We didn’t start Nisolo just to sell shoes or to only make a difference in the lives of the people within our direct supply chain. Rather, our vision is to push the entire fashion industry in a more sustainable direction that values people and the planet just as much as the end consumer.
Nisolo, loosely translated, means “neither alone” in Spanish, and there are two primary reasons we decided on this name. On one hand, “ni-solo” is the idea that neither consumers nor producers are alone–we are both present and interconnected on the same planet and only a flight away from one another’s front doors. The fashion industry has refused to embrace this reality, which has resulted in an isolated way of living where we almost never think about who made our clothes, how they were treated, or what the impact might have been on our planet.
We also named the brand “neither alone” because we knew that we could change very little by ourselves. We’re in business to rewrite the way our industry operates. We’ve known from day one this would require collaboration with others, even if those “others” mean our direct competitors. We’ve done a lot of collaborations over the years, but lately, largely out of a desire to accelerate the pace at which progress occurs in our industry, we’ve taken collaborations to a new level. In the last few weeks, we partnered with a direct competitor to publish the lowest wages in our supply chain and to call on all other brands in the fashion industry to publish their lowest wages through the #LowestWageChallenge.
Today, we’re partnering with 21 additional brands to bring you the Nisolo Ethical Marketplace–a platform that not only celebrates brands who are doing great work but also makes sustainable shopping much easier for you with everything found in one place. This marketplace is our next step in pursuing our vision of pushing the fashion direction in a more sustainable direction.
Creating one clear destination in the ocean of “sustainability”
Consumer demand for sustainable products (or ethical products, fair trade products, eco-friendly products, etc.) is on the rise faster now than at any other point in history. As a result, the market has responded and “sustainability” is all over fashion trend reports. A new “ethical” brand seems to pop up every few days, and almost all brands are beginning to use language that promotes their supply chain practices in some manner. While this is a good thing in many ways, these market shifts also create new challenges for the industry and for consumers as well.
A few years ago it was easy to keep up with your favorite sustainable glasses brand or your favorite clothing or shoe brand. Now, everything has changed. There truly are a lot of really great brands out there now, but knowing which ones have legitimate supply chain practices and which ones are just good at marketing is a real concern. And, even keeping up with those demonstrating a high degree of integrity can be exhausting. Whether you are new to ethical fashion and sustainable shopping or have been at this for a long time, one goal for our marketplace is to provide an easy opportunity for customers to discover great brands in one place–shopping best sellers through one consistent experience.
Expanding the positive impact customers can make
In pursuit of our vision to push the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction, another goal of the marketplace is to expand the impact that our customers can create through their purchases. Of our 21 brand partners, five are certified B Corporations, and six are members of 1% For The Planet, meaning they give at least 1% of annual sales to environmental causes. All are committed to distinct forms of social and environmental impact, which include things like eliminating single-use plastics, ocean cleanup, conservation, sustainable agriculture, championing the work of independent artisans, advocating for living wages, and providing humanitarian medical aid. Central to the heart of each of our partners is a philanthropic business model that gives back to society and the environment more than it takes away. You can see the specific impact each of our partners is having in the “brand” tab to the right of the “description” and “details” tabs on each of our product pages.
Protecting the integrity of “sustainability”
Just as demand for better practices in the fashion industry rises, greenwashing–brands talking “sustainably” but not being able to back it up–increases more and more every day. The industry is arriving to a critical turning point where consumers and brands who truly care about people and the planet need to work together to ensure that the fashion industry does not become the same old broken system of practices with different, more “sustainable” marketing language to make everyone feel better about themselves. This sounds harsh, but this is a real possibility that would unfortunately come at the expense of the wellbeing of millions of people and our planet if we aren’t careful.
Another reason we created this ethical marketplace is because our customers have asked us for a long time who they should trust and where they should shop outside of Nisolo. Our aim with the marketplace is to offer several brands to choose from who we believe can back up their claims of sustainability.
Our Ethical Marketplace Supplier Code of Conduct
Our goal is to do most of the due diligence for our customers by ensuring aligned values around driving positive social and environmental impact and vetting each brand against our Nisolo Supplier Code of Conduct. 100% of the brands in our marketplace have signed the Nisolo Code of Conduct. Our Code of Conduct was largely developed from the Social Accountability International’s SA8000 standard, “an auditable certification standard that encourages organizations to develop, maintain, and apply socially acceptable practices in the workplace.” We are committed to applying our Code of Conduct across all of our brand partners’ operations, which is why we require brand partners to evaluate their suppliers’ practices against these standards and provide confirmation that they are in compliance with them. All brand partners must implement this Code of Conduct and applicable laws into their suppliers’ business practices and submit to verification and monitoring.
Here are some of the themes covered within the Nisolo Code of Conduct that each brand signed:
Brand partners’ suppliers shall implement policies and employment conditions that respect workers and guarantee their rights under local, national, and international labor and social security laws and regulations.
Brand partners’ suppliers may not discriminate against its employees during any stage of the employment relationship on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, color, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, medical condition, political opinion, union affiliation, social group, marital status, pregnancy or any other classification protected by local, national, and international law.
Harassment or Abuse
Brand partners’ suppliers are required to treat all employees with respect and dignity. No employee shall be subject to physical, psychological, verbal harassment or abuse or to monetary fines as a disciplinary practice.
Brand partners’ suppliers must not use involuntary or forced labor, whether indentured, bonded, prison or labor obtained through slavery or human trafficking. Workers must not be required to lodge deposits or identity papers upon commencing employment with the supplier.
Brand partners’ suppliers must not employ anyone under the age of 18, or the legal minimum age in the given country of production.
Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining
Brand partners’ suppliers must respect workers’ rights to form and join labor unions, and bargain collectively.
Health and Safety
Brand partners’ suppliers must provide their workers with a safe, healthy and clean working environment. All employees must receive the appropriate training for their position and protection to avoid workplace accidents.
Hours of Work
Brand partners’ suppliers shall not require workers to work more than the regular and overtime hours allowed by the law of the country where the workers are employed. The regular workweek shall not exceed 48 hours or the maximum allowed by the law of the country of manufacture, whichever is less. Employees shall be allowed at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in every seven-day period. All overtime work shall be consensual and free from reprisal if declined. Employers shall not request overtime on a regular basis and shall compensate all overtime work at a premium rate. The sum of regular and overtime hours in a week shall not exceed 60 hours or the maximum allowed by the law of the country of manufacture, whichever is less.
Wages paid for a standard workweek must meet the legal and industry standards and be sufficient to meet the basic needs of workers and their families.
We ask all brand partners’ suppliers to commit to identifying and reducing their environmental impact. We require them to treat their wastewater and recommend measuring resource consumption (water, energy, greenhouse gas emissions, etc.) and implementing renewable energy sources.
You, our customers, make this impact possible
Ultimately, you are the ones who make the social and environmental impact of brands like ours and those in this marketplace possible. In fact, you have already had an impact through this marketplace. In large part, we developed this marketplace only because our customers asked for it time and time again. Before it even launched, this marketplace was making a difference.
In full transparency, one of the brands in our marketplace hesitated to sign our Code of Conduct because they were unsure if their workers were receiving a living wage. This prompted them to dive in head first to find out. Their team discovered that a wage increase was needed in order to get the full team up to a living wage, and a plan was put in place to make the needed change. While this is one small story, we believe it will be the first of many to come as a result of your support. We hope this marketplace makes ethical shopping more accessible to you, and we thank you for collaborating with us to push the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction.