[“source-“forbes”]Ninety Percent is the London-based contemporary label that is totally wearable with their stylish laid back and super comfy vibe we all crave. And not only that, we like them because they’re human and planet-centric, a fashion label with a heart. Having launched only last year, they’ve decided to try something new in the form of sharing 90% of their profits between charitable causes.
Yes, you read that correctly. They aim to improve their social and environmental legacy with a new business model that reinvests their profits across a range of organizations that safeguard people and the planet. Co-Founder Shafiq Hassan tells us more about his start-up fashion brand.
What was your first fashionable memory? My early years were in, then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. In the late ’60s, as a preteen schoolboy, I remember asking my parents for tight drainpipe trousers, colorful flower printed shirts and pointy shoes – all at once!
What lured you into the industry? I got into this industry by sheer accident. In the mid-eighties, I was about to start a PhD in Chemical Engineering at Aston University in the UK, in when a friend of mine suggested that it would be a good idea to get into the garment industry that was about to take off in Bangladesh. For some reason, I thought a lot about this, although, I did not have any business experience or had any idea of the garment industry. However, prior to starting my PhD, I had just finished a two-year stint working for Brac, currently the world’s largest NGO and rated number one, which was dedicated to alleviating poverty. A thought came to me, if I were to get into the garment industry in Bangladesh, I would be in the business of creating employment for women, that was desperately needed in a very poor country. In an instant, my mind was made up.
Tell us about the ethics of Ninety Percent…We believe that everyone involved in Ninety Percent has to be empowered, from people who run the business, people who make our clothes and our customers, the result being a positive impact on social and environmental causes we support. We invite our customers to decide where our money goes and help us start a consumer movement that empowers makers and wearers.
How would you sum up the aesthetic of the brand? The beauty is in the simplicity with Ninety Percent, we offer detail driven staples that are casual, not athletic, feminine but not girly, modern but not austere.
What are the pillars of your brand?
1. Social and environmental standards.
Sustainability is the rock on which we sit.
We make responsible choices as to where we produce and the way our supply chain works, we partner with companies who have sustainable processes ingrained in their operations.
We are focusing on using organic cotton for all our cotton and a lot of Tencel, both of which we trust to be better options. Our design and development team are passionate and focused on the choice of materials to products being of a high standard and timeless. We want our products to be cherished, have a long life, that can be handed down, recycled and upcycled.
2. Giving back.
We will share 90% of our distributed profits between charitable causes and those who make our collections happen.
We have chosen two children charities and two environmental causes. One is the Children¹s Hope, which is a foundation set up in 2000 that is working with able and disabled children in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The other is War Child, which is an international charity that does exactly what the name says it¹s just incredible. We have also chosen to work with Big Life Foundation, which is making great strides in conservation and anti-poaching in Kenya and Tanzania. The fourth charity is WildAid, a fantastic organization that is doing enormous work to stop the demand for animal products.
3. Traceability and transparency.
Transparency is a key part of the NINETY PERCENT journey, connecting customers to the complete supply chain and sharing of profits.
What are the greatest lessons learned when it comes to the industry? The planet must come first, we need to place the greatest emphasis in taking care of our planet. When we say Mother Earth, we got to mean it. We need to take measures in choosing our raw materials and what wastes we create in manufacturing and how we manage our wastes. Retailers need to take responsibility as to what the costs are in managing these wastes and assist in paying for managing it – being ethical and eco is not free. Everything is connected and all participants need to understand this at a greater level and act.
Taking care of the welfare, health, and safety of manufacturing workers has to be the next critical priority, otherwise, it is an exploitative industry that is unsustainable.
Creating a strategic partnership between retailers and manufacturers is key towards delivering these two objectives.
Shop the label at ninetypercent.com