The appetite for cheap, disposable and convenient clothing is undoubtedly growing; according to recent statistics, the UK fashion market is expected to reach a turnover of £60.17 billion in 2022. At the same time, fast fashion emissions are expected to increase by over 50% d 2030.
As experts call for urgent action to reduce the industry’s impact on the planet; big brands are still responding to consumer demand for low prices and taking advantage of apathy towards sustainable and ethical credentials. However, below the surface lies the less discussed issue of supply chain exploitation and how it disproportionately harms women.
When Matt Thomas founded Dryad, a sustainable sportswear brand exclusively for women, in 2020 alongside design expert Joby Barnard, it was one of the problems he set out to solve.
In addition to using recycled fabrics, compostable packaging, and sustainable manufacturers, Dryad is committed to making its supply chain fully transparent to ensure equitable practices and representation of women, as well as raising awareness about the massive exploitation of garment workers within the industry at large.
With 16 years of experience in climate finance and sustainability, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the environment is a driving force behind Matt’s business venture, even though it’s her involvement in competitive long-distance running which opened her eyes to gender disparities in sport.
Matt said: “Having met a number of professional female athletes through my personal interest in outdoor sports, I was shocked to find that the prize money they won at competitive events did not cover sometimes not even the cost of their trip. I became aware of the unequal opportunities for women in sport very early on and I knew that I wanted to have an impact to change that.
“Even when it came to sportswear availability, it seemed like women were an afterthought – most brands just take their menswear collections and ‘pink and shrink’ them to appeal to their female audience. That’s why we felt a women’s-focused option was needed, paying close attention to fit and style, while impacting women’s experience in the sporting sphere.
As a result, part of Dryad’s mission is to help provide better opportunities and access for women and girls in sport through initiatives with local businesses and charities to support running activities on path.
Matt continued: “Meanwhile, the apparel industry notoriously undervalues and underpays women, with a significant pay gap resulting from the tendency for men to be promoted at the expense of women. Only 1% of the top 250 fashion brands publish data on gender exploitation within their supply chains, which means the issues are not being properly addressed and women are not being advocated for. We want to reverse this trend.
“Fast fashion remains extremely popular despite its well-known adverse effects because it is so cheap, but the low cost comes at the expense of manufacturing staff who are not paid a living wage. That’s why we’ve focused on creating high-quality, durable parts that may cost more, but stand the test of time and reduce the need for regular replacement – helping us achieve our goal of slowing down the fashion consumption as well as what makes it more profitable to buy ethically.
“We have a long way to go to solve the problems we face, but we are convinced that now is the time to do so. the growth of sustainable brands is outpacing those that are not, and the growth rate of women’s participation in sport is also on the rise. This is a sign that things are moving in the right direction and we are proud to help accelerate this.
“As we grow, we want to be more and more involved in local communities and initiatives, especially our own. Dryad was born out of our love for the Brecon Beacons and being outdoors, so as we take our next steps we will share that passion with others and keep it at the heart of what we do. do.