‘Shop Like You Give A Damn’ is a Dutch company established in 2018 that has recently launched in the UK. It is a vegan, fair, and ethical online department store for womenswear, menswear, children, babies, homeware, and cosmetics with a difference!
Shop Like You Give A Damn are on a mission to make compassion and sustainability the new normal. The founders, Kim, Stephan, and Alex, have carefully curated a set of fourteen criteria under which each brand is categorised to make your shopping experience as easy as possible.
Customers can choose to filter their purchases depending on whether the brands are, 1. fully vegan or offer vegan and non-vegan products, 2. Fairtrade, 3. A social enterprise, 4. Locally made, 5.Sustainable use of raw materials, 6. Sustainable factory,
7. Sustainable packaging, 8. Sustainable delivery, 9. Zero waste or less waste, 10. They are a 100 percent plastic-free company, 11. Slow fashion brand, 12. Circular brand, 12. They manufacture using organic fabrics and finally, 14. They use recycled materials.
Kim van Langelaar, co-founder of ‘Shop Like You Give A Damn,’ talked to me about why she gives a damn about the planet and how she encourages you to do the same using your purchasing power.
How did you come up with the idea of creating a sustainable and vegan marketplace?
The idea to launch a vegan fashion platform originated back in 2017, because for a very long time it simply wasn’t possible to shop within a broad range of trustworthy vegan fashion items. This especially proved difficult for my husband and now business partner Stephan, who was looking for vegan men’s wear and often came back disappointed finding out there was a hidden leather label here, an unexpected wool blend there or a questionable screen print. Frustrated with that fact, we thought: this is a problem that needs solving. Because if us vegans are having trouble with this, we sure can’t be the only ones.
So – we started our online department store Shop Like You Give a Damn for vegan, fair and sustainable fashion and cosmetics, recently branching out to homeware too. We wanted to make it super easy and accessible for everyone to shop ethically by creating a large platform with a super broad range of products. For those who give a damn.
At the moment, our marketplace brings together hundreds of ethical brands and sellers. Here we invite our visitors to shop compassionately. As little as possible and never more than they need, but always vegan, fair and as sustainable as possible.
Our visitors can filter within our collection of 10.000+ products with our 14 ethical and environmental criteria, or search within certain materials and certifications, allowing them to select their favourite items based on issues that matter to them most.
We want to make compassion and sustainability the new normal. Together with all those local, passionate businesses we can truly make a huge impact. We’re working on creating more transparency in the fashion business and desperately try to persuade people to make the vegan and fair choice, as sustainable as possible.
It’s especially important at this time because the people producing the items in the (fast) fashion industry have been hit really hard during this corona crisis.
What, in your opinion, drives the consumer demand for vegan brands?
People are finally opening their minds and their hearts to a way of consuming that doesn’t hurt other living beings – on a much bigger scale than we’ve seen over the last years. Vegan, fair and slow fashion made with love and much more understanding of the earth we’re taking so much from, will grow until finally, that is the new normal.
Shopping ethically is so important, and people seem to realise that more and more. All sorts of environmental issues, terrible working conditions and animal rights problems throughout all animal-industries are so completely intertwined. Often horrible practices in (fast) fashion that are so common, are completely hidden from the public.
It’s important that businesses like Shop Like You Give a Damn help create awareness about all these issues AND provide better, kinder alternatives. It’s why we invite our visitors to shop compassionately: make sure you know its origin and put your money where your ethics are.
Do you know how much the vegan and sustainable fashion market has grown in the last years?
Veganism is obviously booming now, but exact numbers/percentages are hard to find worldwide, especially when the distinction between plant-based eaters and ethical vegans (lifestyle) is often not defined. However, we realise that the vegan movement is growing humongously – all people who will probably start changing their diets, but over time making more ethical choices regarding other parts of their lifestyle – such as their wardrobes – too.
As Shop Like You Give a Damn only launched in April last year (2019), we cannot see this trend within our own business first-hand just yet.
Our business is growing full speed, but whether that’s just a result of our hard work combined or also the lovely conscious, vegan, ethical and sustainable trend that’s happening right now? We’d be guessing 🙂
What are the criteria upon which you curate your collections? Why did you choose to offer this facility on your website?
We currently have 14 ethical and environmental criteria we measure all brands and products against: ranging from whether they are (from) a fully vegan brand, made under fair working conditions to whether they are plastic-free, from closed-loop systems, delivered or even entirely produced carbon neutrally.
The main challenge we’re now facing is finding truly credible brands and assessing how ethical they actually are. Behind the scenes we’re working hard on expanding and deepening those 14 criteria, because over the years we’ve learned so much more about this complex and intransparent industry we’re in.
At the moment we’re building towards launching 31 sub-criteria within themes like veganism, fair production chains, sustainability, inclusivity in the broadest sense and social entrepreneurship: giving back to our earth and communities.
Our biggest challenge is doing the research as deep as we feel is necessary with our small team and limited budget. But – we’re working towards a breakthrough here. Updates will follow soon 🙂
Do you face any challenges with regards to being an online-only brand?
For us, being an online-only department store is not a challenge at all, it might even be a blessing in disguise in these pandemic times. This is where our talents lie and the way we know we can make our biggest positive impact.
But of course: producing and shipping in itself is not environmentally positive as it will always take a toll on Mama Earth. That’s why we encourage our customers to shop compassionately – but as little as possible, never more than they need. Of course, there are always more sustainable options both brands and consumers can choose for, and it’s exactly those products and brand-country connections we’re offering.
Are there any campaigns you are part of or are advocating for to help change the fashion industry?
On Black Friday we launched our #ByeBuyFriday campaign, boldly asking our visitors to fork over 10% more on that day only – a campaign to draw attention to our society’s impulsive buying behaviour, overproduction and the throwaway culture that characterize this promotional period. (Of course, we donated the proceeds to a charity that shares our values in the field of fair and more sustainable fashion, inclusivity within the environmental movement, animal rights and anti-racism: shero Mikaela Loach.)
What are your plans for the future of Shop Like You Give A Damn?
Simply offering more ethical brands in more countries, making it so easy for everybody to shop ethically and sustainably that it would be completely weird to not do so :-).
As we’re growing our partnerships with many European brands, we are able to offer more and more local options for people in each country.
Once we go full steam ahead in the US, we will also be offering our American-based collection there.
Check out the Ethical Fashion Brands Directory
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