Develop a solution that reflects the urgency of the situation
Marie began her professional life in cancer research, before embarking on voluntary work, notably in the association “Le Carillon”, a network of solidarity traders. Within the structure, she found that many of fabrics that had been recovered ended up in the bin. “At the same time, everyone has too many clothes, and we carry on producing even more. It makes no sense at all,” she says. “So I decided to set up a project to reuse everything we recovered.” In the process she met Antoine Coulaud, who developed the WeDressFair project at the same time as an association for the promotion of responsible consumption. The guiding principle is that of the “buycot”: Not refusing to buy with a “negative” boycott, but instead implementing a positive boycott, or refusing to consume too much clothing, and directing the remaining consumption to sustainable, ethical, and supportive purchases. ” The public is aware of the impact of the textile industry, but there is little information on consumer alternatives; our aim is to highlight different brands, bring them together, value their approaches .“
“I was not an entrepreneur at all”
The moment arrived to launch WeDressFair. “We are not born entrepreneurs, we learn it ,” recalls Marie. “We carry the project with a militant fibre, not an entrepreneurial one in the classical sense of the term. We see the company as a vehicle for commitment, as a means of engagement.” Entrepreneurship was the solution for their desire to change things in the textile industry. After spending time in Paris with Ticket for Change and then in the Makesens incubator, the structure launched in Lyon. ” We need to decentralize the world of fashion, which remains very Parisian. The creative atmosphere in Paris is huge, but WeDressFair is not about trends or creativity. Instead we are talking about our relationship to clothing, which affects everyone. We also realized that key players in the industry were all based in Paris. We wanted to break away from this logic and live in a region that we liked .” On arrival in the capital of the Gauls, with a mature project already up and running, the creators asked France Active Auvergne Rhône Alpes for support for further development. This required a participatory loan and structuring their commitment. “We were challenged in terms of the corporate vision we wanted, on the next phases in developing our project, we were able to refine our ideas for the future a bit. And we received recruitment support. All of this is very useful when you’re starting out as an entrepreneur.” WeDressFair developed as an online store bringing together different brands and ethical collections, as a physical shop in Lyon, and also as a responsible fashion media. The website contains explanatory sheets on the impact of the industry, on the criteria for assessing the ecological and social cost of a fabric, while specifying their commitments on governance and the choice of funders. After 2 years, the structure created 4 permanent and two short-term jobs in Lyon.
First, consume less, and then consume more
What about the rest? Marie Nguyen calls for a paradigm shift for industry: “We must not consume more ethical fashion, but consume less fashion, and make it more ethical.” But also for the consumer: ” We are not in a model of infinite growth: Our aim is to make the impact of the textile industry known and to make the alternatives known to everyone: Second hand, rental, repair, sewing, etc. We will have achieved our mission when everyone knows that. The public is very informed about alternatives in food consumption, but much less so for textile consumption.” And things are progressing, provided they are well oriented, “don’t hide it: ethical fashion becomes a market opportunity. More and more people want to engage. The goal is to establish highly transparent criteria for revealing companies’ greenwashing practices, with a process and method, so that everyone can do it outside of WeDressFair. This is where the fashion industry is going, we are calling for a real transition to responsible consumption.” There is still a long way to go.
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