Think it’s hard to shop eco fashion? Never know where to go for hot (ethical) styles and a good deal? Well fashionistas, now it is here! Compassion Couture is an online, one-stop-shop for all your needs. We recently got a chance to catch up with co-founder, Jill Spiritus, to talk about how Compassion Couture got started, the growing eco fashion industry and what the future holds for their store.
What was the inspiration for your company Compassion Couture?
Compassion Couture was completely born from personal experience! My sister and best friend, Tracey and I had always wanted to start a business together but were racking our brains on the type of business to start. The idea was sparked from Tracey becoming vegan since 2008 and me becoming vegetarian in 2010.
Being interested in keeping up with the latest fashion trends and shopping, as well as being concerned about the environment, both Tracey and I had a really difficult time finding handbags and shoes that were not made of leather, while also being made of sustainable materials.
We often had to search website upon website to find handbags, shoes and accessories that matched our fashion sense as well as our ideals! A lot of the handbags and shoes that we actually did find and purchase that were not made of leather were “vegan by default” – they were made of cheap, non-sustainable materials and fell apart very easily. We figured other women were having this problem and then the idea clicked. We should make a store that we would shop at; a store that sells high-quality, fashion-forward and sustainable vegan handbags, shoes and accessories!
Co-founders of Compassion Couture, Jill (left) and Tracey (right)
What makes ethical fashion so important?
Ethical fashion is so important because I believe that we should all do our best to save the planet and all of its inhabitants and until recently, the detrimental effects of the fashion industry have been overlooked. Most consumers are not aware of the damaging effects of leather used for fashion and my sister and I want to make it clear that this is a huge issue; from the amount of energy and pollution it takes to create leather, as well as the inhumane way that animals are treated during entire leather-making process. Our goal is to inform consumers that there are just as fashionable and high quality items out there that are ethical. If the products are out there, why buy anything else?!
Often times consumers say it is harder and more costly to shop ‘green’ or ethically. What would you tell these consumers?
I get this question all the time! I wish it wasn’t this way but the hard truth is that you get what you pay for. Fashions that are made out of high quality recycled or organic materials are going to cost more because they are not readily available. However, since the materials used are premium, the product produced is premium as well. The look and feel of an item made of these materials will hold up for years.
Additionally, brands that produce their items at factories that take an active stance in reducing carbon emissions/waste and provide fair-wages have a higher production cost, which in turn increases the retail price of the items.
Do you think consumers are making ‘green fashion’ more of a priority?
I definitely think ‘green fashion’ is growing! Over the past few years, the media and activist groups have made more of a priority to showcase organic foods, raw diets and animal-cruelty and in turn, chains like Whole Foods are thriving. And, celebrities like Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway and Carrie Underwood are also setting an example by wearing only vegan and ethical fashion items.
Consumers are taking an active stance in researching where the products they buy are produced, how they are made and what they are made of. I even have some research to back this up!
According to research conducted by Ryan Partnership Chicago and Mambo Sprouts Marketing, the ethical footwear and accessories markets are estimated to grow by more than 100% from 2011-2012!!
What does the future hold for your online store?
In the near future we plan to expand our store to sell a larger variety of products including beauty, bath and body, watches, scarves, glasses and even home products. We also want to include some sort of education on our site about the importance of ethical fashion and make it transparent how all of our items are in fact “ethical”.
We can’t forget about men – we would love to launch a “brother” site in the next few years. And, our ultimate longtime goal is to open a physical shop!