The idea of growing up is one that fills most of us with dread, especially the responsibility that comes with age. Because let’s be honest, lying in bed until noon, not having to work for a living and lazing uni days away with your biggest concern being which pub you’re going to go that evening is far more appealing than joining the rat race every day, standing in someone’s armpit on the tube and working until 9pm. We don’t care how much you love your job, those carefree days were still better.
However, when it comes to brands growing up and accepting responsibility, surely that has to be a good thing. The New West End Company has recently revealed that they will be launching the first ‘smart street’ on Bird Street. A traffic-free hub of sustainable technology, it’s the first of its kind and designed to, well basically, help the world. Using PaveGen technology, electricity will be generated from pedestrian movement, while Airlite’s revolutionary air purifying paint will essentially clean the air around you. The street will have pioneering pop-ups, fashion, technology and dining establishments so you can shop until you drop and do it all responsibly.
We’re excited about it because A) it’s just downright cool, and B) because after all, we have a collective responsibility to sustain this whirling blue ball that we all call home, however, is this just the beginning of a new age of responsible retail brands?
We’re currently in the year of the movement and everyone is standing for something. Literally standing up and marching for every kind of rights and if you’re not shouting slogans you’ve been living under some kind of rock. So if public sentiment is anything to go by, brands know that they can no longer operate as huge conglomerates that eat up energy, rainforests and unethical habits. We’re in a time of inclusion, religious tolerance and the women’s rights movements is blazing as strongly as it was when Emily Davison fell under that horse and brands can’t afford to ignore that. And not all brands have been ignoring their responsibility.
H&M has championed a responsible brand by launching their Conscious Exclusive collection which features clothes made from hemp, organic linen and organic leather. They were also the first fashion brand to use a Muslim model who wore a headscarf and modest clothing, meaning they’re one of the most environmentally conscious and religiously diverse brands currently out there.
TOMs have built their entire brand on the idea of helping the world and being responsible with the money they earn by giving it back to those most in need. They fund projects from fresh water across regions with sever lack of access, as well as providing healthcare and shoes to those most in need.
The list goes on with brands such as ASOS, Made and People Tree all sourcing materials in sustainable and environmentally friendly ways. They literally make you feel good about yourself while you spend your money and carry on living a consumerist dream. Because the truth is we’re not going to stop spending, but we are in a time in which consumers are more selective about who they do give their money to. It’s yet to determine how successful the new smart street will be, but if current sentiment is an indicator, it’s bound to be a huge talking point that raises a host of other questions. And even if it doesn’t take off, it’s taking a step in the right direction and we can only hope that other brands follow suit and start standing for something, and hopefully, not in the catastrophic way Pepsi just did. We’re now living in a time where brands can’t afford to shun responsibility any longer. It’s long past time to grow up.