• Sarah Hudson

Storytelling, values and themes: marketing fair fashion in the UK

In the past ten years, UK consumers have been purchasing more and more sustainable fashion as their concern for the environment and human rights grows. They are better informed than ever and routinely carry out research online in order to check out the ethical and ecological credentials of the companies they plan to buy from. They are not so willing to be fooled by slick marketing campaigns and are beginning to realise that buying expensive luxury brands does not necessarily guarantee quality or sustainability. In light of this, companies need to find authentic and effective ways to engage with their customers.

A good way to capture the heart of the British fair fashion consumer is through storytelling. A number of British fair fashion companies are doing a good job of explaining their values and ideas through the stories they tell on their websites, blogs and via social media platforms. A good example is the company Vildnis which has a “Stories” section on its website which has a travelogue-type feel to it. Stories about different locations, including Chile, Finland and Costa Rica, are used to describe the different elements which have inspired the label’s collections.

Other companies focus squarely on specific values to ensure customers fully understand what the company stands for. A good example is the company ILK + ERNIE which describes itself as a ‘female-led’ brand. They believe that the current crisis in fashion is a feminist issue because the majority of people that are being exploited are women. They clearly spell out their social and political values on their website and through the types of events they attend. Another company, Gung Ho, centres each of their clothing collections around a “talking point”, for example, one collection is called “Food for Thought” which examines the impact food supply chains have on the environment. When you buy an item of clothing you get a fact book about the issue and a donation to a relevant charity is included.

It is likely that many ethical fashion brands would shy away from appearing overly commercial, however, one British company is proving that the two things do not have to be mutually exclusive. Vegan footwear manufacturer Po-Zu is using an interesting marketing strategy designed to attract different types of customers. They have produced an attractive line of vegan footwear under licence with Disney/Lucasfilm. Their boots and sneakers are inspired by some of the lead characters from the Star Wars films.

It is therefore possible to use different types of strategies to appeal to the well-informed British consumer who is more willing than ever to take on board meaningful and engaging messages.