Do you know what being an Ethical Fashion Brand means?
Sumissura is an ethical fashion brand. And that means a lot of things. To start with, our tailors working in our factory in Shanghai have fair contracts and enjoy medical and other comprehensive benefits for themselves and their families. They don’t just have a job; they have careers. Our commitment to sweatshop-free labor practices is a long-term investment and a demonstration that ethical and sustainable business is viable.
Every customer is extremely important to us because you are supporting these sustainable practices. That's why we are always there for you to offer you the best quality made to measure clothing at an affordable price.
Do you know our story?
Our brother brand Hockerty was founded by three young entrepreneurs in their early 20s as they realized it was difficult to find affordable tailor-made clothing. Like majority of startups, they started from their own apartment with money they could only borrow from friends and family. In the past ten years, they have never forgotten their original vision, “the desire to offer comfortable, elegant and perfectly fitted clothing throughout the world.“
In 2013, a new fashion brand was established. A company that offers made-to-measure clothing for women - Sumissura. Sumissura has been pretty successful from the beginning. By offering a wide range of women fashion pieces, such as dresses, suits, blouses and coats, Sumissura gives women the opportunity to find their perfect fit by keeping the same brand promise: offering perfectly fitted clothing at an affordable price.
When Hockerty was founded, we decided that Shanghai is an ideal place to produce custom-made garments. Not many people know this but the city has a long tailoring tradition. When the French and English were trading in the markets close to the banks of the Huangpu River, some of the first tailors noticed the peculiar western clothing and decided to provide a quality and handcrafted service, creating one of the most valuable guilds in the area. This tradition has been maintained ever since. When founding Hockerty, we just connected this tradition with the rest of the world through our website, allowing each customer to design their own garments and have them delivered to their home, made to their own measurements.
When Sumissura was founded, it was an easy decision to pick Shanghai again as we already experienced the quality from the first hand. Today, we plan to continue developing new products that could also be personalized and made to measure. Consequently, we will then look for an area in the world that has some similar tradition and quality, in order to offer to our customers made to measure clothing at the best price, produced in a fair and sustainable way.
Why do we consider ourselves a sustainable brand?
We believe that the concept of sustainability is at the heart of our business. Thanks to producing tailor-made clothing, we are proud to do things in a way that does not harm the environment and supports the social structure of the areas of our production. Following are a few examples:
- By making each garment individually for every single customer, we avoid one of the biggest problems of traditional fashion brands: we don't generate stocks. Since we do not have to calculate production, each garment we sew will be a garment that the customer will really wear. At the end of any season, we don't have to get rid of mountains of garments, neither selling them by weight nor dumping them.
- We are controlling our production centers. We have the information about how, where and by whom every one of our garments was produced. We will say it clearly: we are doing this to be able to control all the processes in our fabrics and the quality of our products. That also implies being able to guarantee the working conditions that are appropriate for a ethical fashion brand.
- We have been producing tailor-made suits and shirts since 2008, and as of today, when this article is reviewed (April 2020), we are still working with most of the suppliers we started with. We have long-term relationships with our suppliers. It has not been a bed of roses. It hasn't always gone smoothly. But we believe in the power of trust and of doing things right. That's why we and our partners have grown together and added value to each other. We believe that the end doesn't justify the means with suppliers. For us, the quality of the product and the well-being of the workers are more important than the business margins.
- Returns: Obviously we are not perfect, and we make mistakes. That is why sometimes a ready-made garment does not fit right the first time. Our policy makes it very clear: that garment must be adjusted. We cover the costs. This means that the customer takes the garment to her local tailor to adjust it to fit her perfectly. By doing so, we achieve several things: 1. The garment will fit perfectly. 2. We support local tailoring businesses. 3. We save unnecessary CO2 from transporting packages. It is true that sometimes a garment cannot be fixed. In that case, we produce the garment again and the one the customer returns is donated to a local NGO. This happens in 3% of the orders we receive.
We are far from being a perfect company when it comes to ethical and sustainable fashion making. That is why we continue to work hard every day. As an example, we've made a lot of progress on the logistics side in the past months. Optimizing the way we send our orders, the frequency and grouping of shipments, size or the format of the package. And there is still a lot of progress to be made. Every day new initiatives and new materials emerge that allow us to continue optimization in this regard.
On the other hand, we see a big chance for improvement in fabric sourcing. Our supply of ecological and organic fabrics is still small. We have not yet found the suppliers who can guarantee both the ecological source and good prices for organic fabrics. However, we are also noticing very interesting initiatives and options emerging every day. For example, fabrics with very low water consumption in their dyeing process (we are talking about a fraction of traditional water consumption) or changes in origin of the yarn. Just to illustrate two of them: fibers for fabrics produced from recycled plastic or others made from bamboo fibers and other recycled wood. It takes a long time to be able to certify the veracity of a supplier's manufacturing processes and it is our duty to continue working in this direction in order to offer a wider range of 100% ecological fabrics.
In the end, I would like to thank our customers for the commitment they have made to our business model. It is, after all, the driving force that allows us to keep working and improving in this aspect. We promise to continue improving in the future and hope that our way of doing things will be the rule, not the exception. The change begins with all of us - brands and consumers demanding fair behaviour both towards our employees and nature.
co-founder of Sumissura