Small and Independent Brands: Thriving or Barely Surviving?
By Phoebe J Carney, Contributor
This year, more than ever, it is imperative to support our local communities and those small, independent brands and business that keep them and the people within them afloat.
As 2020 comes to a (very welcome) close, we can see how the pandemic has shattered the livelihoods of so many people and has unapologetically broken-down years and years of hard work that goes into starting and maintaining a business. The realities of how Covid-19 has affected small businesses are all too apparent, costing them roughly £69 billion in total and with 240,000 of them having had to stop their trading. Many will not be able to survive the pandemic at all.
Covid has, however, brought a sense of community and inclusivity like never before. The whole world has had to come together as, for the first time in history, we have globally suffered against something so out of our own control. Smaller brands, businesses and designers are facing a very uncertain future, and so the joint investment from all of us as consumers means that not only will it ensure their survival, it will allow them to thrive.
Supporting small and independent brands is essential for a number of reasons; conserving the environment, encouraging creativity and protecting local economies being three that stand out as crucial.
Authentic and Original
Buying from independent brands gives you a personalised experience that is impossible to get from the big chains and corporate giants that dominate the retail market. There is often only a handful of people working behind these small brands, and so each product is made with care and a passion for delivering something unique. When you buy small, you know exactly who has designed your product and what has inspired them to do so, which creates an individual bond between you and them.
One of our very own designers at LDC, Henrietta O’Connor, has created her brand No Wallflower Project to achieve just this. Her eccentric designs are inspired by the words of Shakespeare, the Elizabethan era and Pre-Raphaelite women
Ethical and Eco-friendly
Sustainability is a significant part of why buying small is so important. We are so often faced with false promises from high-street retailers that their products are ‘sustainable’ and with their consistent denial of unethical working conditions within their factories, and basically just all of your typical greenwashing tactics. Switch to independent brands, however, and you will be faced with transparent supply chains that provide you with all the information about what you’re buying, from where the materials have been sourced and what ingredients are in them, to the names and faces of who has sewn and put them together, to the designer behind it all. They also are more likely to source and manufacture locally, which means there is less transportation and more attention is paid to the workers. Our brands champion conscious consumerism and all adhere to our values, having as minimal an environmental impact as possible.
Supporting Cultures and Communities
Due to independent brands being small and local, they are a means to represent and celebrate certain cultures and give back to communities. Local businesses will use other local businesses to source their materials, transport their goods and so on, which results in the money spent and earned from these businesses remaining in their community. As a result, investing your money into your local businesses is a secure way of contributing to the upkeep of where you and others live and cherish. With all the separation, civil unrest and uncertainty that has defined 2020, coming together is the only option we really have.
One of our brilliant brands, ASIME, is a prime example of using their creativity to give back. Founders Jen Harkness and Georgie Wordley work with their tailors, Aunty and Rita, using local textiles and second-hand denim to create collections in Ghana for men and women. They donate their profits to Dream Big Ghana NGO, striving for a sustainable income for women in the community and proudly representing their country with local fabrics.
It is very apparent, made even clearer thanks to Covid-19, that there needs to be systematic change within fashion in order to combat climate change and protect the garment workers and farmers that are at the core of the industry. If we encourage creativity, protect the planet and support independent, we just might be able to achieve that. We can do this!!
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