Our Policy on Social and Environmental Responsibility in Fashion
Sustainable fashion isn’t just scratchy hemp pants and shirts anymore. It is a movement and process of fostering change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. Sustainable fashion concerns more than addressing fashion textiles or products. It comprises addressing the whole system of fashion. The time has come to embrace clothing that is sustainable and eco-friendly. At espy, we have always taken steps to stay ahead of the “trend”, do what’s right, support local, independent business as well as support companies with high standards, effective protective policies towards their workers, and the environment as a whole.
Many of the brands we carry are manufactured and designed in Canada and follow Canadian labour standards and regulations.
Factory and Apparel Worker Health and Safety
espy deals with reputable companies in Canada and all over the world trusting they ensure acceptable working environments for their factory workers. We cannot and have not audited all of the factories of these manufacturing facilities as this is simply not feasible. Owner/Proprietor Megan Szanik has visited many of the factories in Brazil, Canada and the United States and can personally attest to their conditions. espy believes that the only way that consumers can be sure of social responsibility is to shop local, and buy Canadian.
Environmental Responsibility in Fashion
The fashion industry is one of the largest waste contributors to the environment. Specifically “fast fashion” can be blamed with cheap trends that are worn once or twice and then thrown away. With a focus on body type styling, we instead pay more attention to fit on the body than the latest fashion. We look for ways to incorporate trends into body type styling that works for the person in front of us. At espy, we believe that style is eternal and owning clothing that fits and flatters you is always in fashion. We discourage fast fashion. Instead, we speak to investment dressing and educate you on how to wear the pieces from espy in multiple ways. As an end result, items purchased from espy stay in your closet for the long term.
For environmental responsibility in manufacturing and design, we encourage consumers to look to brands that are making conscious, ecological choices and building their brands on eco-friendly concepts.
Traditional denim manufacturing can use over 300 litres of water to wash a single pair of jeans. Currently, all the denim brands we carry in-store use under a litre of water to wash a single pair of jeans. Brands like KOI, Boyish and AG are all net waterless- using lasers and recycling all their water on-site at production. Brands like Fidelity, Mavi, Paige and Frame are now moving into waterless production and individual styles are marked denoting this process. Most of our denim brands are using also using further eco materials like organic cotton, recycled cotton and elastane in their production.
Through our purchases, we can make a positive difference for the people that make the shoes we wear every day and ensure they have fair wages and environmentally safe working conditions.
Within our footwear offering, we have been lucky to visit some of our factories like Luz Da Lua in Brazil which has its own on-site water recycling and plant-filled worker lounges. We have also seen factories choosing low emission glues for our products and ensuring ventilation is above standard for their workers like at Lorraci, also in Brazil. Spanish-Brazilian brand Caboclo has developed at a technique to shave off old tires bottoms destined for the landfill and instead make the soles of their handmade artisan shoes with them. OANON from Italy uses only vegetable dye and little or no glue to create their shoes and no synthetic fibres are used even in hidden places like toe and back reinforcements. We look for vegetable dyed leathers instead of chrome and tend to choose all-natural leathers instead of synthetics almost exclusively.
For shoe sustainability and environmental responsibility, we’ve broken it down to 3 main components we believe take precedence.
1. Sustainability Through Efficiency
We continually seek out manufacturers that optimize energy and consumption efficiencies. We recognize that even a small adjustment to the way things are usually done can result in large environmental gains and cost savings for both espy and our clients further down the supply chain. We look for shoemakers and manufacturers that:
- Conserve energy through the development of new technologies and redesign existing ones to create cost-effective improvements.
- Innovate to optimize and create shoes that are easier to make, better to wear and last longer.
2. Sustainability Through Materials
Every material used in the shoemaking process should have a genuine eco story and reason for its intended use. We look for shoemakers and manufacturers that use materials that are:
- Natural: The use of leathers from wild roaming cattle and sustainably tanned hides that minimize water and chemical usage along with sustainably sourced natural yarns and materials like cork.
- Recycled: The use of recycled PET and rubber compounds where possible in order to minimize the use of virgin materials while maintaining high levels of performance and durability.
- Durable: Making a shoe last a long time is a fundamental part of sustainable shoemaking. Manufacturers should only use virgin materials when there are not alternatives available that offer extreme durability.
- Local: Where possible manufacturers make sure that the materials they select are as close to the shoe factory in order to reduce unnecessary transport and emissions.
3. Sustainability Through Product Life
We’ve sought out manufacturers and shoe brands that produce products that last.
- Product Durability: Products that do not last are thrown away quickly and end up in a landfill. While making and designing shoes that last longer is a unique challenge, we look to shoemakers and manufacturers who are continually working to set new standards and extend product life in every shoe they make.
espy encourages our clients to educate themselves (your espy stylist can assist) on sustainable and biodegradable fabrics like bamboo, tencel, modal, cupro, and lyocell. We also encourage clients to wear earth-friendly natural and breathable fabrics that are naturally biodegradable like cotton, linen, and silk and when possible choose organic versions of these fabrics. Many of espy’s brands are also using recycled fibres in their clothing, you will see recycled cotton and polyester at espy.
When the consumer is interested in a brand, it is their responsibility to investigate, conduct the necessary research, and make their determination if they fit their personal criteria for being socially and environmentally responsible. The espy stylists can provide a wealth of knowledge about each brand but cannot possibly know everything about the brand’s supply chain, manufacturing process or environmental and social policies
With that said, espy always deals with reputable companies and promote social responsibility in our business through our own policies and commitments to our community. This is one of the many reasons we prefer to buy and support Canadian businesses.
It is always refreshing to see consumers looking beyond trends in fashion and instead at how their choices affect the greater society as a whole.