Fashion is in a constant state of flux, styles are always shifting and changing. Either you push culture forward and create your own unique interpretation, or you fall in line with what is currently ‘à la mode’ and quickly trend hop.
With the advent of fast fashion in recent decades, the fashion cycle moves much more quickly. Just like the 24-hour news cycle, where everything is presented in small, bite-size pieces with attention-grabbing titles as click bait, fashion turns over with much more velocity.
Technology has allowed information to disseminate with much more speed. We are no longer bound by the confines of time, and space. New collections debut in Paris and can be ripped off in Sweden a week later. Barriers to entry are also lower than ever for online retail businesses and the internet offers dreams of viral success to anyone with an idea.
The result of this new, oversaturated fashion industry, is massive waste, and huge turnover as runway styles are quickly copied, sold, and then rendered obsolete. Companies cut corners at every turn in order to maximize sales and production costs need to be kept at a minimum. It is more advantageous to pay employees the bare minimum or manufacture in places without minimum wage laws, than it is to select accredited factories. It is easier to capitalize on as many trends as possible than it is to specialize on one thing.
The net result is a race to the bottom. We’ve seen massive companies like Forever 21, Sears, and Payless shut down operations entirely, and household names like Barneys and Macys are closing many of their storefronts. We’ve spoken to retailers up and down Queen St West in Toronto’s formerly famed fashion district, and walk-in traffic was down for everyone this holiday shopping season. It’s far cheaper to go to a fast fashion retailer than it is to support an up-and-coming designer, and it’s much faster to shop online.
This economic change has come at a time when environmental issues are finally at the forefront of the collective consciousness. Climate change is real, and we need to make changes to how we consume. In the face of this, many consumers are becoming more aware of their purchasing power and are choosing to shop vintage and second hand fashion, or support local independent brands.
We want to get ahead of these changes to the industry. We want to be more sustainable, and more thoughtful about how we design and produce collections. We want to cut down on waste and give our customers a different type of fashion company to support. Unlike many companies, we don’t throw away or destroy unsold stock, and we vet all of our suppliers to ensure we are sourcing as ethically as possible, but we want to do more. We want to be part of a move towards a less destructive form of capitalism.
So what are we going to do?
- We’re moving into cyber-space. We’ve had a great run on Queen West, and have enjoyed being part of the community, but in order to do things more sustainably, we need to lower our overhead costs. In light of this, we will be closing our retail store.
We’re moving towards a primarily made-to-order business model. Like our DTG printed hoodies and t-shirts, which are printed on demand, we will be producing our main collection items in the same fashion. We’ll still drop capsule collections from time-to-time, but our focus will be on limiting waste by supplying based on demand, rather than speculative ordering from overseas.
We’ll be as transparent as possible. To the best of our ability we will tell you where everything is manufactured, and printed, and how long it will take to get to you. That way you can make an informed decision.
We will ship directly from our suppliers. We will utilize drop-shipping to limit our environmental impact and our carbon footprint. We will use suppliers who utilize multiple manufacturing hubs so that we ship from a location as close to your location as possible. If it’s easier to ship directly from New Mexico to California, then to first ship to Toronto for distribution, then we will do that. You may have to deal with multiple packages, but we will be limiting the steps taken between production and you getting to wear your new HE piece.
Fair prices, everyday. It is our goal to offer our pieces as economically as possible, from the jump, meaning less sales and a move away from the clearance model. Hayley’s designs are wearable art that is intended to be cherished for the story behind the design, rather than worn a couple times and discarded. Since we’re now going to be mostly producing in North America and Europe, some of our production costs will go up, but we’ll do our best to keep our pieces as affordable as we can.
Know ourselves, and express that authentically. We can’t compete with fast fashion, and we don’t want to. We’ve invested our time and resources into trying to be a big world-wide brand with a conscience. That is an oxymoron. Instead, we will do things smaller and truer to ourselves. Hayley is a 31-year-old woman who was raised by a single mom, she doesn’t relate to concepts like unchained growth at any cost. Instead of trying to fit in within a broken system, we will attempt to run our business our way, outside the system. We don’t need industry insiders, or purveyors of exclusivity to tell us our designs have value. We do need you.
- Same inclusive message, more designs. Without a store-front to look after, and the logistics of upfront manufacturing, Hayley can be free to design more frequently with greater authenticity. You may see more designs available, but they will only be made when you order them. If you are the only one in the world who wants a specific item in a specific print, great! You deserve a voice. Fashion is for everyone and this is the way we’ve decided to navigate the new economic reality we are faced with.
This change has been tough, and we’re not entirely sure how it will all shake down. For a while it might just be Hayley running the show by herself, but we can no longer try to fit within an industry that is inherently designed to pollute and overproduce. Planned obsolescence has always been a driving force in economics in order to keep the wheels moving. In the modern age, the process has been sped up to the point where it is no longer viable, or healthy for people or the planet. The ride is moving too fast, and we are all feeling sick. It is time to get off the roller-coaster and slow down.
Let’s try something different. The new HE is launching soon.