Sharon Tsang is the COO of The R Collective and has worked closely with Aritzia, Kit & Ace and the Girlfriend Collective throughout the years. Her interest lies in the sustainable fashion manufacturing sector, specialising in sourcing and production processes. With her background in Fashion Merchandising, she oversees material innovation, sourcing and quality assurance.
We had the opportunity to talk to Sharon about the steps to validate the “sustainability” claim in the industry, how manufacturers can better market themselves, how local businesses can scale in a more sustainable way, and an upcoming marketing trend she sees in the industry.
What criterias should brands meet in order to be called “sustainable”?
With an array of experiences in working in the Sustainable Fashion sector, we asked her thoughts on the kinds of criteria brands should meet in order to be called “sustainable”.
“Brands should meet two key criteria: have sustainability built into the brand’s DNA in its business mission, values and products, and designs with circularity and transparency.”
Sharon explains that founders and leaders have to shift their existing understandings on how business is done, where it is not only driven by growth and profits, but operates in the order of: People, Planet, and Profit.
“Customers are very tech savvy and knowledgeable, it is expected that your brand exists to serve a greater purpose, rather than to just sell products and make profit.”
How can vendors and manufacturers better market themselves to stand out in the market?
When asked about how vendors can better market themselves to gain competitive edge in a highly saturated market, Sharon urges manufacturers to take the initiative in innovating and commercialising, instead of waiting on brands to lead.
“Vendors and manufacturers are the experts, they can proactively bring new ideas to the brands to help solve their sustainable goals and targets.”
She preaches the idea of collaboration, where manufacturers can collaborate with brands who are on the same journey, where the brands can act as a PR vehicle to promote partnership.
“We need to become a collective, as we are all better together”
How can local businesses scale intentionally and sustainably?
Sharon believes that the answer to sustainable scaling is to build a community with other like-minded businesses to drive change in the consumer’s purchasing habits.
“The R Collective has partnered with Hula and On on pop up shops, showcasing a collective of sustainable businesses that promotes the vision of making responsible fashion more mainstream.”
Another example Sharon includes how Redress and The R Collective approached this collaboration process.
“Our recent Denim Reimagined up-cycled collection and Levi’s Takeback program allowed us to collect the extra denim garments, where they are re-distributed, up-cycled or recycled into new products.”
This goes to show the power of community and collaboration in driving consumption change amongst your customers.
What is an upcoming sales and marketing trend that you see coming? How should Chinese manufacturers prepare?
Sharon thinks that brands will start to focusing on timeless designs that will not out of style easily, but rather applying the same design to different materials instead.
“I see fashion trends slowing down, garments being better designed for longevity, and customer investing into their garments intentionally, rather than consuming mindlessly.”
Customisation or made on demand to reduce inventory is also something Sharon sees becoming more common.
“The past two seasons have been hugely impacted by Covid, brands have not been able to sell, and inventory is piling up.”
This means buyers are more cautious in buying quantity, providing the opportunity for manufacturers to trial smaller production lines.