Ethical fashion is a discussion we often have behind the scenes here. Much of the world's clothing is made with human trafficking and exploitation at its core. It all seems for nothing, considering our society is wasteful with overconsumption. There has to be a more sustainable way!
The Problem with Cheap Fashion
Close to 85% of purchases in the $2.4 trillion fashion industry are one-time or two-time use purchases. Impulse spending requires brands to provide clothing very cheaply. It fuels human trafficking and child exploitation. However, there is a more sustainable way to have self-expression. People and our planet can be treated with dignity along the way.
Elegantees is Not Fast Fashion
We carefully consider each design to give you the fashion fun you desire, but not too over the top that it'll be cleaned from your closet when a short-lived high is over.
Our most commonly used cotton/spandex fabric was a conventional cotton from India. The only problem was we couldn't trace the specific origin. This kept us up at night because there are too many cases of human trafficking and exploitation in fabric supply. What if the fabric we bought was traced to this?
Then we found Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic cotton suppliers in India. The farmers who grow this cotton do not have to work with harmful chemicals that affect their health. We use organic whenever possible.
We use dead stock fabrics too
For the survival of our company, we can't be exclusively organic. Spoiler alert: We're too small to meet minimums for certain fabrics! Instead of ordering the minimum of 1,500 yards for one stripe color, we'll buy 200 yards in a leftovers market and use it in 1-2 seasons. Otherwise, we'll overproduce to use up raw materials, and it'll be a slow sell having the same stripe for years.
Responsibly using man-made fabrics
Due to availability and fabric ordering minimums, we buy a lot of leftovers fabric locally if they meet our quality standards. Was it ethically produced? Probably not. Was it leftover from a larger company's orders, left for waste? Yes. This is one way we can make a bad thing turn around for good.
We don't overstock - We ensure there's a demand first
We believe if a customer doesn't love a dress enough to buy it at a fair price, then they don't need it. We encourage a smaller closet of pieces you love, instead of a full closet of "bargains" with nothing to wear. For this reason, we're cautious about what we produce. You won't find our clearance selection full of overstocked inventory.
Cutting according to the demand is why our prices seem "too good to be true" to anyone who understands what actually goes into making clothing. We use high quality natural fabrics, we do small batch production, and our wages and workplace is ethical. Our key is conscious cutting.
Conscious Cutting for Less Waste
One thing that makes or breaks our profitability for the season is the quantity we cut initially. We're a fashion company and our success is entirely based on stocking desirable products. If we make too many of a style that is unpopular, cash flow is held up for a long time. But if we make too little of a quantity (such as a made-to-order model), there is a lot of fabric waste. So we found the best middle ground to keep our prices reasonable: Starting off with 50-100 pieces per new design. We restock when a design and color is selling well.
Our Sales Dollars Go Back into Jobs
Elegantees retains 15-20% of gross sales for our operations and staffing in the USA. The larger chunk of our revenue is wired to Nepal to buy more fabric, pay seamstresses and cover operating costs. It's our circle of sustainability.
Slow but Steady Expansion
We are grateful to have a sustainable business that maintains itself year after year. Yet, a fire in our belly rages for more. Human trafficking is a rampant problem in Nepal. A waiting list of hundreds of women survivors in need of a job keeps us with a purpose in mind.
We average a slow increase in demand for Elegantees each year, resulting in a slow and steady growth of more machines being staffed. While we're thankful, we want to see the waiting list get down to zero. Thinking outside of the box and partnering with large retailers is our path. If you'd be interested in helping us expand faster, we'd love to hear from you personally (so reach out today)!
Our Bottom Line -
No matter the direction with sustainability, our mission statement and priority will always be to help empower survivors of human trafficking and those at risk overcome the obstacles they face.