambassadors through shared ethical codes and a commitment to a less disposable business model is a positive step forward and allows companies to become synonymous with a slower pace of consumption. Paradigms of sustainability will be shown to be those brands formed on solid moral foundations, staying true to them, even when it cost time or money in the all-important early days of launching.
Ethical and high-end might not have always been a natural pairing — especially within the fashion industry — but attitudes and demands are changing and it’s up to both existing and emerging brands to keep the momentum strong.
Targeting the right consumers
In an ideal world, all consumers would buy with ethics firmly in mind but in reality, we have created a society where ‘more is more’ and less for more is an irreconcilable idea. Naturally, it would be incredible for a sustainable and ethically driven brand to be able to lure budget-conscious shoppers away from the fast fashion powerhouses that care little for quality or conscious production, but money talks. That’s why developing a high-end brand works best for those with strong laudable motivations.
Think about the people who buy from mid to upper designer labels. This is a demographic open to being informed and educated with a view to considering more ethical buying habits because it won’t impact their regular budgets. They would actually be getting more for their money, because aside from a quality garment they will also be endowed with a sense of gratification that comes from supporting a planet-friendly company.