The other day I posted a link on Facebook to new Belgian website Honest By which puts pricing and sourcing transparency at the top of its agenda. It provoked a great debate both on and off the page – some liked it and some didn’t, though the consensus amongst the fashion industry people who emailed me was that the pricing transparency could prove to be ‘too much information’ for many consumers.
One designer friend thought that full pricing transparency would lead to more people trying to find out who they know at a company to try to buy items at wholesale price for the simple reason that it is often difficult for consumers who are not business owners themselves to imagine all the costs behind producing and selling a product. I certainly had no idea before I started Belen Echandia. If you have a thought about this, let me know in the comments field below. This got me thinking about the relatively new trend for brand transparency and how 2012 seems set to be the year the concept will really enter mainstream consciousness. Several companies have offered up information about their “behind the scenes” for years, Belen Echandia being one of them, and more are set to launch. I don’t think that this is a passing trend, it is here to stay. Companies are sharing more and more about their processes, their backgrounds, their procedures and even the way their products are made.
One example is the IOU Project, which aims to show the whole process behind its products, from the Indian weaver who weaved the fabric, to the artisan who worked on the product, to the final consumer. The IOU Project’s blog describes its initiative like this: “The IOU Project produces unique, handmade apparel based on fabrics handwoven in India. Because each textile is unique, we provide end buyers with the ability to trace the production process from finished goods right back to the weaver that hand-wove the fabric. The stories of how that item was created, of the people involved, of the customers who purchased them, are the essence of the the e-commerce social network which The IOU Project has built as a meeting place for a community that shares our brand values of authenticity, transparency, uniqueness and both social and environmental responsibility.” Another project that caught my eye is Sourcemap.
Sourcemap is a revolutionary fashion tool which allows you to track the production of everyday products from cradle to grave. According to Sourcemap itself:
“Consumers use the site to learn about where products come from, what they’re made of, and how they impact people and the environment. Companies use Sourcemap to communicate transparently with consumers and tell the story of how products are made. Thousands of maps have already been created for food, furniture, clothing, electronics and more. Behind the public-facing website is a revolutionary social network-based approach to supply chain management.
Sourcemap works with organizations to increase visibility into their supply chains through a new generation of web-based software for traceability, monitoring and risk management. The lightweight, real-time social networking platform makes it possible to gather information from all of the stakeholders in a global supply chain so that – one day soon – you’ll be able to scan a product on a store shelf and know exactly who made it.” Source: www.sourcemap.com (no pun intended).
Belen Echandia began showing the production process to customers a few years ago. We decided to set up a blog to show bespoke bags being made. At the other end of the spectrum, we allow our customers to post pictures of themselves with their bags on our website. In the coming weeks we will be turning our long-loved concept into a story board on our website. Which brings us to the next instalment and one of our absolute favourite 2012 trends:
STORY TELLING – Coming soon!