As Fashion Revolution Week continues on (I have a more in depth post on the week in a few days, when I’m jet lag free and more coherent) I thought I’d use todays post to talk about something I don’t cover often on this corner of the internet, mens clothing.
Whilst I’m not really one to prescribe to ideas about gendered clothing (I think anyone should shop in any section they like), it’s true that there are plenty of people out there who want to shop in mens sections or for clothing with a ‘male’ cut. It’s also true that, on the surface, options for male ethical clothing seem more limited than female. I think some of this is certainly skewed by the fact that there are more female ethical influencers out there covering women’s sustainable fashion. There are less voices talking less frequently about ethical mens fashion, but it is out there.
And one of my favourite places to get started is Brothers We Stand. It’s another kind of alternative ASOS, in a similar way to Sheer Apparel’s ethical clothing, but this time for all things men. Founded in London, Brothers We Stand is committed to ethical and sustainable principals, transparency, and no greenwashing. I chatted to founder Jonathan Mitchell to learn more about the Brothers We Stand story.
How did you end up in sustainable fashion?
I actually studied International Development at university and didn’t expect to end up in fashion. But I began to notice a small but growing number of menswear designers making great clothes in an ethical and sustainable manner, and I thought it would be great to bring them together and make them easily accessible for people. Prior to that my business experience was selling sweets and fizzy drinks out of my locker at school.
What made you decide to start Brothers We Stand?
I’ve always enjoyed thinking up business ideas and I realised there was an opportunity to create a retailer that made it easy for people to find great, high quality clothes that have still been made ethically. I was pretty naïve when I started, if I’d been more knowledgeable I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to take on the challenge!
What were your main goals when starting the company?
I wanted to make it easy for people, especially men, to find clothes that are ethically made but don’t sacrifice on style or quality!
How did you get started? Did you reach out to a lot of different brands?
I actually spent a really long time researching before launch. It was over a year of planning and writing the business plan. I have a really strict criteria for products I sell on Brothers We Stand and when I found the brands I wanted to work with I spent a lot of time preparing a presentation to share my vision with them. We now work with about 15 brands that share our vision and are creating really special collections.
What criteria do a brand have to meet to be part of your stock?
You can sum the Brothers We Stand criteria up as design, ethics and quality. Products should look good and perform the jobs they were created to do. Then from an ethical perspective we only sell products that have something ‘game-changing’ about them. This could be that a t-shirt is made in a wind-powered factory with a carbon footprint 90% lower than that of a conventional tee or that a wallet is made from 100% recycled fire hose! Every product on Brothers We Stand has a footprint tab where you can access information on its provenance. Quality relates to the fact that we want to provide our customers with products that last, which they can cherish for a long time.
How has the response been so far?
It’s been really good. People are enjoying what we’re doing and sales have been steadily increasing with a very limited marketing budget. I’m so grateful to everyone who’s supported us so far and together we can continue to take things forward! Watch your back ASOS.
Who are your main inspirations?
So many people. Business people like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Blake Mycoskie, Yvon Chouinard. Paul Smith for both the approach to business and design. Artist Lulu May for creating things that inspire and cause people to lift up their heads. VEJA and ECOALF for making beautiful products in a sustainable and ethical way. Uniqlo for creating nice clothes at an accessible price. Mr Porter, ASOS and Zalando for smashing multi-brand retail. Sparks Studio for their insights into branding (and I’ve been very privileged to have their generous help and support with Brothers We Stand).
Maybe I should have some more realistic inspirations but you got to aim for the moon right!
What are your plans for the future?
I’d like to continue to take things forward step by step and steadily add in more products to our collection as we find brands that meet our standards. In other news, we’re pretty far advanced in negotiations to set up a physical space in Bristol so that’s exciting!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just that people should check out the site and pick up something they like when they next need something. The men and women who make our clothes are just like you and I, they have hopes and dreams and we need to stand in solidarity with them and chose to spend our money with brands who respect them. Viva the fashion revolution!
Until next time, stay magic y’all.