Sustainable Enterprise – A continuos process
Magic is in the Fabric
Did you know that the clothing industry in general is the second largest polluter worldwide? The dyeing and treating of textiles in the industry are responsible for about twenty percent of the world’s polluted water. It’s time to take up our responsibility at MRFG.
Anyone who, as a fashion entrepreneur, wants to look at the future with confidence, has no choice but to invest in sustainability. Leading a business in 2019 is inextricably linked with respect for people and nature. It is our responsibility to contribute to a more conscious society. We have taken this responsibility even more to heart since MRFG became an ambassador for the Close The Loop program, for which we, as an existing fashion company, were motivated to make our current processes more sustainable. We hope this will inspire and encourage you to also choose for change. Responsible entrepreneurship is the future and we are pleased to be a pioneer in our sector.
At the end of 2019, MRFG completed a pilot project in collaboration with Flanders DC, the Flemish organization for entrepreneurship in the creative sector. In order to allow sustainable entrepreneurship to seep into the company’s DNA, MRFG developed an action plan in collaboration with external experts. “It was an instructive experience,” say Cedric, Ruth and Ann-Sofie.
What are the most important lessons you learned?
Ann-Sofie: We were already good in several areas. We produce on demand, so we have no overstock and our production waste is kept to a minimum. And yet it was surprising to see in which areas we could work even more consciously.
Cedric: My most important lesson is that 100% sustainability does not (yet) exist. It’s a continuous process and we learn every day.
Ann-Sofie: Right. In the beginning we were perhaps too strict with ourselves. We were aiming for 100% sustainability but just find buttons, hooks, zippers that are. Meanwhile, we know the road to sustainability is long and it’s okay to take baby steps.
Ruth: We’ve also learned that we really do have an impact. By asking our fabric manufacturers for alternatives, for example, we’re gradually developing our supply.
What’s the result?
Ann-Sofie: In our Rembo Styling 2021 collection we now have around fifteen durable dresses. The entire collection is produced in a conscious way in Portugal and we continue to work to increase the share of sustainable dresses in our collection.
Ruth: In case of design, that means I’m going the other way around. I’m used to starting the collection from an aesthetic point of view with beautiful fabrics and lace that feel good and fall smoothly. For these sustainable dresses I started with a limitation because there are few ecological materials for our niche industry so there was a lot of searching and puzzling to make beautiful dresses with them.
Could it be even better in the future?
Cedric: Of course, we continue to improve ourselves step by step. In terms of production, for example, we can cut our fabrics even more efficiently so that we have even less waste. We want to use even more locally produced materials.
What is the biggest challenge?
Cedric: If you want to do business in a socially responsible way, you must tackle all facets of the company and you can’t do that alone. You must involve all partners – from fabric manufacturers to transporters to our customers, bridal boutiques and end consumers – and not everyone is or was ready. Shipping, in particular, remains a major challenge.
Ann-Sofie: Of course, we want to continue to appeal to our customers with beautiful and high-quality dresses.
Ruth: That starts with the fabrics. For a wedding dress you need very specific materials such as muslin and chiffon and a responsible alternative is hard to find. We hope to have a wider choice of fabrics in the near future.
Will it be easy to get fabric producers on board?
Cedric: We first contacted our current suppliers. We explained what we expect from them and asked them to help us think about ecological alternatives.
Ann-Sofie: We also received a list of sustainable fabric suppliers via Flanders DC.
Ruth: The supply is limited, especially for lace. Some fabric producers simply laughed at our demand. For many, a natural fabric like cotton is the alternative, but cotton is not ecological. We are demanding because bridal fashion is a very specific niche. A wedding dress is an emotional product; a bride buys a dress because it is beautiful and does not always think about the production process. Just getting the right color is not an easy task. For example, the bride expects a uniform white dress, so we need meters of fabric and lace in the same ivory white. That seems obvious, but it’s not. The whiter the fabric, the more intense the bleaching process and the more harmful chemicals are used.
Ann-Sofie: In the meantime, we have noticed that our suppliers are now much more on board and excited about the idea, because nowadays they contact us with suggestions and proposals. We buy less from suppliers who do not have sustainable alternatives, so they feel the need to investigate this anyway. Of course, it’s not easy for them either. A new way of producing requires new machines and therefore heavy investment.
How does the market react?
Ann-Sofie: The bridal sector is currently still divided. Certainly, older boutiques aren’t really working on it yet. Young, hipper shops are reacting enthusiastically because the supply is meagre and their customers are asking for beautiful and durable, quality wedding dresses. We are one of the few producers.
Cedric: As a pioneer, we point out to our customers the importance of sustainability and that corporate responsibility should be more than just a sales trick. The new generation of brides is consciously working on it and if you want to survive, you must be with them.
To find out more about our efforts, you can always consult our sustainability report here.
Do you have any tips for us to design even more consciously? Frequently asked questions on this subject from the market? Let us know! Sharing is caring!