The sad truth is, your favorite brands might be responsible for a slew of negative environmental consequences you weren’t ever even aware of. For anyone who wishes to be a responsible consumer, research on many companies might prove futile, as it could be very difficult for you to find out exactly what goes on behind the scenes.
You may know what you’re buying or what materials are in your products, but it’s rare that you’ll know exactly how your favorite clothes came to be. Were all the components of said product locally sourced? Even though the price tag might be on the lighter side, did it take a village of overworked laborers overseas to allow a corporation the luxury of selling you everything at a fraction?
In a recent study published by Greenpeace, some of the world’s most recognizable fashion labels were either lauded or scrutinized for their environmental efforts… or lack thereof. Greenpeace used three main criteria for judging these titans of industry, including each company’s “Manufacturing Restricted Substances List” which sets priorities for eliminating dangerous substances from their lines, their discharge of “perfluorinated compounds,” and the company’s transparency of supplier lists.
The most praised and bold brands included H&M (who recently banned perfluorinated compounds) and Zara — while brands like Armani, Gap, Versace, and Hermès were among the labeled “toxic addicts” that refuse to adapt to the necessary eco initiates of today’s climate.
For a society so obsessed with making sure everything we own propels our health needs, some tend to forget the economic or environmental needs of the community around them. Who can you really trust? It may be daunting to find a fashion brand that ticks all of the boxes behind the scenes, but that’s where Rêve En Vert comes in. This London-based boutique proudly promotes designers (including their own brand, REV) who make it their mission to supply sustainable luxury fashion.
While many studies focus on the types of corporate initiatives brands take to eliminate hazardous chemicals in their products or the environmental initiatives in their supplier’s practices, Rêve En Vert goes beyond the expected and lists additional ways their carefully curated products support various causes. For starters, each fashion line available on the website only uses organic materials and fair labor practices. Additionally, all beauty products listed are made with cruelty-free alternatives. Rest assured, you won’t find a single authentic leather belt for sale. Instead, you’ll see accessory lines that use vegetable-tanned leathers and other vegan items instead.
It can be argued that Rêve En Vert’s ethical approach, according to a Business Insider article detailing trends of 2019, will soon be a worldwide practice, proving the new boutique may pave the way for other companies to take initiative. However, the fashion industry isn’t the only sector attempting to change its outdated ways. “Some movements start as trends, then become necessities,” states a 2019 Whole Foods press release sent to their arsenal of eco friendly brands.
Unlike other companies that specialize in sustainable wear, with Rêve En Vert you never need to sacrifice style and prestige. Feel free to swap out your big label designer-wear for a comparable guilt-free alternative. For handpicked products, peruse through founder Cora’s Green Wish List or look through other collections for inspiration.
Rêve En Vert is clean in both their methodologically and their stylistic aesthetic. Their impressive collection boasts everything from minimalist outfits to beauty must-haves. It’s an avenue to shop around for unique items you can’t easily get anywhere else, with the added bonus of having a clear conscience with every purchase.
That being said, the biggest debate with bold business initiatives like Rêve En Vert is the price tag. The complaint is understandable, but ultimately, irresponsible.
From an economic standpoint, the likes of Amazon, Bloomingdales, and other department stores have driven individual business owners out of the market, which has begun to eradicate the accessibility of venture capitalism for the ‘everyday’ man. It’s a problem we face now more than ever, and it comes down to the consumer’s choices to ultimately inform the market with what kind of economy we want to live in.
Put simply, the most effective way to combat the monopolization of retail is to support individual businesses, and in some cases, sacrifice an extra couple dollars to support the carbon neutral program — heftier price tags in the name of the environment are worth every penny.
When we support companies like Rêve En Vert our dollars aren’t feeding a void, but rather making a statement that we want other stores to follow suit. At the end of the day, people will do whatever it takes to attract customers and increase their revenue. So if the interest in eco-friendly practices carries into profit, you can rest assured that a new wave of responsible business practices will follow — not because they care, but because you told them to.
Sonia Gumuchian is a writer and filmmaker from Vancouver who holds a BFA in Writing for Screen & Television from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Her past scripts have won awards at international film festivals, while her written articles have been featured in various magazines. Her short film, Home Entertainment, is currently on the festival circuit.