How to buy for a more sustainable boutique

By Flora Davidson, co-founder of Supplycompass

As the number of ethical fashion brands is on the rise, the number of consumers prioritising the sustainability of a product is also growing.

With ethics and sustainability becoming increasingly important to consumers, how can you ensure that the brands you are buying are catering to the needs of both consumers and the planet?

Here are some areas to look for when making your buying decisions:


It’s impossible to be 100 per cent ethical and sustainable, plus perfection is also not necessarily what consumers are expecting or looking for. But they are looking for clarity – consumers want to know what the brand stands for and what it is doing to be sustainable and ethical.

The message shouldn’t be over complicated. What stands out for consumers in a busy marketplace is a clear, singular approach to responsibility that cuts through and resonates with them.

Look for brands with clear, realistic positioning that your customers can understand and get behind. If it’s overcomplicated then you’ll struggle to communicate the message to your customers.

Sustainability and materials

This is about the origin and impact of the raw materials used in garments and accessories, ensuring fibres are sustainably and ethically sourced and manufactured into fabric. Fabrics considered to be among the most sustainable are linen, recycled PET, organic cotton and tencel.

Durable design

Look for high quality products that will last and that customers can love forever. That may be a classic dress that can be passed down the generations or bags and shoes that will stand the test of time. This can mean thinking about end of life and supply chain circularity, working out ways for your customers to recycle, reuse and repair products.

People and ethics

This is about the brand’s supply chain partners and ensuring they’re working exclusively with those who are focused on having positive social impacts and caring for the wellbeing of their workers. This could be offering benefits such as bonus schemes, crèches and free health care, or giving back and supporting the local community. Certifications such as Fairtrade, SA800 and GOTS indicate social compliance.


A brand that is open and transparent tells its consumers not just who their key manufacturers are, but also provides details on all their other suppliers from zips and fabrics to labelling and packaging. Transparency can also mean offering a full breakdown of costs, splitting out labour costs, material costs, logistics costs and taxes.

Stay well informed

The best way to start being a more responsible buyer is to ask questions, so that you are well informed and understand what is achievable and available. Being a more responsible buyer means being more conscious of your social and environmental impact and constantly striving to improve every aspect of your supply chain. Question your decisions every step of the way and consider whether there is a more responsible option. If you want to create a more sustainable business, ethics should be front of mind for every buying decision made.


Flora Davidson is co-founder of Supplycompass

Supplycompass is tech enabled end-to-end production management platform for responsible brands that want to find and work with the best international manufacturers. It enables brands to find their perfect manufacturing partner at home or overseas. Brands can create tech packs, get matched with a manufacturer and use the platform to manage production from design to delivery. Supplycompass works with brands and manufacturers to embed responsible and sustainable practises in their businesses and deliver value and create opportunities for growth.