We sat down with Faris Hamadeh, the inspiring co-founder of new sustainable fashion platform SlowCo, to discuss how he's trying to revolutionise the fashion industry.
1. thanks for joining us Faris - to kick things off, please describe SlowCo in less than 20 words
SlowCo is bridging the gap between ethics and aesthetics in fashion!
2. tell us a bit about your background and what inspired you to start SlowCo
I used to work in finance but became disillusioned with the industry and wanted to do something with more of an impact. I’d always loved fashion and realized there was nowhere that I could find clothes online that aligned to both my style and my values so I pitched it to my now co-founders and we got to building SlowCo – we’re the first sustainable fashion platform globally with gender inclusivity at its core.
3. what are the best and worst things about your job?
Best: I love discovering small new sustainable brands that are doing way more creative and innovative things than the big brands, almost always with a tiny fraction of the resources and budget.
Worst: running a startup often feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to give the business everything it needs to thrive!
4. is a fashion revolution underway and what are the biggest challenges for brands like SlowCo trying to fight fast fashion?
Change within the fashion industry is happening fast and attitudes are changing for the better. The main obstacle we face as a society right now is a psychological one: whilst people are on board with shopping more sustainably - at least in theory - what’s taking longer is for people to realise that buying more ethically usually means paying more than they might be used to for the equivalent fast fashion item. Fast fashion brands have artificially suppressed prices over the last 2 or 3 decades to an unbelievable extent and therefore it may take some time before society realises the value in paying slightly more for a far superior product.
5. how can our readers be confident about buying sustainably?
This is a tricky one as there’s a lot of greenwashing out there. Stay away from sweeping statements and look for real detail on materials and evidence of ethical production – the “about us” or “sustainability” page on a website is usually a good place to start. Another good thing to look out for are independent certifications such as GOTS, Fairtrade, RCS – these can provide some comfort to consumers in terms of giving confidence in the brand’s supply chain transparency.
6. what two practical tips can you give our readers - apart from buying clothes from SlowCo of course(!) - to help combat fast fashion?
Two words: buy less! Buying from independent sustainable brands is a very important part of the solution but if you’re someone who’s a serial shopper, then weaning yourself off overconsumption of fashion is the single most valuable way to start.
7. tell us about your pop-up and the rationale behind diversifying into offline
We’re super excited about our popup in Boxpark in Shoreditch this month. We’ll be there from 18th April to 1st May and are really keen for people to meet our brands in person – we might even give a little discount to object’s readers if they drop by (wink wink).
We realized quite early on that with marketing, the more channels that you can pursue, the better. It really is a case of 1 + 1 = 3 when you combine digital marketing with offline marketing – especially when it comes to something as physical as clothes.
8. what in life do you object to most!?
Double standards. The recent Ukraine conflict is a huge tragedy and deserves to be condemned in the strongest terms. That said, there are other equally unjust military occupations that have been going on, in some cases for 70+ years such as Palestine, West Papua, Western Sahara. These forgotten conflicts rarely get the objective coverage they deserve and invariably the occupiers never suffer any meaningful sanctions. I bet you’re thrilled I kept it nice and light for your lovely readers! Haha