Honest by Bruno Pieters (1st collection)
"I wanted Honest by to be a creative and visually innovative space. When you shop at Honest by, you don’t necessarily need to be thinking about the environment because we do it for you. I wanted to make it easy and fun for everyone." Bruno Pieters
Honest by Bruno Pieters (1st collection)
What inspired you to create the Honest by label?
Bruno Pieters: Honest by is something that I wanted as a customer. During my sabbatical in India I saw this big billboard with this quote from Gandhi on it: Be the change you want to see in the world. Consumption is what has the biggest impact on this planet. I believe a change in our behavior as consumers can change the world, or at least make it possible for life, as we know it, to continue.
I of course know sustainability isn’t the most attractive or cool subject. This is why I wanted Honest by to be a creative and visually innovative space. When you shop at Honest by, you don’t necessarily need to be thinking about the environment because we do it for you. I wanted to make it easy and fun for everyone.
How was the company set up?
BP: Honest by was set up in Antwerp, Belgium in 2011, with a total of 5 people working on the creation of the auto-financed company. I am the founder, the CEO and curator at the moment.
What is involved in the creation of an Honest by garment?
BP: The design process of the collection for Honest by Bruno Pieters usually takes a few weeks. After that we try to find the right fabrics, doing all the necessary research to be sure that the fabrics are as sustainable as possible. At the same time there is a pattern maker developing all the styles, after which we usually have 3 or 4 fittings, depending on the complexity of the design. The complete process takes about 6 months.
How do you source materials?
BP: We do trade fairs in Paris and Munich. Many suppliers also contact us directly to show their collection. If the suppliers we work with do not have the kind of fabric we need, we do more research. We need to conduct a lot of research because the offering of sustainable fabrics and trimmings is still very limited, and also because we are currently ordering in small quantities, which isn’t realistic for many suppliers.
How has Honest by been received by customers and the fashion industry so far?
BP: Our customers are very enthusiastic. They love the concept, but mostly they love the designs, which is ultimately the most important thing. The fashion industry was also very pleased to discover something fresh and new.
It was funny to see how I was instantly branded an eco-designer; apparently we still like to label one another. I wonder what I was before; an unconscious or industrial or eco-unfriendly designer?
Honest by has been criticized for not being fully transparent because you don’t share the details of your finances and compensation (see here). Do you think it necessary to disclose this information? Would you do so if requested?
BP: I asked that question on the Honest by FB page. Nobody thought it was important or interesting. For me it was important to focus on the information about the product. Paying attention to how we produce and knowing what we buy is what has a true impact on the world.
The people who work for me have a Belgian employment contract, and Belgium is known to have some of the strictest labor and social laws in the world. I asked my staff if we could share their salary, but they felt uncomfortable with that. There is also no corporate sponsor for Honest by because I financed it by myself.
With consumers increasingly wanting to know where their clothes and shoes come from you, do you think that interest and appreciation for companies that respect full transparency will grow?
BP: Of course. If people buy sustainable and transparent products all companies will soon offer that. Every company in the world offers what we want. We decide. No corporation in the world wants to make something nobody wants. Our wish is their command. I think this can even happen now if we really start buying those products now.
One thing that’s difficult for consumers to overcome when it comes to sustainable and transparent fashion is the cost factor. How do you think that can be overcome so that more people can afford sustainable fashion?
BP: We are free to do what we want today. We decide what our priorities are, but it’s important for me to know every purchase I make has consequences and sends some kind of a message. Each singular person is so powerful, something that always amazes me. There are a lot of companies out there that could easily produce very affordable sustainable products but why would they bother if I keep buying the non-sustainable ones?
Do you think the speed of digital communication and product promotion has contributed to the growth and promotion of sustainable and transparent fashion?
BP: Yes I do. Digital communication is what is changing the world. It is making us more aware and conscious because we can read and see what is going on in the world..
Warm thanks in particular to our friends Summer Rayne Oakes, Benita Singh who are the founders of Source4Style and very inspiring lady-preneurs... Thanks also to Leena Oijala who conducted this interview.
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