Episode 89: The Transformative Role of Values in the Fashion Industry




Hello and welcome to episode 89 of the Fashion Unearthed podcast. I've been thinking about the importance of today's topic for a while, but I think I was really prompted to talk about it after going to the Global Sourcing Expo in Melbourne recently and I got the chance to hear Claire Press as well as James Bartle from Outland Denim speak and in both of the seminars, values really got spoken about a lot and for me I've noticed values have been coming up a lot in discussions I'm having with business owners and forum discussions I'm watching and I wanted to kind of bring that all together today and talk about some of my thoughts around this topic. 

But first I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has lent me their ears this year and listened to the podcast. It has just meant the world to me to be able to well, I don't know really who's listening unless someone shares it on social media but to be able to see the downloads going up and just to see what people are interested in behind the scenes on the back end of the podcast app has been really motivating and yeah, I know it's a busy world out there, so to be able to spend some time listening to me and the things I've got to talk about and sometimes ramble on about has been, it's been really great and I appreciate it. So thank you. 

So obviously the topic is around values, and it's no surprise that this year has been really uncertain politically, economically and often personally. So I guess thinking about some lofty concepts such as values can be put on the back burner when you're in survival mode and, to be honest, I've been feeling a bit of burnout as well. But now is exactly why values are so important Because when it gets tough, we need to remind ourselves why we're doing what we're doing, and not in a succinct little elevator pitch to hook someone in and sell them something. But what is the burning motivation for doing or creating what you do? Of course, there are a lot of businesses whose only values, it seems to be, is creating wealth and power for one owner, and competing against those can be hard too, but I think for most of us and probably those of you who are listening to this podcast, I would suggest that's not you, and to be really, I guess, tapped into your values can be motivating, but it can also shine a light on where to start when things get tough. What's non-negotiable and how it all fits into that bigger picture, or the contribution that you're trying to make. 

When Clare Press spoke in her seminar, “The Sustainability Agenda: where next?” she asked the audience to close their eyes for a moment and think of three values that come to mind, and I wonder when was the last time you did this? For me it was probably the start of the year and some of them might have changed, and if you go on my website, there are probably, I think, six values that I've listed there. But it was a good chance to just think about those values, there was a slide that she had put up with a lot of different words on it and I just spend some time thinking about if those values were still the values that I wanted to prioritize. In James's seminar, “Fashioning a Sustainable Future: the Outland Denim Story”, he spoke about the positive impact that can be created by empowering people within the supply chain, and it was so evident that his values were embedded in the business model of Outland Denim and he said when you lift one, you lift 10. And he told a beautiful story about how, by helping the person who worked for him, through giving them a job and empowering them, it had a beautiful ripple effect through their family and also their community. It was a very clear example of how a business tapping into their values can really create change and, you know, new worlds for these people that work for them. 

It's evident that Outland Denim is an impact business. They want to create impact. Yes, they're making products, yes, they're using resources, but they're really considering and aligning the decisions and processes to their values. So, when you're reflecting back on this year I know that this year is a time to reflect back on the year that was. I want to make a suggestion to really think about how your work or your product has been aligned to your values and, if not, how do you want to adapt it next year? What do you want it to look like? How do you want it to look different? Because everything that we create and put out into the world is a physical example or model of our values, down to what materials we use, the people who are creating it. It's all a little manifesto of our values packaged up in one product, and customers are wising up. They're very educated on being able to analyze people's websites, look at their actions, look at their products and to be able to assess if everything is in alignment and congruent with what they believe about a business. 

And I just want to talk briefly about one business Well, a couple of businesses I've noticed recently who really go hard on talking about empowerment, empowerment for women and, as you would expect, I do go through websites quite a bit and look at what businesses are talking about and how they're talking about things, and I always keep in mind that there may be something happening behind the scenes that they're not talking about.But I want to mention this particular instance because, yes, there was a lot of talk about empowerment for women, but when I dug through and wanted to see what empowerment looked like, it looked like empowering people from head office only, or people within the head office location or the people around that location. There was no talk around the empowerment of women in the supply chain, who is making their clothes, exactly what they are doing to empower everyone, not just the women, like I said, from the head-off situation with paid parental leave and all those sorts of things, which is great. Obviously we want that and, yes, progress is good and we can't have everything perfectly, but more and more people are becoming really good at looking through people's websites and picking up on the disconnect between what businesses are saying and what actions and for whom that translates to. So just something to think about when you're reassessing your values and, I guess, picturing what that looks like for the whole supply chain, for all of the people who are involved in making your product. 

Finally, I want to wish everyone a very restful break over the holiday season. Make sure to disconnect, sleep in, eat chocolate for breakfast if you need to, and find miraculous moments in slowing down. Nature is never always in productivity mode. Rest is built in and it's so important because we can't create a better world from an exhausted state. 

As always, you'll find the show notes and any links for today's episode on the website belindahumphrey.com in the podcast section, and if you are looking to have a chat with me about all the different ways that I can help your business, I will be back checking emails on the 9th of January, but shoot me an email info@belindahumphrey.com and we can set up a time to chat. Thanks so much for listening. See you next time. 


Disclaimer: Whilst every effort is made to ensure that information is accurate at the time of recording, much like the fashion industry itself, this information may change. 


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