FAITHFULL THE BRAND co-founders Sarah-Jane Abrahams and Helle Them-Enger share what sustainability means to them personally and as a business, how the brand is integrating social and eco-responsible practices and why it is so important that they continue to produce and manufacture locally in Bali, Indonesia.
“What does sustainability mean to you personally and as a business?”
"To us, a focus on sustainability is an ongoing responsibility; it is a life-long journey of operating our business thoughtfully, with consideration of its impact on the people and the planet and resist cutting corners at all costs.
It is crucial for us both personally and as a business to be aware of the significance of the environmental impact and constant global changes which is why we as a fashion business vow to improve in this area.
For 2021 we will continue implementing our ethics into our daily business practices with key focuses on respect for the planet, supporting surrounding communities, and ensuring transparency within their supply chain. Weekly sustainability meetings have been implemented with our team for progress checkpoints to ensure we are keeping on track.
We are far from perfect, however, we promise we care. We are putting in the time to be better and do better and will share this with our community as we understand the importance of transparency and measurability."
“The fashion industry, as a whole, appears to be making strides towards improving ethics and sustainability. How has FAITHFULL THE BRAND worked to integrate being more socially and eco-responsible into its business?”
"It is challenging for anyone in the fashion industry to consider themselves completely sustainable and we have the utmost respect for those who have achieved this title.
When it comes to being sustainable and environmentally conscious we are committed to becoming the most responsible version of ourselves. Over the past two years, we have taken measures reflecting this by introducing sustainable and certified fabrications to our collections, reducing excess fabric wastage within our production processes, using biodegradable packaging for all e-commerce orders, and we will implement biodegradable garment bags throughout our supply chain this year.
Eco-conscious practices have been implemented in both of our offices in Australia and Indonesia, such as educational recycling practices to reduce general waste, restricting single-use plastic usage, daily lunch provided in reusable containers within our Indonesian office for our 100+ team, and providing all staff company-wide with reusable water bottles.
Manufacturing with local small businesses to reduce our carbon footprint will continue for the business along with the support of the handmade, artisanal qualities of our garments. We are very excited to be investing in technology that will reduce excess fabric wastage even further, which will be introduced to the business by the end of 2021."
“What are some of the key pieces within your collections, and what makes them considered?”
"We want to create garments that you can feel good about wearing on the inside and out. As part of this focus, we are increasing the offering of sustainable and certified fabrications within our collections.
From 2020 all of our collections include linen as a key staple fabrication, which is all certified European Flax fibres, grown and cultivated in Normandy, France following the European Flax® Standard. This linen boasts complete traceability as well as encompassing strong social responsibility and ethics and respect to the environment. We will continue the use of LENZING™ ECOVERO™ and FSC certified fibres, and have also introduced TENCEL™, to provide more eco-responsible pieces. Tencel Lyocell fibres are extracted from sustainably grown wood using a unique closed-loop system, making it one of the most sustainable fibres globally.
Furthermore, we are proud to use ECONYL® regenerated nylon and REPREVE recycled fibre, for our printed swimwear."
“Why is it important to you that your collections are sourced and produced locally?”
"Being community-minded is at the core of us personally and has been something we have always done and felt organically, ultimately reflecting into the business. Bali, Indonesia, is where we began our FAITHFULL THE BRAND journey, and the artisans and their handmade craft are part of the brand's DNA.
It is essential for us to know where our clothes are made. We are passionate about supporting local communities and ensuring that we continue to upskill and preserve handmade, artisanal skills. We will always align with family-run factories that provide opportunity and support traditional artisanal skills and provide a work environment that supports its community through stability and community focus over economic gain. We don’t negotiate price on quantities and prefer to pay a holistic fee to support and protect our makers and produce quality garments.
Founding our headquarters out of Bali, Indonesia, means we have traceability from start to end, ensuring ethical and fair working conditions throughout our supply chain. We have a hands-on, collaborative approach to our manufacturing.
The main focus of our 100+ employees in our Bali HQ is to oversee the manufacturing of our garments, with weekly visits to our factories and quality control to ensure the longevity of the garment. Our team is paid well above minimum wage with additional benefits including daily healthy lunchboxes and healthcare for our team and their families. We offer micro-financing to all employees, as well as vocational training programs internally and externally, which is a fundamental focus of the company’s values. At FAITHFULL THE BRAND, we believe in upskilling and providing the education and training for individuals to not only better their job performance but also their personal development."
“What type of community support do you conduct with your business? ”
"We are passionate about being directly involved with the local community ourselves; outside of working with established NGO's, we love supporting the small-scale organisations or individuals who dedicate their lives to giving back.
In 2020, the global circumstances saw a significant impact on Bali's flourishing economy, with the tourism industry, previously being the island's financial backbone, coming to a complete halt.
Being that community spirit is such an anchor of Bali, we launched an ongoing project where our Bali team personally put together and distributed food care packages to affected communities. Our communities are self-sufficient but do live day-to-day for the most part; our intention in providing these food care packages was not to create dependence but to help them feel a little relief and eat nutritiously. We visited and donated to orphanages, women's shelters and animal shelters, and individuals who suffered unemployment and we continue to do so. Since April 2020, we have provided relief for over 2000 families, with two-week food packages for a family of four.
Most recently, we held a sale in Bali in April 2021, where we committed to donating 100% of the sales to providing more food care packages to those in need. We aim to distribute an additional 2000 care packages through the remainder of 2021, to connect the community of Bali and ensure everyone has a sense of feeling like they have had the opportunity to help give back.
For this coming Earth Day on the 22nd of April, we are donating 100% of our e-commerce sales to Trees4Trees™, a non-profit foundation here in Indonesia focused on renewing the environment and empowering local communities through reforestation and education."
“What is next for FAITHFULL THE BRAND and the progression towards strengthening sustainable business practices? Where do you hope to be in the next three years?”
"As a brand, we are always looking for ways to do and be better and hold ourselves accountable. We have committed to investing time and additional resources in this area of our business to ensure that we are constantly evolving our strategies to achieve our goals.
We will continue and expand on our journey of using responsible fabrics, the launch of our biodegradable garment bags throughout our supply chain in 2021, upskilling and training programs, community support and giving back and ensuring that we provide more transparency to the customer through our branded platforms.
Some of our goals for the next three years are:
- Auditing and certifying our supply chain for better traceability and transparency, across all supplier tiers.
- Reducing carbon emissions and measuring carbon footprint by offsetting emissions.
- Investing in technology that will minimise fabric excess and wastage even further.
- Reducing our environmental impact within our production processes, with clear measurability on our progress.
- Meeting the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability, with the ultimate goal of being a certified brand.
- Implementing a structured program to actively give back to our community and provide better transparency."