Monday 7 December 2015

Not My Style: Disrupting The Way We Shop?

You want to shop ethically. As a big fan of The View From The Pier, you know that we urge consumers to think about how they buy, use and re-use their clothes, as active contributors to the ethical fashion scene. But it's tough. Brands launch new initiatives and campaigns all the time. Does a limited-edition run of an eco-conscious range mean that a high street brand can be trusted with your green pounds? Or are there other nasties lurking under the surface: pollution, worker abuse, unsafe or dangerous premises?

The thing is, short of doing the research every time you pop out to buy a pair of socks, it's hard to be sure that you're doing the right thing. Which is why a new app currently looking for funding through Kickstarter might just be the answer to your ethical shopping dilemma.

Not My Style takes the information you need to make informed decisions on the clothes you buy and presents them in an easy-to-see way, on a device we all carry with us every day: our smartphones.

The app gathers assessments from leading industry research and overlays it with a review of consumer-facing transparency. In other words: how easy is it for you to find out from stores how the workers in their supply chains are treated? There's also an opportunity for the brands themselves to contribute to the assessment.

Not My Style distills that data into a simple ranking, on a slick, stylish app. You can then make an informed choice about where you want to shop and ensure your style matches your values.

Here's the thing: for Not My Style to work, it has to be collaborative. This, from the Kickstarter pitch, tells you more:

Our mission will only be achieved if thousands of shoppers use our app - that way the brands will have to listen. So our challenge is to build an addictive app that shoppers will want to use and ensure we effectively promote it across the country - and maybe one day the world. We will know we’ve been successful when more brands tell the full story so that savvy shoppers can make informed choices about where to spend their money.
We are also making sure we are on sound legal ground, and will rely on the help of the TrustLaw network to access pro bono support to make sure we are giving you the best information we can.
Finally, we need to make sure you – and the world – trust our ranking system. Our team already brings a lot of expertise in this field and we’ll be working with industry experts to ensure we build something you can put your faith in. We also hope our users and supporters (you!) will provide us with feedback as we go along.
It's an ambitious plan, with room to grow. One of the founder's visions is to use Not My Style as a kind of fashion aggregator, an ethical Asos, if you will. By building that functionality that gives you the information you need when you need (and by using GPS, how close you are to the nearest ethical outlet) the hope is that people power will start to nudge the big brands in the right direction.

It's clever, forward-thinking stuff that puts power quite literally in the consumer's pocket. And with a green-to-red light ranking, it couldn't be simpler to use.

Our View: brands are often elusive about their record on ethical issues. Building transparency into the everyday shopping experience is a very good idea, and we applaud the creators of Not My Style for making something that could well be a game-changer.

BREAKING: Good news! With 11 days to go, Not My Style has reached its funding target. There's still time to get in on the ground floor and be part of the community. For more, check out Not My Style's fundraising page.

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