Sustainability. This word has been bandied around a lot over the past few years. But do we really know what it means? How can you tell if a product really is sustainable? This is what we will be discussing in this post.
WHAT DOES SUSTAINABILITY MEAN?
It will be lost on no-one that sustainability has become a positive trend. Unfortunately, though, there is a lot of greenwashing involved, and, with all the various campaigns and brands brandishing certifications and claiming environmentally-friendly collections, it is difficult to find one’s bearings.
When we hear the word sustainability we instantly associate it with the environment. But, in actual fact, this term is not only about respect for the planet, but especially entails a new approach to the economy and respect for workers’ rights and the community at large.
If we were to define sustainable fashion, we could say that it aims to establish a harmonious relationship both with the environment (eco-sustainable fashion) and people (ethical fashion).
If a fashion company wants to be sustainable nowadays, it must have a direct, fair and transparent supply chain. The way we see it here at Womsh, the future of fashion must rest on the lives of people who we know and wish to protect. A fashion world in which ethics and sustainability go hand in hand. An example to demonstrate our point? A product might well be made from organic and/or recycled materials, but if the label says ‘Made in’ countries like China, Bangladesh, Vietnam or Cambodia where workers’ rights are not taken into consideration, the people who made your purchase are sure to have been exploited and underpaid. In short, sustainability is never really ‘what it seems’. If you want to know whether a company is truly sustainable, you need to delve deep beneath the surface and find out where and how production activities take place.
THE 6 “W”S OF WOMSH’S SUSTAINABLE FASHION
We amp up stylishness and dial down our impact on the environment. Our sneakers are not just any old shoes, they are the embodiment of a brighter future. The questions you will find inside each product description online track the entire life cycle of every single piece of footwear, from the time of creation to the end product. So, it isn’t an ordinary label, it’s an actual identity card that will give you the lowdown on the whole process!
- What is it made from?
We pick out clothes, shoes and accessories from our wardrobe day after day… yet have you ever wondered what they are made from? We have! This is why supply traceability is one of the cornerstones upon which our production system rests. It also means that consumers like yourself know exactly what happened to the product before it comes to you. This is also why all Womsh shoes have a QR CODE giving access to a Blockchain system that details and certifies each of our actions, initiatives, material sourced or supplier used.
Organic and recycled cotton, Appleskin, recycled PET, waste leather and FSC certified paper: all the materials used to make our footwear and packaging are underpinned by sustainable characteristics and are based on sustainable procurement and processing methods. What’s our final objective? To eventually reach the stage when we use only waste or recycled materials for a softer footprint on the planet!
- Where was it made?
Our footwear was made entirely in Italy both in terms of assembly process and the original source of the raw materials. But let’s rewind slightly. What exactly do we mean by Made in Italy? Not everyone will be aware that there are two kinds of “Made in Italy”. Ordinary “Made in Italy” and “100% Made in Italy” subject to more stringent regulations. According to art 16 of Italian Law 166 of 2009 only products entirely made in Italy (that is, conceived, designed, manufactured and packaged in Italy) can be defined as: 100% Made in Italy.
On the other hand, the first kind of “Made in Italy” is contemplated by section 24 of Reg. 2913/92 and, basically, it means that some products are said to be “Made in Italy” because substantial transformation has taken place in Italy although the raw materials actually come from foreign nations. Or, it can even mean that raw materials and finishes are Italian-made, but other stages of the production process occur in places outside Italy. It’s a subtle yet substantial difference, isn’t it?
Womsh footwear, on the other hand, doesn’t need to cross the ocean and pollute the environment to reach you! Transport has a massive impact on the environment as well. Have you ever considered that?Our sneakers have got a well-defined and transparent supply chain; we can pinpoint the exact origin of each single component: they are 100% Made in Italy.
But there is another advantage. The fact that our shoes are produced entirely in Italy does not only ensure the quality of the materials and the precision of Italian manufacturing, it also allows us to keep a close eye on the working conditions provided by our suppliers. This is the only way to make sure that the rights of all our workers are properly respected.
- Who made it?
Think about it. When we see a pair of shoes that we like, the first thing we tend to say is “where did you get them?”. But why don’t we wonder who made them? It is important to us to put a face to those who produce our sneakers; to recognise the intrinsic value of the people who work for us and with us. It is no less fundamental for us that our products are made in healthy environments and that no-one is exploited. This is why all of Womsh’s product descriptions bear the name of the person who made your pair of sneakers!
- What conditions did the person work in?
Creating value and ploughing it back into the local area and community is what a fashion company should do nowadays. This is why we have chosen a business model that is as ethical and inclusive as possible. One that respects everyone involved and envisages a future where everyone is gratified. Our people work in complete safety on company premises that are ISO9001, ISO14001 and SA8000 certified, a form of accreditation guaranteeing that workers’ rights in the footwear sector are protected.
- Was the worker paid adequately?
Have you ever wondered why the prices of some products are so low? When an item has an extremely low price, it means that someone else is paying the penalty – it is almost invariably the workers who suffer the consequences. Many fashion brands that claim to be sustainable use outsourced manpower with workers who have no rights and toil for a pittance.
This doesn’t happen at Womsh and it never will. All our workers earn a minimum living wage, meaning that they make enough to enjoy a satisfactory standard of living.
- How can we plough back part of the profits in order to benefit society as a whole?
The ultimate aim of all of our projects and initiatives is to restore to the Planet that which we owe it. How?
- Since 2014, we have taken part in Impatto Zero®, a LifeGate project which allows us to protect and create new forestland in Italy, Costa Rica, Madagascar, Bolivia and Panama, offsetting the CO emissions released into the atmosphere by our production activities.
- We take part in the “Betty’s Garden” initiative, a scheme backed by ESOsport: we ask our customers and dealers to return used footwear to the shop, or to our company premises, so we can recycle it. A special treatment turns the rubber from Womsh sneakers into a material that can be deployed to make non-slip fall-protection surfacing for children’s playgrounds. Furthermore, we offer a €10 voucher towards the purchase of a new pair of shoes for anyone who wants to take part in this scheme.
- For Black Friday, we chose to donate 30% of profits of our online sales to One Tree Planted, a non-governmental organisation that works to protect our Planet’s wooded areas. The result? 800 trees were planted in Iceland in 2021.
If any of our products falls short of our own principles, we wouldn’t be so barefaced as to mention the word sustainability. Or we would make sure that it didn’t happen in the first place!