Samstag, 19. Dezember 2009

An interview with Brad of Commerce with a Conscience

Aus Zeitmangel ist es mir leider nicht möglich das komplette Interview zu übersetzen, deswegen stelle ich Brad in einer kurzen Zusammenfassung auf Deutsch vor: Brad schreibt den Blog Commerce with a Conscience – Ethical fashion for the fastididous gentleman (Geschäfte mit Gewissen – ethische Mode für den wählerischen Gentleman). Als ich diesen Blog vor einigen Wochen entdeckte, war ich so beindruckt, dass ich Brad zum ersten Interviewpartner von Shopfair gemacht habe. Er ist 28 Jahre alt und wohnt ihn Chicago. Seine Lieblingsmarken sind A.P.C. (nur für Jeans), Schuhe von Allen Edmonds und L.L. Bean. Ansonsten besteht fast seine gesamte Garderobe aus Secondhand Kleidung. (Eine Fotogalerie seiner Lieblingslooks findet ihr auf Ecouterre).

Auf die Frage „Wie können Fair Trade Modeunternehmen besser mit „normalen“ Modefirmen konkurrieren?“ kam von Brad diese Antwort: Wenn sozial verantwortlich agierende Firmen ernst genommen werden wollen, sollten sie weniger Zeit darauf verwenden ihre Produkte als Vehikel zu benutzen, um ihre politischen Ansichten zu verbreiten. Stattdessen sollten sie daran arbeiten Kleidung zu entwerfen, die auch von Leuten gekauft wird, die nicht nur nach strengen, ethischen Richtlinien einkaufen gehen. Wenn ihr damit zufrieden seid in einer Nische zu bleiben, macht weiter eure scheußlichen Slogan-Tshirts und untragbaren recycelten Fummel. Wenn ihr aber ein breiteres Publikum erreichen wollt, solltet ihr euer Design und eure Ideale als Köder auswerfen.

When I
discovered Commerce with a Conscience - Ethical fashion for the fastidious gentleman a couple of weeks ago I was so impressed that I decided to ask Brad to be Shopfair's first interviewee:

How old are you?


Describe your personal style.
Scruffy Prep? Young American? Heritage Inspired? I'm sure there's some widely agreed upon term for it that I don't know. Lots of raw denim, oxford cloth, waxed cotton, and wingtips. Always wingtips.

One of your regular features is the Monday murse - how many do you own?
Surprisingly, very few. I often think about getting a new bag, but after having written about so many, it's become really difficult to settle on just one, which, unfortunately, is all my budget allows for. Currently, I use a very boring (and very dirty) plain cotton tote as my every day bag. Pretty underwhelming come to think of it.

If you could choose a designer to design/make a capsule collection for you which one would you pick?
This is actually something I've spent a lot of time thinking (fantasizing) about. A co-designed, co-branded organic tote made by L.L.Bean would be pretty amazing. I've also thought about organic plimsolls made by Autonomie Project. Of course, the ultimate dream would be to design a pair of jeans. Or, better yet, co-brand an organic version of an existing pair... I'm looking at you APC.

Favorite brands?
Jeans by APC. Shoes by Allen Edmonds (L.L.Bean in the winter). The rest is pretty much all vintage (I do nearly all of my shopping on eBay). Pendleton, L.L.Bean, Woolrich, etc., all back from when it was still made in the US. I do like a fair number of new brands (Engineered Garments, Rag & Bone, Steven Alan, Albam, Gitman Vintage, to name a few) but they're all totally out of my price range. Also, I prefer to own the items on which the current designs are based; I tend to like the source material more than the modern interpretation.

Favorite (online) shops?
Tres Bien, Oi Polloi, Context Clothing and Opening Ceremony.

What prompted you to start your blog?
I have always derived a weird satisfaction from researching my interests to death. Throughout my life, if something has appealed to me, I have done everything I could to learn as much about it as humanly possible. My brain's just wired that way. Over the last few years, my biggest interest has been ethical fashion, partly because of my own personal politics (I get pretty granola when it comes down to it), and partly because ethically made clothes tend to be of a higher quality (more bang for the buck).

While I really enjoy, and am totally inspired by, a number of menswear blogs, it always bothered me that very few of them ever wrote about where the clothes were made or what they were made out of. And, that almost all of them tended to write exclusively about brands that 99% of people cannot afford. I felt like there was a void in the coverage being offered. So, this was / is my attempt to fill it.

What can Fair Trade / Ethically made Labels improve to better compete with "normal" fashion brands?
In my opinion, if socially responsible brands want to be taken seriously on a large scale, they need to spend less time using their goods as a vehicle to advertise their politics, and more time working on designing clothes that people who don't shop only according to their ethics actually want to wear. If you're content to remain confined to a niche market, then keep making your obnoxious slogan tees and unwearable recycled trinkets. If, however, you want to reach a wider audience, then let your designs by the lure, as well as your beliefs.

I think that a lot of the stigma associated with eco / ethical brands is totally justified. Honestly, you wouldn't believe half the crap that shows up in my inbox. Just because your product has recycled content in it doesn't mean people are going to overlook the fact that it's ugly. It's almost as though these brands use their principles as an excuse to avoid taking note of current trends, thus turning their key selling point into their greatest hindrance, and setting the whole movement back that much further.

Thankfully, there are some brands that are picking up the slack. If there weren't, I wouldn't have anything to write about.

If a friend asked you why they should buy Ethical fashion what do you tell them?
Funnily enough, no friend has ever asked me that. And that's probably for the best. I never, ever want to come off as being didactic (despite my tirade in the previous answer). My beliefs are my beliefs, and I have no desire to force them on anyone, or chastise them for not adopting them as their own. I think there are a lot of excellent reasons to shop ethically, but it depends on the individual. It's up to each person to decide whether or not those reasons are good enough to deprive themselves of the easily obtainable, sweatshop made, must-have trend item or not. I like to think that my job is simply to bring those reasons to peoples' attention.

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