Simply Business - SME and Sustainable Fashion
Simply business approached us for an interview to discuss the rise in sustainable fashion SME's, sparked by the recent eBay/Love Island partnership and the results of research they have undertaken which shows an increased volume of searches for sustainable fashion online.
As a side note - none of the below could be done without our wonderful supply chain and we would never gate keep. If you need advice for getting started, please do reach out and we are here to help make a difference.
What is your shop location and website?
Our first store is located in Northwich at Riverside Organic Farm.
The website is ryde.store.
How many years have you been trading as a fashion outlet (including under any other brands as well as an independent)?
I have been trading as an independent fashion outlet for around 6 months. In that time I have launched a website, opened a shop and been stocked in other independent retailers across the country. I say ‘I’ but the whole process involved a lot of supportive and creative individuals. The launch has been fast paced but the idea for Ryde began years ago. It’s something that has grown with me throughout my life as I love the outdoors, travel, wellbeing and the tonic of nature - I just wanted to wait for the right time, supply chain and opportunity to make sure that even though I was a new business, I had good sustainable foundations.
Have you seen an increase in demand for sustainable options in your store?
Yes. Sometimes customers will buy for example, - loungewear and comment on how soft the fabric is. They are then doubly pleased when they find out it’s eco organic cotton. The majority of the time though, especially in the store - people will come in and ask about our supply chain and really want to understand both the brand story and our values. Then they’ll start browsing. Conversation first, product after.
In your experience, are people willing to pay more for ethical fashion? How much more (in terms of %)?
It varies. The most difficult part of retail is getting the price right in a way that feels fair to the customer. Our business model is very transparent and a big part of the brand is encouraging people ‘into the outdoors’.’ It’s important to me to make products accessible, whilst also promoting sustainability. In my experience, the outdoor/travel community our products attract are willing to pay more for ethical fashion that is built to last. In the words of one customer ‘fast fashion is dying, it’s killing people and our home.’ If you spend a lot of time outdoors, as a rule you tend to care about the environment and need your gear to withstand the elements. I would say there is still work to do with fast fashion as whilst there may be good intentions, personal finance is a big factor.
However I do believe that with buying behaviours, just like the vegan/vegetarian industry - the more consumers are exposed to brands trying to do their bit, the easier the choice.
Do you think that being an SME makes it easier or more difficult to source sustainable options?
In my experience as an SME, timing and finance are the biggest factors for sustainable options. Before launching the brand, I spent a lot of time, energy and money making sure my supply chain was ethical and basically did what they said they were going to do. This involved meeting in person and forming relationships, countless hours researching and sourcing sustainable fabrics. It would have been easier and less expensive to use cheaper, non-ethical materials and overlook things like fair working policies to get the ball rolling but that didn’t sit right with me and I wanted to start as a I meant to go on.
I’m always very transparent in that Ryde isn’t perfect and even with all the legwork, we still have a long way to go in fine-tuning our sustainable offerings. If every business and brand had the best intentions - the outcome would be hugely positive.
I would say the bigger your platform, the more resources you have to get it right.
Are there any sustainable/ethical items in particular which you have seen flying off the shelves?
We have an outerwear range that is built on the idea of ‘Whatever The Weather.’ It’s built to last… and far more reliable than the weather 😂 This has been really popular based on the idea of buy once, buy right rather than buy cheap and buy it twice.
Our loungewear is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Certified and undergoes a carbon process that means it is super, super soft and warm. This has been really popular because the quality is high, it’s durable, ethical with an accessible price tag.