Levelling the playing field…

We wanted to see a fashion industry that doesn’t prioritise the vendor over the maker, with manufacturers valued, visible and vocal.

One of the founding aspirations of RangeRoom was that of ‘Levelling the Playing field’. We wanted to see a fashion industry that doesn’t prioritise the vendor over the maker – where our manufacturers (far and wide) are valued, visible and vocal.

Looking at the roles of the retailers and the makers in the past, we’ve all seen the steep learning and developmental curve that came with rapid globalisation. Somewhere along the line, the balance shifted in ways that challenged these valued relationships. Whilst this clearly isn’t the case for all modern retail relationships, it would be naïve not to recognize that there have been some serious challenges. Some parties have felt that the fight for the margin points has created an antagonistic landscape that pushed partners further away from more collaborative (and ultimately) more sustainable relationships and ways of working.

As global citizens looking at the future of retail and the values that a growing number of consumers are placing on these relationships, we knew that it needed to be addressed in some way and we wanted to provide a channel where this message could be shared. We watch as the Internet democratises so many elements of our lives, so consumers aren’t just concerned with their own societies. Increasingly they’re recognising instead, that we’re all affected by global issues – from environmental to civil and human rights issues. And this is true across ALL industries, not just fashion. This means that ethics and sustainability are no longer fashionable – they’re essential – and crucial if we want to remain relevant as retailers and suppliers and – more importantly – if we want to keep in touch with our humanity.

            This means that ethics and sustainability are no longer fashionable               – they’re essential.

We know it’s better to start – even if it is at the very beginning – rather than not to start at all.

People do care about those reports that expose poor practices in our industry and we need to start owning that if our businesses aspire to be world-class. Surely each of us should aim to claim the challenge and acknowledge the road ahead? It’s not for us to wait for our consumers to demand what they expect of us – it’s for us to be the leaders of change – to become the industry that will be sustainable for all. Idealistic? Not when we think about the fact that smaller brands like Reformation (or thought leaders like Patagonia and Eileen Fisher) are already doing this and they are already setting the bar for the future of brand values.

We know it’s better to start – even if it is at the very beginning – rather than not to start at all. Otherwise, there will be more reasons ‘not to buy’ one brand over another. A large part of that is about supporting our partners in the journey we all have ahead of us and recognising and facilitating positive change that we want you to be a part of it.

We want to play a key part in the rebalancing that dynamic by working with suppliers from across the globe and showcasing their ranges to different and more varied audiences so that the ownership of their product (and practices) would be more pronounced and future proofed. There are many benefits to this approach but two key ideas that have motivated us are:

1) Balance the scales in the fashion industry and reject the more exploitative practices of the past that devalued the work (and by proxy, the communities of those manufacturing areas) largely, but not exclusively, in the developing world.

2) By empowering our manufacturers to have a more direct voice on the RangeRoom platform we are actively supporting and developing their businesses, elevating their visibility and accountability within the manufacturing and retail communities we work with.

We’re also very aware that the suppliers of today are fast becoming the retailers of tomorrow. So by levelling the access to strong networks and technology-driven collaboration the shared intelligence can be tapped not only to grow and strengthen collaborative and sustainable relationships and communities but also elevate the profiles of lesser know suppliers, bringing more diversity and new perspectives into the Fashion Market. It’s also worth considering that the way that RangeRoom has been designed allows transparency of process across the board and so when suppliers are ready to flick the switch to become a retailer they have a digital platform that essentially acts as a forerunner to an e-commerce site. With digital assets already at a high standard (yes we do provide that service too) and the ability to work at a speed-to-market model already in place, and this is a concept that we’re working towards as part of our road-map. So exciting!

We’re keen to elevate visibility and accountability within the manufacturing and retail communities we work with.         Growing competence; confidence; courage and trust. Encouraging transparency, accountability; empowerment & ownership.

At RangeRoom we understand that this is a business that touches so many people’s lives from its production to its consumption. We all need clothes after all – but we need to start changing the way we go about it, together.

For more information Download the Whitepaper here or Read more about Product and Design.  We’d love to hear your feedback here at RangeRoom

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