McVERDI & sustainability
written by Juliane Honoré, 29. November 2019
In a world, where everyone talks about climate changes, the environment, pollution, plastic consuming… then yes, of course, this is a matter that concerns us in McVERDI a lot. It concerns us that the world situation is as it is, and it concerns us to be a part of a industry, which in many ways is a sinner when it comes to the environment. We do our very best every day. We love our company, our work, our design - and yes, of course, the Earth very much.
But from time to time it can be difficult to navigate in the sustainable maze. For what is actually preferable: an organic cotton shirt produced in China? A fairtrade blouse from Turkey or a linen dress produced in the EU? Should we go all in to protect the environment and decrease the pollution of our water resources, or is it better to prioritize human values and wellbeing? Should we focus on minimizing CO2 or our use of plastic, which is being used all to much? Is it best to buy the organic cucumber from abroad or the non-organic from the local farm? In utopia you could nurse all of above aspects. And luckily more and more solutions makes it possible to move towards a more sustainable living and production.
Nevertheless, the market is confusing both as a private person and a company. It is my feeling that you are often misled by sustainable approaches in big, bold letters, while the backside of the medal is not mentioned in the sustainability profile. Of course, we should be grateful for all kinds of focus there are set on climate and sustainability. It is, of course, the way to reach our common goal that more and more people and companies take steps in that direction.
And where is McVERDI in all this? How can we as a company with 32 years of experience do our part to make a better world? There are so much clothes in the world and so much, which is not produced with love. Thousands of pieces which might be produced in organic cotton, but in crazy big quantities to a price which is as low as even possible. Where the purpose is to make money and money only.
Of course we run McVERDI to bring home the bacon, but first of all, it is something we do, because we love it and because it is where we belong. We have the heart in what we do and we love to make you all happy with a new dress or a coat, where you feel at home. Every design is developed with care. The concept of “slow fashion” might be the “sustainable term”, we feel we can really identify with. For us, slow fashion is all about awareness and consciousness. That the clothes are designed and produced with care and heart. That you are in it because you really mean it and not just produce to produce. Quality and uncompromising design.
We are a family business with the heart in the right place and we only work with people whom we like. Most of our clothes are sewn at Irena’s factory in Bulgaria, which in many ways are similar to our business. It is also a family business run by father and daughter. They are respectful, decent and very nice people with whom we have built a close relationship over the years. A couple of years ago wages in Bulgaria were regulated and the minimum hourly wage set up to live up to EU legislation. Our manufacturer apologized many times, for the relatively significant price increase and to start with, it annoyed us, but after thinking about it for a while, it made perfect sense. Of course, the sweet ladies who sit and sew all our lovely clothes must have a decent salary for it - that is exactly what is so good about producing in the EU. That the standard of living for everyone in the EU should be good. So when all the adjustments were made, I actually think it was a reasonable adjustment. We never push the price and do not shuffle between production sites according to who can do what cheapest. For us, the most important thing is having a trusting collaboration and we are loyal customers at a nice and good family business.
The same goes for our fabrics. 80% of our fabric is produced by the same Italian manufacturer with whom we have been working with for many, many years. Just like we design every piece of clothing with love, Massimo from Italy is passionate about fibers and textures and design the most beautiful fabrics for us. A talented textile designer that we have been so lucky to find.
A couple of years ago we invited all the McVERDI team to Italy to experience the process. It was an incredible experience, which took us through all the processes of the making of a piece of fabric. From the early development to spinning the yarns, weaving, print, and finishing. Though we already knew about lots of the processes we were overwhelmed to see with our own eyes how many processes are necessary to make a piece of fabric. Suddenly I understood and respected the price of the fabric on a whole different level.
But the greatest eyeopener of the all was to meet all the dedicated people, who took care of the big machines - and in many cases done it for several years. The professional pride, the expertise and the joy of getting to show their function in the line were inspirational. We got a priceless insight into the making and how much passion and expertise are woven into the fabric we use.
Organic cotton is more and more finding the way into the collection of our fabric designers and we often remind him that it is the way it goes. That our customers request conscious fabrics and therefore we do too. Hopefully, he requests more and more organic fibers from his supplier. Because even though the market develops in the right direction most fabrics do not have a certificate and the cotton farmers need time to adapt as well. In the meantime, it gives us a certain calmness to know, that our fabrics are produced (and dyed!) under good circumstances, EU regulations and by skilled people.
So even though we do not have the right certificate, we know that our production is respectful. It can be difficult as well to find your way in the jungle of certificates. A couple of seasons ago we had a quite nice woolen knit in our collection. It was made in four colours, but sadly two of them sold better than the others and it meant that we could not get the certificate for two out of four colors due to the limited production. All colors were produced in the exact same way, but only two of them could get the official GOTS certificate. It is the same for an organic hemp/cotton we have in our upcoming summer collection. It is organic, but we can not get the certificate because the ordered quantity is too low…. isn’t that a little crazy? But on the other hand, why all that fuss - we know that the production is fine.
So what is my point? I think my point is, that we are very aware of what we do and are conscious of all decisions we make - when it comes to fabrics as well as sewing and transport. A lot of the sustainable approaches other companies use as branding is actually something we have done for years. Sustainability is not a protected term and can be interpreted in so many ways, which makes it difficult.
In McVERDI we get better every day and take small and big steps whether it is about sorting waste sorting, choice of fabrics, use of leftovers, transport, and less flying. We hope that there will soon come a genius mass alternative to plastic. We support minor companies, who have their hearts in what they do - also when it comes to choosing supplement brands for our shops.
Be conscious - it is the right way to go for all of us. Choose quality over quantity. Support the local business. Choose products with soul and charm. Choose products with a sender and a history. I dream that it is the way it all goes. Both personal as a consumer and a world citizen, but also when I lay sleepless at night fearing that everyone suddenly stops buying clothes… because then we would not be here - and that gives me stomach aches.
Today it is Black Friday - and even though we would love you to visit, we chose not to be a part of the race this year (we are open though). It can be difficult to choose not to participate because we renounce a not insignificant Friday turn over. It looks so easy and calls for respect when the big mastodons denounce Black Friday with contempt. At the same time, I understand how the phenomena of Black Friday can be attractive and indispensable if you are a little shop. Once it was the big chains who went crazy about Black Friday sales, but today it is actually a very important day for a lot of small shops doing their best every day to fight for their important place in the cityscape. All taken into consideration; McVERDI makes a living of selling full price garments and we believe it is how it should be. We have two annual sales, the freedom to have a couple of well considered offers through the year and rare stock sales. We love the energy and throng of people when we start the sale. We love it when the shop is full of chit chat and good atmosphere when you all come at once. We wouldn’t be without that.
Are you going to shop on Black Friday? I can not encourage enough to support local shops and businesses! All the small shops making our cityscape more alive, cozier and add personality to the shopping experience. And are you not into Black Friday - then come and visit us! Even though the weather is cold, rough and November like - the view here in Aalsgaarde where I am sitting is always beautiful and Rie just made a pot of coffee :-)
It was some of our thoughts about Black Friday and sustainability. Please believe that we really do our best and are very aware of the impact we have as a small fashion brand.
All the best