Learn to shop with a conscience

Learn to shop with a conscience

As shoppers, we’re all becoming more and more aware of the downsides of fast fashion: environmental degradation, labor issues. Buying from ethical brands seems like an answer, but it can be difficult, if not impossible, to understand what it means when a company claims to be “sustainable”. Ana Kannan, founder of the luxury e-commerce platform TOWARD, has come up with her own solution.

Kannan’s upbringing inspired his passion for sustainability. Her car seats were leather, her entire family was vegetarian, and her mother always emphasized keeping clothes in your closet for as long as possible. She went to the University of Southern California to study STEM, but when she took a course on sustainability in fashion, her mental wheels started turning.

“I found myself asking questions,” says Kannan, “like what percentage of [a brand’s] supply chain really trace? Are these materials really certified responsible? What stops a brand from lying? And I realized that there had to be some kind of space where brands could be independently vetted, and consumers could trust that those brands were really responsible.

To the fall lookbook

She created TOWARD to tackle this mission. On the website, TOWARD’s clothes strike a delicate balance between earth tones and more modern hues — think sleek babydolls, wide-leg pants and puffy pastel baby bags. The digital store has tabs titled Clothing, Shoes, and Bags & Accessories like any shopping platform, but it also offers consumers a Responsibility tab, describing what sustainability means to the company. Kannan says that for her, the term responsibility goes far beyond just sustainable branding. “It really refers to the holistic impact of each element of the supply chain. Our framework is how we assess whether a brand is right for us,” she says.

To help conduct this assessment, the TOWARD team has developed nine pillars to assess all areas of a brand’s sustainability, ensuring that every designer TOWARD wears meets its standards. These pillars include worker rights, organics, water conservation and animal welfare.

To ensure a brand is responsible enough to join TOWARD’s platform, Kannan’s team, in conjunction with environmental experts, created over 100 questions for each brand to answer with documentary evidence. From this sustainability questionnaire, TOWARD determines which of its nine pillars the brand meets and whether it can be included on the site.

two models stand in the greenery one wears a brown jumpsuit and the other a long silver dress

To the fall lookbook

Not only do these pillars act as markers for brands driven by TOWARD, but, as Kannan explains, they also act as a roadmap for all brands “as they seek to improve their responsibility practices in the future. . They can see, ‘What pillars am I excelling in right now? What pillars should I work on?’ and they can then adapt and adjust their plans in the future. Her company is successfully setting a universal standard of sustainability for the fashion world, while educating luxury consumers on brand transparency and accountability.

In addition to opening its first store on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, TOWARD has big plans for the future. Staying committed to sustainability means going back and forth with our world, and, says Kannan, “We are currently working on revamping our accountability framework based on the most up-to-date climate information and all the sustainability research. »

She hopes TOWARD can act as a “one-stop shop for buying fashion and beauty responsibly”, but she also sees it as a resource for anyone who wants to update their knowledge. The hope is that consumers will be inspired to move fully into the sustainable fashion space.

ana kannan

Ana Kannan

“I’m very excited for the future of sustainable fashion,” Kannan said. “I believe transparency is the number one priority in fashion. If brands aren’t able to disclose anything and everything about their practices, then it’s harder to trust them. So I guess a very transparent future for fashion – a future where all brands use the latest and greatest materials and innovation, and really move the needle towards a more responsible future.

You can shop TO here. To get you started, these picks are some of Kannan’s current favorites on his site.

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