As a company, our aim is to inspire people to wear our two labels: Dark Sentinel and DSent. We achieve this through having distinctive, recognisable casual and fitness designs that strike the balance between high quality and affordability. The rules we set ourselves in delivering this aim are derived from our values. These are:
- we demand that all workers involved in our supply chains are treated respectfully and paid fairly;
- we ensure that practices are ethical and materials used are produced and printed in the most environmentally sensitive way;
- we seek innovative ways to improve what we offer;
- we treat each order is if it were our only order.
Taken together, these values are what we mean when we talk about being ethical.
Ethics in clothing companies
We love clothing, we love designing great clothes and wearing great clothes. Clothing companies, though, have a lot to answer for, whether it's environmental damage, workers' rights or the insidious marketing ploys so that people buy far more clothes than they need simply to stay 'on trend'.
When we started as a company, we knew we could play along with this or do things our way, which meant doing it ethically. It was an obvious choice.
For us it's not some pretend statement. We've built ethics into every strand of our operations. On a practical level, this means that:
- many of our items are made when a customer places an order, including leggins which are sublimation printed before being cut and sewn;
- it means using eco-friendly printing on-tshirts that requires a fixative that sometimes smells of vinegar and can leave small yellow-whitish stains (the smell and splash marks both disappear with the first wash, and clothing should always be washed before wearing for the first time);
- it means more handling for us and lower profit margins;
- it means only using accredited partners and those we can personally verify, adding considerably to our costs;
- it means we use high quality material, whether ringspun cotton or polyester that's been manufactured to the strictest environmental standards;
- it means that when it's environmentally efficient to produce some items in bulk there's a gap in our store when these sell out as we're not able to print them individually and retain continuity (combining methods is wasteful).
We regard these as the cost of operating ethically. Sometimes we ask our customers to accept the cost (such as a faint vinegar smell on items before they're washed, or waiting an extra few days for their items because each has been printed and sewn only when ordered) but mostly it's hidden, behind the scenes, visible only to us. We could reduce or eliminate these costs but that would mean cutting corners, pretending to care. There are enough brands doing that already.
Fortunately, our values and approach resonates with our community. Many people are frustrated by how shallow clothing companies have become as they chase fast fashion, by the pretense of caring while behaving unethically, by companies that only do the right thing when they're caught doing wrong. Our customers share our philosophy and like what we do enough to wear what we produce; it is for this reason that we'll keep on doing it.