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Our Values

 

ETHICAL

ECO

STYLE

All of our products are ethically made, and we reinvest 10% of our profits in microloans to female entrepreneurs in developing countries.

We aim to stock products that have a positive impact on our environment, and our preference is to select natural fibres or recycled material wherever possible.

 

We partner with modern designers and select our products based on elegance, simplicity and style (we promise there's no hessian).

 

Every decision we make about Renegades of Chic is driven by our purpose: to create a fair global economy by empowering people in developing countries to lift themselves out of poverty and lead flourishing lives.

Just like in life, business decisions involve weighing up the pros and cons associated with going down one path instead of another.  We live in a world of grey, so there often isn’t an obvious black and white choice, except of course when choosing colour schemes, in which case grey, black and white is always the right answer because monochrome is everything! But I digress…

In navigating this world of grey we are guided by our three core values - ethical, eco, style. Each one of these words means something different to everyone, so we’ve decided to spell out exactly what they mean to us. You’ll probably agree with some things and not others and we’re comfortable with that, because our diversity is what makes the world such a vibrant and interesting place! We are in no way attempting to say our way is the right way, it’s just the way we have chosen to guide us in achieving our purpose. If you have any questions or would like to let us know your views on these complex issues we'd love to hear from you at hello@renegadesofchic.com.

Ethical

For us, the ‘gold standard’ of ethical production is Fair Trade certification,  and we are proud to say that some of our partners are certified Fair Trade organisations (you can find them by searching #fairtrade).

We understand that some people only want to buy products that are certified by Fairtrade International, or that have been made by organisations accredited by the World Fair Trade Organisation, and our hope is that one day this will become the status quo. 

Here's the thing - as we've built Renegades of Chic we've discovered some amazing small businesses and independent designers who are creating positive change, but haven't yet achieved Fair Trade certification. For some businesses in the early growth stage, they've prioritised expanding their production capacity and employing more artisans instead of applying for Fair Trade certification (which can cost $1,000's). Others may use upcycled or recycled materials so they can’t guarantee every stage of their supply chain involved in creating their product meets Fairtrade International standards, but they're still having a positive impact on the environment and paying fair wages. In some cases, the artisans are at such high risk (particularly women who have escaped human trafficking) that the business can't reveal their location, which makes formal certification particularly challenging.

That's why we have also chosen to partner with small businesses who treat artisans with respect, pay them a fair wage and are invested in creating long-term change at the local community level. All of the designers we work with have spent months, even years, living and working with artisans to understand local cultures, build relationships and combine modern design with traditional skills like weaving and metalwork to improve local economies. Even if they aren’t Fair Trade-certified, we're confident they are creating positive change for both the people they work with and their families.

By investing in businesses who are dedicated to the spirit and intent of Fair Trade, we are supporting them to grow their revenue, improve their processes and eventually be in a position to achieve certification in the future. For some this may happen quickly, for others it might be a longer journey depending on the obstacles and challenges they need to overcome along the way.

We can promise you that we only partner directly with small businesses and independent designers, and don’t go through wholesalers. This means we can always speak directly to the people responsible for making sure working conditions are safe, that people are paid fairly and are treated with dignity and respect. We take this responsibility very seriously and will discontinue partnerships if we feel these standards are not being met.

In our own business as a retailer, we’ve chosen to invest 10% of our profits in microloans to help female entrepreneurs in developing countries to start their own business and make a better life for themselves and their families. You can read more about our impact here.

Eco

For us, ‘eco’ means having the least negative or even a positive impact on the environment. It applies to both the raw materials used to create a product and the way a product was made.

In terms of production methods, we consider the ‘gold standard’ to be a process which has the least possible impact on the environment. Depending on the type of product, this could mean hand-made instead of machine-made (the majority of our products are hand-crafted), factories powered by 100% renewable energy, the use of natural dyes and best practice waste management and water conservation.  

In terms of raw materials, we consider the ‘gold standard’ to be certified organic (the Global Organic Textile Standard, known as GOTS), or 100% upcycled or recycled material where organic certification isn’t available, for example metals used in jewellery.

Some of our partners use GOTS-certified organic cotton (you can find them by searching #organic), while others use organic material that isn’t GOTS-certified. We have chosen to partner with them because even though they’re not certified yet, they are doing their best to improve our environment and use raw materials that are produced without the use of pesticides and chemicals - and we think that’s pretty great. 

We also partner with businesses who don’t know how some of their raw materials were produced, or who use upcycled animal products (e.g. horn). We only carry a very small range of products that are made from synthetic fibres, and are working to phase these out over time.

To be completely honest, right now we're giving more weighting to the ‘ethical’ value than the ‘eco’ value when choosing our partners. This is a conscious decision - w e know it’s not perfect, because like so many other things in life, it’s complicated. There are hundreds of thousands of people suffering as a result of pesticide use and unsustainable farming and production methods. We are in no way diminishing the importance of their health and wellbeing, and do our best to find partners using organic material instead of conventional cotton and other fibres. We have spoken to our partners about what it would take to switch to organic or more eco-friendly materials, and the answer generally comes down to money in one way or another.  Handmade products are labour-intensive compared to factory-made products, which mean the costs associated with labour are high (particularly when you are paying fair wages!).  This makes it difficult to be cost-competitive with other producers who aren't paying fair wages, so businesses often can't afford to pass on additional costs associated with organic and eco-friendly raw materials (assuming these are available locally). Even if they can afford to invest more in their raw material costs, many small-scale producers can't meet the minimum order quantities for innovative eco-friendly materials, because these companies are also trying to scale up and are giving preference to large-scale production orders. Like we said - it's complicated.

So, if we discover a business who is creating amazing social impact by providing safe and dignified working conditions, paying artisans a living wage and reinvesting back into local communities to create sustainable long-term change and end poverty, we're going to help them grow their business and increase their impact - even if they're not sewing with certified organic cotton yet.  It's complex, because so often chronic health issues and food insecurity are directly linked to environmental problems, but we have to start somewhere and we're choosing progress over perfection.

In our own business, we use 100% plastic-free recyclable packaging and use recycled content wherever possible. We provide 100% carbon-neutral deliveries Australia-wide and will be purchasing carbon credits to offset the emissions associated with shipping international orders.

Style

We created Renegades of Chic because we believe that buying ethically made products shouldn’t mean compromising your personal sense of style (and we have a strict 'no hessian or seeds' policy!).

For us, the ‘gold standard’ of style means choosing timeless, classic designs made from high-quality materials that effortlessly blend into your current wardrobe and home. 

We don’t chase trends because we believe true style never goes out of fashion. We partner with modern designers who share our views and design classic pieces that look great now and in years to come. 

If you’re one of the few people who made it to the end of this very long page, thank you for reading! If you'd like to help us choose the next pieces in our collection become a Style Insider and receive exclusive pre-order access!

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