What do you value in your life? What does sustainability mean to you personally?

These were the questions I started asking myself 7 years ago while reflecting on my own work as a sustainable designer.

These are not the easiest or sexiest questions to think about. Particularly in a business context where a fashion brand wants a quick-win solution for sustainable product development or strategy. But through my work consulting to design and product teams, I had come to understand that any engagement with sustainable or circular business strategy needs to include a mapping of personal and company values.

So what are values and why are they so important for brands and change-makers in the sustainable fashion space? All humans seek to survive, thrive and live a meaningful life. Values are one’s judgement about what is important in this search for a meaningful life.

Someone may value animal rights and freedom most highly, which means they follow a vegan lifestyle and choose work that gives them flexibility. From a brand perspective, a priority may be vegan materials and regenerative agriculture practices in supply chains.

Someone else might value environmental protection and creativity most highly, which means they live a zero-waste life and work in the creative industries. From a brand perspective, the focus may be on non-toxic materials and upcycled products from a customer take-back scheme.

Our values determine our behaviours but if we lack clarity on what gives us meaning, we’ll lose focus and motivation and be unwilling to contribute to the greater good on ‘bigger than self’ issues like sustainability.

The tools I have developed for values mapping with organisations always start with each individual team member. Everyone is asked to reflect on what sustainability means to them personally and how they bring these values into their everyday life. Then we link their own values around sustainability to the brand. The personal has to connect with the brand values.

So for brands, what are the benefits to doing the values mapping:

  • Build a sustainability strategy founded on an authentic vision that avoids ‘green-washing’
  • Get stronger ‘buy in’ from stakeholders  – customers, suppliers and teams
  • Harmonise your business proposition with your sustainability values
  • Bring greater clarity to how you communicate your sustainability strategy

We’ve got the tools to help you do this value mapping and to align your fashion business with your values. Get in touch for our 1:1 coaching or to discuss how we can work with your organisation.

Image: Trend Tablet