Clare Lissaman

Clare Lissaman

Product & Impact Director at Mysource and the Ethical Fashion Forum. Specialist in labour standards in global supply chains & fair trade. Co-founder


  • You will have access to it for a year after the course has ended.

  • Great to hear. And especially that you feel part of a community and movement - that's how we feel too.

  • Yes, you will be able to access it for a year. Also keep an eye on source.ethicalfashionforum,com as we move into the next stage of our development with which should also be of help to you.

  • You're very welcome, glad you found it useful. Do keep in touch.

  • Exactly.

  • It depends on many factors: the brand, the target customer, the product etc etc - one is not better than the other - it will depend on what you are trying to achieve.

  • Yes. And the increased flexibilisation of labour, using agency and contract staff, makes it easier for exploited trafficked labour.

  • How do cultural factors come into play here? In some places what I interpret as 'gloomy' may be considered a respectful fact. Likewise, being polite to visitors and putting on a happy face may be considered respectful even when people are feeling down.

    I'm not saying that it's not possible to get the feel of a workplace, but be really aware of your own...

  • How will you make sure of it? What if you ask the factory and they tell you they are obeying the law but they are lying? How would you find this out? (This is one of the things that social audits try to ascertain but even trained auditors find it hard when factories have coached workers to lie to those who ask, when fake books are presented etc etc.) I'm...

  • Yes. There's a big difference between cheap and value for money. This doesn't necessarily mean more costly though and I'm not sure I would agree that more expensive always equals better. Need to assess what is being delivered and what the value is for the price.

  • Great tips, thank you.

  • Well done all of you on completing the course. We're really glad you found it interesting and useful - and thanks for all the helpful feedback too.

    Do keep in touch with us at and let us know how you're getting on with developing your businesses. (Those of you who are planning to do this.)

  • Who is your customer? What are the hashtags that they use the most? Use those. The hashtag is the digital equivalent of being where your customers are.
    This is why it's so super important to know who your customer is.

  • Re Intstagram: you may find this article that we recently published on SOURCE Intelligence also helpful

  • >>We have customers come to our site when the independents are out of stock of a product they have seen in store.

    That's really interesting. How do you know this is how they have come to your shop direct after seeing but failing to buy elsewhere. Is it because they email and tell you? Or....?

  • @Patrice: do you want to set up a drop-shipping store only selling ethical/sustainable products or do you have an ethical/sustainable product that you are looking for a drop-ship store to stock/showcase? Where are you based? In the UK there are many drop-ship online stores focussing on ethical/sustainable goods springing up.

  • It's not easy. There are various articles online with tips. We've also published a few pieces on SOURCE Intelligence (I think these are all only viewable to subscribers...

  • Even with an online store it's definitely hard if the business is undercapitalised.

  • Oh that is interesting. Other brands have also found that physical selling - fairs, markets pop-up shops etc - helps drive people to the e-commerce site. The idea being once people have found you in reality they're more likely to shop with you online in future.

    Also, top tip, every time you do a physical event, have a 'sign up to our mailing list' sheet...

  • Have you found a distributor yet? If so are you able to share with the group here how you found them. That's one of things many start-up businesses find difficult.

  • We really want to highlight just how important the last of your points is. At the Ethical Fashion Forum we have seen so many splendid brands with actually very good products, let down by the quality of their images.

  • Which social media channel do you find the most effective?

  • If you are looking for a retail website there are various E-Commerce platforms where you can get an e-shop off the shelf. Shopify is one, there are others.

  • Some very good points.

  • How would you define 'not overworked'? There is international and national legislation around this? How would you check that? What if the national legislation allows for hours of work that you would consider 'overwork'?

  • "I can see myself working here" is very subjective though. I agree that gut feel can be helpful, but use it as just one criteria in assessing a workplace. Some factories can be beautiful and clean and shiny and look great but still have e.g. endemic sexual harassment.
    Some can look not so great but have brilliant owner-worker relations, good working hours...

  • Good points both about sub-contracting and the role that Buying Houses can play.

  • It is very costly. And much critiqued for not actually delivering improvements for workers. But if you are working with a supplier who has been audited, you may as well use that information as part of your assessment of them.

  • If you are a small brand who wants to be ethical and sustainable and is buying from larger factories (the kind who are likely to have been audited as they supply major chains) then if you are not doing this then the question would be what else are you doing to check whether your supplier is meeting your sustainable criteria?

    As said, social audits are...

  • Thanks for letting us know about the broken links. Have corrected and they should work now.

  • Oh thanks for letting us know about the broken link. Try this one, it should work

  • Do look up also Pro Ecuador - they work with amazing artisan groups.

  • There are some great suppliers of organic cotton fabrics listed in the SOURCE directory
    It will depend on whether you are after woven fabric or knitted fabric (jersey) and what quantity you want.

    You can also see the recordings and lookbooks from the 2015 SOURCE Expo which lay out clearly...

  • >It is completely different if a group of people decide to employ themselves by working from home, like it happens with artisans.

    It's not always so clear cut though - self-employed artisans may be so because there is no other choice and they may struggle to find enough of a market and make an income.

  • Great to reference the legislation on this.

  • Great discussion. Obviously the impacts will vary from supply chain to supply chain - but farming and dyeing have obvious potential large environmental impacts due to the direct use of land and water. Waste happens at every stage and yes, transport is also a factor.

    Garment factories are likely to be where the largest number of people are employed or...

  • Obviously one can, and should, trade fairly with producers whereever they are and the principles remain the same. But "fair trade" as a more defined term does generally imply producers in the south as they are generally the ones who are most marginalised and in poverty by the inequities of global trade and/or where the 'fair trade' movement has seen trade as...

  • Drop us your details -

  • Thank you. It's most definitely not easy but it is possible.

  • Attitude is important for sure.

  • That sounds great. Do let us know how you get on.

  • I can sew a button and darn a sock but not so handy with a sewing machine. Am in awe of the skill of our tailors.

  • Thank you.

  • Thank you. We love India too. And most of our cotton is grown in Odisha (I believe that's where you are, is that rights?) It comes from Pratima Organic. Ranga spends quite a bit of time there.

  • Yes. Trims are missing and are a key part of supply chains.

  • Great stuff. Shows clearly that there are so many stages in just one stage of the process.

  • How about the colour? Decoration? Packing?

  • Oh and yes, well spotted, dyeing and laundering and finishing are all some of the processes that are not included in the the simple chain above. Dyeing can happen after spinning but before fabrication or after the fabric is knitted or woven or after the garment has been made.

  • Ginning is where the cotton seeds are removed from the cotton. It is a crucial part of the supply chain and in many places gins are old and very hot and dusty, working conditions can be quite bad.

  • Sadly most chains now are indeed chains and not circles. The circular aspect is definitely missing. Also, as you noted, what happens after consumption (though this is partly because this section of the course is focusing on supply).

  • Maryam, where are you based? (And thanks to everyone linking to our Guides.)

  • Absolutely.

  • People will always get more excited about the design, look and feel of the product, whether it suits them and their lifestyle. If those factors are in place AND it is sustainable people will be more able to be switched on to sustainability.

  • There's more information later in the course.

  • Thanks for sharing.

  • Good point. We could do a whole course on the circular approach to fashion design and production. Check out the Circular Transitions conference coming up in London later this year and the research being done at Chelsea School of Arts.

  • Oh yes, designing clothes that can be easily adjusted (and still look good) with weight loss and gain would be amazing.

  • Great.

  • That's fascinating to learning that the Japanese used banana fibre way back in the 13C.

  • Check out Aura Herbalwear Part of their aim is to make natural dyeing commercially viable not just a village industry.

  • Great to hear that. Do keep in touch and let us know how it goes.

  • Have you looked at Offset Warehouse, CLASS and Lebenskleidung?

  • Oh that does sound interesting.

  • Great. Glad it was helpful.

  • Hi All. Great comments so far. Do check out Joey Dang's helpful comment below re the three areas of business and how one person cannot be master of them all.

  • Great summary of what is needed. Thanks Joey.

  • Three years! Well done for persisting.

  • Peer to Peer is interesting, but as you say can be murky at the moment. Def one to watch though.

  • Teana - that's a really good point and definitely a benefit of crowd funding.

  • Out of interest, why an international brand?

  • Yes, Pinterest is useful.

  • Great.

  • Good experience. It's very easy for passionate entrepreneurs only to see what we want to see and to find evidence to back up what we want to do. Very important to take a dispassionate view and really research the market.

  • Thanks for the feedback. Useful to know that more in depth explanation of each one would be helpful, also case studies and examples. Keep an eye on as that's where more information about building sustainable fashion businesses will be published and we do try to respond to feedback about what it would be useful for us to publish.

  • Does it help to thing about it as 'things you have to do' (hygiene topics); 'things you want to do & are good at' (star topics); 'things that are important to you but not so important to customers' (development topics); 'things that particular customers may be passionate about and/or may be 'hot' issues in media' (risk topics).

  • That is the challenge isn't it. It can be difficult to prioritise, especially when there are so many urgent things needing attention, but sometimes investing time on these big building blocks can make everything easier in the long run.

  • Think small is nice.

  • You're welcome - glad you found it useful.

  • Nice.

  • That's lovely.

  • I really like this one. "Giving customers quality clothing that they can feel good about." Short, succinct and tells a story. Great stuff.

  • Some great position statements here. And some great first starts on them. But remember the Amazon example in the previous stage - it's short and it's clear.

  • Sourcing is coming up in future weeks. But a huge part of building a sustainable fashion business is about brand and market not just production and supply.

  • It's about understanding which people love your product and then finding out where they are. Simple to say, difficult to do!

  • Good focus.

  • Very interesting that you say 'supporting young people'. They are of course our future.

  • Check out Izzy Lane for sustainable wool farming.

  • May we ask which university and which course? (We're producing a piece on sustainability in university fashion courses.)

  • Good thoughts. Keep an eye on our SOURCE Intelligence. This course doesn't focus so much on animal welfare, thought it is a part of it, but from the comments it's definitely something people are interested in and we could explore more on SOURCE Intelligence

  • And yet sadly it doesn't.

  • Pleased you are enjoying it.

  • Great stuff. Bamboo is mainly just turned into viscose though which can be a very dirty process.

  • Sounds good.

  • Think of social media as just another communication channel to your customers. You need to be where they are. You don't however need to use it personally if you don't want to! (We also heard that Facebook is so normative now in Brazil that many businesses of all sizes have it as their only shop - i.e. they have no website of their own and no physical shop.)

  • Good to hear. That's why we set up the Ethical Fashion Forum in the first place. To be a forum, a place where people can come together and share.

  • Brilliant stuff so far. How about seeing if you can reduce your brand purpose down to just one short sentence. Or, how about even just three words. (Even if you end up going with your longer explanation this is a useful exercise in seeing if you can really strip everything back and get to a a clear, strong core.)

  • Have amended. Thank you for spotting. (Appalling of us, but also shows how easy it is to be swayed by cultural norms - keep this in mind as you progress through the next Weeks learning about how to ensure good practices in supply chains.)

  • Have amended. Thank you.

  • Good point. Thank you for spotting. We should amend the text to 'no point in asking a *male* plumber...'. Although actually no reason why men shouldn't wear lipstick if they want to.

  • I think you will still need to break this down more in order to have a successful sustainable brand. "People who do not think about sustainability" covers e.g. a young man who is into skateboarding, an middle aged professional woman, an elderly retired builder, a thrusting merchant banker, the woman who works behind the counter at the post office etc etc. Do...