Anthropologie debuts an intriguing new website today, called Made in Kind, to showcase its take on the popular trend for designer collaborations. In a release, Anthropologie states the new online platform will function as a gallery “housing multiple exhibitions per month, each dedicated to a single designer or concept.” Presenting editorial content to go along with the eleven new lines – priced in the $120-$300 range – the collaborations will be available in some stores, online and via the catalog.
Despite featuring small, emerging designers and sustainable brands, including British bohemian brand Place Nationale – makers of one-off garments using European antique fabrics – Brooklyn-based eco fashion designer, Samantha Pleet and John Patrick of Organic, the launch is ambiguous on the subject of it’s sustainability.
Treasure by Samantha Pleet
The eco credentials of the designer’s collaborations with the brand are yet unclear, the decision to avoid tagging the new venture, “ethical,” “conscious” or “sustainable” by Urban Outfitter Inc. owned Anthropologie is interesting.
In contrast, other chain stores are loudly launching eco lines left, right and center. H&M’s exclusive Glamour Conscious Collection – which will be available April 12 in around 100 H&M stores across the globe – has been widely promoted, coming across as an act of contrition for its past year offenses that saw the mega chain accused of not performing proper clothing disposal practices, destroying damaged or unsold clothes that could easily be used elsewhere or recycled for other items.
Why would a company not shout its eco-friendliness from the rooftops? It happens more than you might think. Because of the difficulty in greening every part of the supply chain, the inability to guarantee every factory involved or fabric used (a small amount of bias tape required, for example) along with ethical fashion’s former “granola” reputation – many brands have been shy of admitting their behind-the-scenes green involvement.
Marketing is often accused of selling something people don’t need but the reverse can also be true. Smart companies restructure their offerings to suit customer demand. Hopefully it is only a matter of time before all businesses are competing to be the most ethical. By tapping into the “zeitgeist” that supporting independent designers keeps America’s workers working, Anthropologie is focusing on the growing preference and appreciation for smaller brands.
In her recent article, Could Small be the New Big for the fashion Industry?, Ilaria Pasquinelli explains the recent shift and how “the era of big” has come to an end.” She writes, “Small organisations are often led by visionary product specialists or designers, particularly in the fashion industry. The small scale allows companies to be flexible, this is crucial in order to adapt to very diverse market conditions and economic turbulence.”
Pasquinelli documents case studies where large corporations have successfully collaborated with small fashion businesses as pioneers in sustainability, such as British supermarket Tesco’s in-house brand F&F, which partnered with the pioneering upcycle fashion brand From Somewhere; Levi’s campaign to refit vintage Levi’s 501 in collaboration with Reformation, a fashion brand that repurposes vintage clothing and materials in their studios in New York and Los Angeles; and Worn Again, a tiny company that successfully worked with large corporations such as Virgin, Royal Mail and Eurostar to help them re-use textiles, such as disused uniforms, they would otherwise discard.
Small companies have proven themselves to be leaders in innovation – something desperately needed in order to green the monolithic fashion industry – Made In Kind may well bring a whole new meaning to the popular concept of “designer collaboration.”