Although we generally have the best intentions to make ethical decisions when shopping, at times it can be a tough task to sift out the truth from all the fair fashion bandwagoning and 'greenwashing'. That's where Brothers We Stand (BWS) comes in. This mens clothing site does the rigourous research for you and creates a footprint tab for each item, detailing the social and environmental impact of its supply chain. We spoke to BWS founder, Jonathan Mitchell, about what drove him to set up the company and his vision for the future.
What motivated you to start BWS, and what is your mission?
I noticed there was a growing number of designers working towards ethical and sustainable principles. I thought it would be exciting to bring them together in one place to make it easier for people to find them. I want to make buying ethical clothes an easy and enjoyable experience. The name represents our vision to stand with the men and women who make our clothes, our brothers and sisters in humanity.
What has been the biggest challenge in getting the company to where it is today?
Everything! Starting a business is hard and it’s been a massive learning curve. You learn a lot through setting up a business but you really need to be up for working hard. One thing which I find particularly difficult is jumping from task to task, sometimes I just want to dig into one task but at the moment I need to keep many plates spinning.
From your experience, which skills would you say are most important for successfully running a social business?
Strong business acumen is fundamental if you want to make something that can sustain itself and even grow. I’d encourage all social entrepreneurs to find ways to grow in this area as it will be key to your success. I’ve found it helpful reading biographies of successful business people and meeting up with business mentors.
Second, is teamwork and real leadership. You need to create a strong team with a variety of skills and you need to truly learn from and appreciate your team members.
Third is resilience. Starting a business is hard and starting a social business can be even tougher.
I’m currently working on all of the above!
Can you tell us about some of the brands sold at BWS and how you ensure they uphold ethical standards?
One that comes to mind is Mud Jeans - they use recycled denim and work with a manufacturer in Tunisia who they visit regularly to discuss working conditions. They’ve disclosed every step of their supply chain to us. Every item on Brothers We Stand has a footprint tab detailing its supply chain. Included in the tab is a summary of the strong points and areas for development. We want to provide people with transparent information and to ensure that our customers can be confident any product they buy has a supply chain that has been researched and approved by us. You can read more about our the standards we apply here.
Brothers We Stand stock items from Elvis and Kresse, a company that creates unique, hand-made products from a range of reclaimed materials including old firehouses.
Do you have any advice for how people can make more ethical decisions in their day-to-day purchasing choices?
Life is busy which is why I created Brothers We Stand to try and make it easier for people to find ethical clothes. I hope people find the website useful. Apart from that I would advise people to consider buying less but better quality clothes and supporting designers who share their life values.
What can we expect from BWS in the future?
We have recently set up a Brothers We Stand bricks and mortar store in Bristol, UK. It would be great to set up more shops making it easy for people to find ethical clothing in their cities. In the meantime we plan to steadily add more ethical options to our online collection. It’s just the beginning for Brothers We Stand and I’d love people to join us on our journey right from the start!
Interested in reading more content like this? Sign up for our weekly UK newsletter here.