How Two Sustainability-Focused Brands Have Adapted to Weather the Pandemic

So many brands have closed or declared bankruptcy due to the financial pressures of the global pandemic that it’s hard to keep track of them all. And though some citizens have pointed to this moment of unparalleled change as an opportunity to build back a more equitable, environmentally-conscious fashion industry, the truth is that small brands with a focus on ethics and are also often dealing with equally small margins, making them less likely to be able to weather the economic storm of this moment.

Even amidst news of cult favorites like Elizabeth Suzann and Matter closing, other small labels that have built their reputations on ethical production and sourcing are finding ways to hold on. Among those are and , which have each explored new business strategies to stay afloat through the ongoing pandemic.

For New York-based Mara Hoffman, it started with scaling back. The team opted to not produce the already-designed Fall 2020 collection, instead focusing on merchandising and selling existing inventory, as well as debuting a smaller number of pieces for the Spring 2021 collection.

“My team and I looked at the amount of existing inventory we were currently sitting on, and made the challenging decision to do what was ultimately most in alignment with our internal mission of doing less harm,” Hoffman wrote in a letter shared with Fashionista. “We committed ourselves to working with what we had as opposed to creating newness to pile on to an already existing mountain.”

To that end, Hoffman’s team released a very minimal lookbook and linesheets for buyers to consult for the Spring 2021 collection and created a lookbook of collaged and remixed looks to showcase what the brand is calling the “current” or “pre-Spring 2021” collection, made up of existing inventory. But seasons themselves are about to become pretty flexible, Hoffman said in her letter.

“Our plan is to add styles to our offering in season and be able to be more responsive to our customers and business as a whole,” she explained. “Within this time we also realized we were being given an opening to implement a lot of the things that we had been longing to do for years, such as restructuring our calendar to embrace a ‘buy now wear now’ philosophy.”

Opting out of the traditional fashion production calendar is something Kiwi label Maggie Marilyn plans to do, too. A representative for the brand told Fashionista via email that the label will no longer produce new collections for every season. Instead, it will release seasonless collections that…

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