Sustainable men’s fashion still seems to be a niche. Or, to be more clear – finding casual, classy, good-looking items is not always that easy! That’s why we are especially happy to introduce you to Spanish brand ‘ecuomo’ and its founder Miguel Martin. Not only do they design and produce their shirts in Spain according to very strict and clear regulations, their shirts also look pretty amazing. But see for yourself!
Hey Miguel, could you briefly introduce yourself, please?
I am Miguel Martin. Currently, I am working as a consultant for development agencies such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the International Finance Corporation, among others. I am interested in sustainable development and also in the fashion sector since my family has several clothes stores in Almeria, Spain. Furthermore, I was working for Inditex (a multination clothing company from Spain) while I was living in Vancouver between 2012 and 2013. I have also been involved in the development of fashionomics, an African Development Bank project to support the fashion sector in Africa.
When was your brand founded, and what drove you into doing so?
Ecuomo was founded last year (2017). The objective was to create a fashion brand focused on sustainability and ethics. This is the reason why we always use sustainable fabrics, organic cotton, recycled materials for the buttons, labels, and bags. Additionally, we produce our shirts in Malaga, Spain, where the worker’s conditions are under the regulations of the European Union and Spain. Ecuomo also collaborates with ASWE (Association of the Williams syndrome of Spain); we have signed an agreement to donate part of the income of ecuomo to this association.
How many people work at the label, how important were and are big or small working structures for you?
We are a very young organization. At the moment, I am the only person working at ecuomo but we have a network of companies and organizations that work with us, an example of this is our collaboration with The Circular Project, they sell our shirts online and in-store in Madrid, Spain, and they also help us with marketing.
Do you mostly sell your clothes online or also in-store, and for which reasons?
We sell our clothes through our website and in the store that The Circular Project has in Madrid. We do not have a physical store because for now, we only offer shirts. We will have the capacity to have a physical store in the future as soon as we have more resources and a wide variety of products. At the same time, we are working on the development of our website to sell our products within Europe! We hope to have everything ready by next month.
How about the sustainable fashion scene in your home country – is there a lot going on, can one notice a shift towards more sustainability?
In my opinion, the sustainable fashion is necessary and is a trend that is growing globally. In Spain, we have many companies that are trying to develop a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of environmental impact and social responsibility. Ecuomo, as part of these new brands, wants to demonstrate the possibility of creating fashion with ethical and sustainable values. For this reason, we use sustainable raw materials and we manufacture in Spain, to take care of the environment in our processes and to make sure that the working conditions of the employees are as good as possible.
What difficulties do you often have to deal with and how do you solve them?
For us it is difficult to find suppliers, if you want to found a fashion brand you will find several fabrics but if you are looking just for organic cotton and those kinds of fabrics you probably will have difficulties to find a wide variety of fabrics and suppliers.
Furthermore, the prices are higher than the regular materials and of course this has a certain impact on the final price of the products, which is why we have decided to work with profit margins far below the margins of the fashion sector in general.
Out of curiosity: How did you find out about Lebenskleidung?
I found your brand on the internet. After that and having talked to people related to the sustainable fashion industry, I realized that Lebenskleidung are a famous brand.
What does sustainability mean for you – in your job, but also personally?
As I said before, I am working as a consultant for development agencies, so I am involved in several projects related to human development, climate change, and sustainability. Furthermore, I try not to generate a negative impact on the environment and in the society in my regular daily activities.
How important are network-structures for you – do you regularly participate in roundtables or fairs etc.?
In my opinion this is one of the most important factors to manage a brand, but unfortunately, I am working full time now so I do not have enough time to go to all the events I would want to go to. I think network-structures are essential to managing a successful brand.
What would the ideal consumer landscape look like for you?
For me, an ethical consumption is the most important tool to lead the change to a sustainable fashion industry. Entrepreneurs like me can offer sustainable products to the market but the change has to be leaded by the society. To be honest, I do not have an ideal consumer, every person interested in sustainability and corporate social responsibility should select brands like ecuomo or Lebenskleidung to help us change the industry as soon as possible!