“Fast Fashion” has come to carry a certain stigma with it. The concept often has connotations of affordable and readily available trends. Statistics show that most fast fashion brands are already outdoing their traditional counterparts. But for all its convenience, the concept has also been associated with unethical manufacturing practices as well as being unfriendly toward the environment.
However, there is one woman-led startup that might change that. Soko is an artisan jewelry brand that was co-founded by Gwen Floyd. When asked about the ultimate mission of the company, Floyd said “We want to create an ethical fashion landscape where people can buy ethically by default. We don’t need to make choices between our wallets and our values.”
Floyd originally got her first idea for the brand when working as a design consultant, during this time she worked with brands such as Nike and eBay. Essentially, she helped these brands take on social issues. It was then that she thought about a unique opportunity to help emerging economies:
“I started understanding that not only have we created a legacy of horrible infrastructure, waste and technology that’s dependent on non-renewable resources, but that there was this amazing opportunity to leapfrog some of the mistakes we’ve made in our part of the world in emerging economies, where we could use technology in innovative ways.”
Floyd believes that a stabilized economy is one step toward a more stable society. Her epiphany was that this could be achieved through a means that many people living in developing economies already have access to – cell phones.
In the case of Africa, she notes “Much of the African continent is far more technologically-advanced than we are as it relates to mobile technology. Years before we had the apple wallet or anything like that, they were transacting primarily on their mobile phone.”
Thus, after meeting two her cofounders Peinoveich and Mahugu in Kenya, Floyd launched Soko in 2012. The company’s products are handcrafted by over 2,000 artisans in Kenya. Floyd originally referred to the company as an Etsy of sorts, essentially, Soko essentially uses mobile app technology to organize the manufacturing process. Essentially, it is a digital factory of sorts.
This sort of platform allows for far more flexibility and responsiveness when it comes to changes in demand. The mobile format does naturally allow users access to information in real time. As such, there is rarely over or under-production. Many of the brand’s products make it to retailers such as Nordstrom, Reformation, Goop etc.
Featured Image via Wikipedia