As a conscious business, we want to bring awareness to brands, designers and platforms who are making a positive change to the fashion industry, and make no compromise when it comes to sustainability.
Aequem is one of them and we had the pleasure to have a little chat with Magda Daniloaia, who started this sustainable online fashion store with her co-founder Ieva Balciute. We got to find out more about how they launched the platform, their process to select new brands, but also some practical tips to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle… Enjoy the reading!
Tell us about yourselves and the story of Aequem
We have started working on Aequem after both my business partner Ieva Balciute and I shared our frustration at how difficult it was to make better shopping choices. We are very environmentally conscious but also have a passion for fashion. However, we found that to find really great sustainable pieces, it was taking hours and hours of research to find the right brands, which are truly sustainable and also had to shop from several websites, which we both found really inconvenient.
We thought, wouldn’t it be great to have one destination where you can shop effortlessly and with complete peace of mind, knowing every single brand is properly vetted and is socially and environmentally sustainable? It began with my research whilst at Paris Fashion Week in February 2018, wanting to see if there are enough sustainable brands that are also fashion-forward - and I found out there were! Quite a lot! Having started with that, we embarked on this exhilarating journey and we currently stock over 60 stunning labels - and are working on getting an additional 100 onboard - we are so pleased with how much Aeqeum has grown!
Why did you decide to create a sustainable business?
Before Aequem, there was no single e-commerce destination that we could 100% trust and know that everything they feature is truly sustainable, both from a social point of view and also an environmental point of view. A lot of other platforms had ethically-minded labels which we think are still great and certainly better than the conventional options - however, we find it hard personally to call something ‘sustainable’ if the materials are not the most sustainable alternatives on the market. This is our approach which so far is unique but we wanted to be extra thorough - so we only stock certified organic, upcycled and recycled pieces or pieces made from materials that are accepted globally as sustainable. Aequem was born as a brand that offers consumers peace of mind, a wide variety and well-designed pieces that prove sustainable fashion can be fun, exciting, and something to be treasured and to feel good about!
How does Aequem play a part in the sustainable development of the fashion industry?
Aequem is unique in being the first multi-label e-commerce website to align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We wanted to support the global goals and we did this in partnership with the Conscious Fashion Campaign. This way, our customers will not only know they buy something socially and environmentally sustainable, but also know to which specific goals their purchase contributes. We believe this to create an effortless sustainable shopping experience. Furthermore, by having such strict criteria we believe we can generate more demand from the customers’ side, which will then encourage more brands to choose better with their materials, and create more change, a win-win-win situation!
What is your best tip for people who want to be more sustainable but don’t know where to start?
We think a great start is being more conscious, asking more questions, not taking things for granted, trying to avoid creating waste, and having a smaller footprint in your daily life, in all the corners of your life. We have compiled our tips with this list of small everyday changes that have a big impact over time.
At BLANC, we cannot agree more with Vivienne Westwood’s message “Buy less, choose well, make it last”. How do you consume and care for fashion sustainably?
We also couldn’t agree more - a quote to live by! We’ve always believed in buying considerately and weighing up the value/worth of a product as well as cost/wear! Often fast fashion pieces fall apart after a few washes, so they are actually pretty expensive! And so wasteful. There is a saying which we believe is brilliant, and if more of us would apply this to our lives we would have more money and the world would have less waste: “I am too poor to buy cheap things”.
Also secondhand and vintage is a favourite way for us to consume consciously as you can find so many hidden gems! And then Aequem.com is a way for fashion enthusiasts like us to buy brand new in the best possible way.
How is Aequem coping with the COVID-19 crisis and what challenges have you faced followed by the events?
There has been a lot of changes to our usual working life at Aequem. From our weekly Monday brainstorming sessions at Soho House to the general functioning of our supply chain, however we have been fully operational and we managed to adapt fairly well due to our digital-first approach (we were already ready to work remotely) as well as our no stock, no waste business model - working with drop-shipping, which means the brands send the products directly to the customers.
Only a few brands had to stop shipping for a month or two, the majority remained operational and were very happy to receive orders via our platform during this more challenging time. We have also started a series of digital events that we had on our mind for a while, Instagram Live sessions and IGTV, and were pleasantly surprised by the increased interest in sustainability during this time.
At Aequem you have a number of great partners, what is your process for choosing new partners to make sure that they are sustainable and aligned with your mission?
The vetting process for selecting new brands to stock on Aequem is a really important process that we are very careful with. The Aequem mission is to provide 100% transparency regarding the sustainable value of a brand or product. Therefore, brands that do not display these qualities aren’t considered. We look at their social aspects as well as their environmental aspects - and only accept labels with sustainable materials - certified organic, upcycled and recycled. Each of our labels also aligns with at least three of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, contributing to the larger sustainable landscape, for the benefit of us all. And of course, they need to be stylish and fashion-forward! Sustainable fashion is beautiful and looks exactly like conventional fashion, only made with better processes!
What do you hope to achieve in the future in terms of sustainability?
With Aequem and also personally, we hope to spread the word about sustainable fashion to as many people as we can. ‘Make sustainable fashion the norm!’ is a common phrase used here at Aequem and that really is the ultimate goal. Reaching consumers who otherwise would have made environmentally damaging choices and show them how accessible sustainable fashion options truly are. Also, raising awareness about sustainability in all aspects of life, this is why we often feature different companies in different fields on our blog, as we believe the approach to sustainability needs to be 360, and the more informed we are, the better. Ultimately we hope that the work that we do will only increase, as well as its effect on decreasing pollution across the globe, for preserving a better planet for us all and improving our wellbeing.