Picture this. It’s 36 degrees Celsius. You have your book, some chilled fruit, maybe a jug of Pimms and your new swimming costume. It’s a perfect day at the beach.
But when you get home and put on your washing, you unwittingly unleash more than 700,000 microfibres into the environment, polluting that pristine beach you were swimming at earlier.
This is the problem the founder and owner of sustainable swimwear brand, Bombshell Swimwear, Emily Doig wants to fix.
“I don’t think sustainability will be considered a luxury in the future,” she told Yahoo Finance.
As she tells her customers, the amount of plastic waste and non-biodegradable rubbish dumped into the oceans every year is 34 times the size of Manhattan.
“All businesses will have to learn to integrate it [sustainability] in the next few years,” she said.
“It will be the future of business and retail. We have started to see this with food, as people are wanting better quality and more ethical produce, same for consumer goods and fashion.”
Bombshell Swimwear is a sustainable fashion brand with a dual process; create beautiful products in a closed-loop process (that means no waste), and make women feel good about themselves.
“Our purpose is: to make women feel good,” Doig writes on her website.
“Our mission is: to impact 10,000 women and create a sense of belonging through thoughtful design.”
Bombshell Swimwear is made from reclaimed waste, gathered by eco-group Nylon 6, in the United States, Greece, Egypt, Norway and Turkey. The waste includes old carpeting, industrial plastic waste, fishing nets and discarded yarns. The waste is purified and turned into textile yarns which the garments are made of.
However, it’s not easy.
Three in five small businesses are reporting flat or declining revenue growth year-on-year, as shoppers shop at small businesses less, new research from American Express reveals.
For Doig, her biggest challenges are “being seen and heard” in a market dominated by big players while simultaneously supporting women.
She says the fashion industry has a “conflict”; it makes some women feel bad about themselves.
“We need to be mindful when creating content for our swimwear to not make women feel negatively about themselves – which is a challenge we constantly face,” she said.
Responding to questions on how a sustainable fashion brand can compete in a trend-driven, and naturally wasteful, industry, she said building a brand that resonates with an audience is critical.
“There will always be people who want trend-based products but there will also be people that appreciate value and values,” she said.
“By creating a compelling brand, it will resonate with people and they won’t necessarily want to shop elsewhere as they know you are a brand for them.”
The next steps are to harness the growing interest in sustainable fashion, Doig said, noting the brand’s continuous two-year growth streak.
“We have a great loyal customer base due to their beliefs around sustainability and in our brand,” she said.
“We are excited about continuing to change people’s preconceived ideas on what sustainable fashion is and show it is accessible for most people.”
Is sustainable the new sexy?
Actress and humanitarian Emma Watson in March partnered with Vogue Australia and sustainable fashion app, Good on You, to guest edit Vogue Australia’s first issue dedicated to sustainable fashion.
Within months, Elle Australia followed suit. And, newly-minted royal Meghan Markle and her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton have both promoted sustainable fashion, with Markle wearing New Zealand brand Maggie Marilyn just this week.
Major designers like Stella McCartney are also onboard. McCartney, whose designs are worn by the likes of Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow was one of the earliest movers.
But being sustainable isn’t exclusive to celebrities. Aussie favourite Witchery scored well on the Good on You app, which measures brands on their sustainability and social qualifications.
Sisters are doing it for themselves
These day, Australian women are more likely than men to aspire to owning and running a small business, the American Express research, The Economy of Shopping Small: Back your Backyard report also revealed.
Doig puts this down to heightened visibility.
“Women are becoming more aware that it is possible for them to own and run a business, in the past it seemed more unattainable for women, but they are now seeing other women and their peers create successful businesses – giving them the confidence they may need.”
There’s hope, but there are also major hurdles. Three in five small businesses are reporting flat or declining revenue growth year-on-year, as shoppers shop at small businesses less.
Small businesses need backing, the vice president of small businesses at American Express, Lisa Belcher said.
“This research is a timely reminder that none of us can take small businesses for granted and that every dollar spent with a small business counts,” Belcher explained.
“Each and every one of us can make a difference by ensuring ‘shopping small’ is part of our regular shopping routine.”
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