People discover ethical and sustainable fashion in many different ways. Miles and the Innerstand team set out to make cool t-shirts but quickly discovered some upsetting truths about the apparel industry, which led to a dramatic shift in their business model.
Now, they’ve got ambitious plans to change their local community, and the future of ethical fashion, and they want to help the next generation of consumers understand the power of their purchasing choices too.
In our latest “Brands We Love” feature, Miles tells us all about his journey into ethical fashion…
What first inspired you to launch Innerstand Clothing?
In all honesty, Innerstand was originally an idea to make some interestingly designed printed t-shirts.
It wasn’t until we were looking at the options of the base top that we discovered that there were suspiciously cheap tops and much more expensive ones that didn’t look massively different.
That got us suspicious; so we did our research and discovered the horrific truths behind these cheap t-shirts. We knew we couldn’t support that so decided to dramatically shift from just wanting to make cool tees, to creating an ethical and sustainable clothing company with goals to educate and inspire positive change.
Your brand is all about making a difference, how do you do that?
First and foremost the difference is in our clothing.
Being the ethical option that doesn’t have to compromise style mean more people can influence positive change in the clothing industry without feeling “boring” or “like a hippy” – stereotypes all of us in ethical fashion are trying hard to get rid of! Just looking at one of our social media channels you will know we are different.
Rather than promoting our products in every image, we also have inspirational, motivational and thought provoking quotes. This is because we are not just selling clothing – we are selling a way of life, empowerment to become the best version of yourself.
We have also found our supported charity – The Children’s Air Ambulance, who we support wholeheartedly.
They transfer critically ill children who are unlikely to survive hospital transfers, or the specialist teams required to urgently treat them, by helicopter.
They are entirely funded by donations so we donate 10% of our profits to them and try to raise awareness for them wherever we go – they are very new (like us) and can use all the help, support and donations they can get!
What does ‘ethical fashion’ mean to you?
This can be answered in a million ways as there are so many angles to take, but what we think is that if you analyse everything that goes into getting the customer their top and any part of it makes you think “that poor person”, “that’s not right” or “it’s still that barbaric that in the 21st century”, then chances are it is not ethical fashion.
We think that everything from the crop rotation on the cotton farm to ensure the longevity of the soil, to the packaging we send our clothes out in, should be ethical and not have a lasting negative impact on people or the planet.
How do you make sure your supply chain is ethical?
One thing we focused on to start with was certificates. Before we talked to anyone we wanted to see certificates.
For example, our garment supplier have to have GOTS, OCS 100, OCS Blended and other certificates. Then we found out about the Fair Wear Foundation and it then became clear to us that although certificates were a good starting point, they didn’t really cover the ethics – they were more about sustainability.
We then ensured that our suppliers had the seal of approval from the Fair Wear Foundation, which is an independent body that ensures ethical and fair labour standards are met.
On top of this, we believe that communication is very important and establishing a connection with the suppliers – this has helped us feel confident that they are true to their word.
You do a lot of work with the local community and charities, why is that important to your brand?
Honestly, we like to focus on what we can influence and we know that we can influence our local community – even if it is only slightly at the moment.
The reason we support charities is that they have the capacity to help people outside of our small sphere of influence – this allowing both us and our customers to benefit people on a much larger scale.
Deciding which charity to mainly support was tough – with so many to choose from, but we contacted some and discussed how we could work together and really felt the love and support of the Children’s Air Ambulance which made us choose them.
As mentioned above, they fly children (or specialist teams to treat them) that need urgent care between facilities. Helping the most vulnerable and in-need children in the UK really is an important cause in our opinion.
We visited them earlier this year and they are such a passionate bunch of people! Meeting everyone there and talking to all of the different teams including the pilots was amazing.
Everyone had such a passion for their part in the wonderful job they do that they became the easy choice.
Why do you think ethical and sustainable fashion is important?
We can go into the data and point out hundreds of reasons why ethical and sustainable fashion is not only important but vital for us to continue to enjoy fashion as we do for years to come, but that is what everyone talks about so let’s not repeat them.
Honestly, for us it is about people. Put yourself in the shoes of a garment worker in India or Bangladesh who has gone to work for £52 per month (the current minimum wage for a garment worker in Bangladesh) – as her mother did, and her mother before her.
Someone who has fainted at work due to having no breaks, someone who does 14 hour shifts and then has to go home and do the housework, someone is just surviving.
Then imagine that you have the power to take her out of there and give her, and her entire family, a new life. Better working conditions, fair pay, real job security and the ability to spend quality time with her children for the first time in generations.
You don’t have to imagine – this is the power we all have as companies but more so as consumers.
By shopping ethically you are supporting this shift and it could be said for every top bought you are helping to change the world for a family.
What are your plans for the future?
Right now we are working on telling the story behind the all of our designs and the people that made them happen – we feel this will help connect people to our designs and should allow people to feel much more connected to us as a company.
We would like to take education into schools across England, giving talks to the future generations on why shopping ethically is important, and how to do it and still keep your style (which undoubtedly will have to include some cross promotion!)
Eventually we would like to help support summer holiday activities in schools in disadvantaged areas to keep kids off the streets and doing something productive – something that I had one summer as a child and will never forget.
Our next big goal comes in the form of having our own factory with our own hand-picked supply chain. Currently,we use the capacity of a larger ethical factory (which took a long time to source!)
The expansion of our range to include more accessories, shirts and more! As we are about timeless style, not trends or seasons, this will be a development on what people love – not chasing the next “in” thing.
Another development we are looking into is the use of Hemp as we know it to be better for the planet. We have had some difficulty replicating the soft touch that organic cotton has given us, but we are working on launching a Hemp line!
The list could go on for a long time as we are very ambitious – at this moment we are trying to focus on building a community of people who support us to help us towards these goals.
We love Innerstand’s passion for social causes and raising awareness of ethical issues – and it’s great to see such an ambitious young brand! Miles has kindly sent me an Innerstand tee so watch this space for a new post soon, I’ve got an exciting ethical fashion challenge coming up…
In the meantime, get your hands on your very own Innerstand garment and support their great causes too. You can even get 15% off (even on sale items!) – just visit their online store and use code LITTLELOTUS15 at the check out!
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