As much as sustainability has become one of the fashion industry's biggest conversations and priorities in recent years, it remains quite challenging for consumers to navigate. There's the oft-discussed lack of clear language or regulation, "sustainable" having become a misleading catchall term that can reference so many different things, from slow manufacturing, to ethical treatment of workers, to use of organic materials — and that any brand can slap onto its marketing materials.
For those looking to discover and shop independent, sustainably-minded brands without getting a headache, one innovative retailer is cutting through the noise and making the process easier and more transparent.
Wolf & Badger debuted in London in 2010, and was ahead of its time in the ways it sought to disrupt retail. By treating physical retail as an experience, focusing on offering unique items from independent brands and operating on a retail-as-a-service model (Wolf & Badger itself does not hold any inventory), it has solved many of the pain points that have led to the demise of so many department stores and multi-brand boutiques in recent months. It's also done an excellent job of replicating that experience online.
On wolfandbadger.com, you can shop clothes, accessories and cruelty-free beauty from over 1,000 independent brands that all take an ethical approach towards creating and selling products. Making it easier to consume consciously is one of the retailer's main goals.
"You are safe in the knowledge that all the designers we carry have some element of sustainability to their collections," explains Henry Graham, Wolf & Badger's creative director and co-founder. "We add to this by also showing 'guarantee icons' that delineate exactly which brands go further than our minimum requirements, thus allowing you to shop via your preferred ethical criteria, such as 'Vegan' or 'Happy Worker.'"
These 15 icons help shoppers make informed decisions and, refreshingly, acknowledge that there is more than one way in which brands can consider the environment and the people involved in the production process. A 'Happy Worker' emblem, for example, will appear on a product page to confirm that, "Workers are paid a living wage; no child labour or human trafficking is involved in the production of the collection; the factory is compliant with all local environmental regulations," per the retailer's Guarantee Index, which can easily be found on its website. These guidelines are also there to incentivize brands to incorporate even more of these principles into their business models.
Something else that sets Wolf & Badger apart is that it believes that ethical production and aesthetic beauty needn't be mutually exclusive. "We initially choose brands based on their aesthetic merit, how well they complement our existing range, their innovation in design and the quality of their workmanship," explains Graham. "The fact that they are all sustainable in different ways is a bonus and something that makes our edit even more different to other retailers out there."
We're already assembling a solid fall shopping list from the site's offering, including a beautiful pair of velvet slippers, some whimsical earrings, a versatile red dress and more. Shop some of our favorite pieces below.