The concept of being an ethical consumer comes in so many different forms. I have only just begun to dip my toes into this world so I am very cognizant of the fact that there are a lot of things I still don’t know much about. Ethical men’s fashion and more importantly, ethical streetwear are two topics that are still in the unknown realm. Luckily, I have amazing friends and one of my friends, Ashton, reached out to me and shared an article from the streetwear company Noah’s blog. So, since he knows more about the company than I do I asked him to write a post for me on his experience with the company and what sustainability means to him. I know I use the word “sustainability” very loosely and the term holds a lot of weight to it, hearing Ashton’s perspective on what ethical fashion means to him was really interesting.
Enjoy reading and thank you again Ashton.
P.S. Here is the article on Noah’s Blog that Ashton shared with me that I found really interesting.
Noah: Ethical Streetwear
By: Ashton Maxey
I first heard about Noah coming back from a concert. I didn’t know much about them, but after some research, I learned about their desire to take a stand against the unethical practices of the fashion industry. It left me wanting to learn more about them, the fashion industry, and the quality of their clothes. Weeks later when venturing around SoHo, I made a trip to their New York flagship store. Tucked away on the corner of 195 Mulberry St., it had a very welcoming atmosphere with friendly employees and great interior design. It felt like walking into your home; it had a nice couch for people to sit on and music played at the perfect volume in the background. That day I purchased a long sleeve tee and four stickers that said “HUMAN RIGHTS” in different colors. The proceeds from these stickers went directly to the American Civil Liberties Union. Some of their products can be expensive, but Noah has an explanation for that.
Their products are great, the shirt I bought is both comfortable and durable, and I’m constantly asked where I got my stickers when I pull out my laptop.
Noah is an ethical streetwear brand that is doing everything possible to pursue quality, integrity, and originality. The founder of Noah and former creative director of Supreme, Brendon Babenzien, has developed a reputable model combining ethics and streetwear. Recently they set the straight record stating, “We are not a sustainable company” and “There’s really no such thing as a sustainable clothing company.” As a result, it made me think about the word sustainable and what constitutes a sustainable fashion company. Sustainability is the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources to maintain an ecological balance. However, in an industry that is second biggest polluter behind oil. How sustainable can a fashion company be? For example, not every piece of vegan fashion is sustainable. It prevents animal cruelty. However, the quality of materials may have a shorter lifespan and cause more harm to the environment when thrown away. It creates a dilemma with the word sustainable because harm is still done to the environment but it’s more subtle and long-term. No matter what, the fashion industry is problematic, but everyday companies like Noah are finding a way to take a stand and help eliminate the harm done to our environment.
Noah is focused on being open and honest about their agenda while also being ethical and responsible. They have nothing to hide, and this should be how every company operates if it wants to strive to be ethical, sustainable, and responsible. If a fan were to ask why their windbreaker is so expensive, Noah would respond with an explanation and an infographic breaking down the exact production process. Noah isn’t afraid to share how they do business; they have given multiple explanations as to why certain products are certain prices. Also, they go out of their way to partner with other organizations that fight for different civil rights, while allowing proceeds from their products to go directly to the cause. Noah is working to improve themselves every day while simultaneously proving a company can be ethical, responsible, and therefore sustainable in an industry that historically is not.
Is anything sustainable?
There is always more to be done, but the word sustainable seems unreasonable for the fashion industry. Some companies use it as a marketing scheme, others stand by it, but overall the word is flawed. Everyone seems to have a different interpretation of the word sustainable, and this creates a grey area within the word. Nothing is black and white in this world, but personally, the more appropriate word here is ethics. Every company should be ethical in how they do business. For too long the fashion industry has found loopholes and exploited animals or humans to find the cheapest and most efficient way to make clothes. Fast fashion is no different from fast food, it’s cheap, it doesn’t last long, and it’s highly accessible. However, that does not mean it’s good. It’s refreshing to know a company like Noah is taking a stand against the industry’s unethical practices. Especially in streetwear where exclusivity drives demand. As for their clothes, they’re as good as they say they are. Noah is a quality brand and their products last, but some can be pricey.