Treehopper is not for everyone.
While developing Treehopper, we were focussed on three key segments:
- For those who love a quality product & appreciate the craftsmanship.
- For those who want to do their part by supporting brands that ethically produce sustainable clothing (using organic natural fibers or recycled synthetics), and,
- Especially for those, who believe that we can do more in terms of environmental and social responsibilities than merely supporting brands that produce sustainable products.
As a brand focused on holistic sustainability, we began our journey with organic cotton (there is much debate whether organic cotton is truly sustainable, and we will be addressing this topic further in our upcoming blog posts), producing exceptional everyday essentials in factories where workers receive fair wages. However, unlike many other brands, we didn’t settle for merely producing high-quality essentials following ethical practices and environmental consciousness.
What started as the goal of crafting exceptional hoodies, sweatshirts, and other essential daily wear that you won't want to take off, soon led us to confront two major questions:
Issues related to sustainability are grave enough to be considered a crisis. Typically, humanity unites to work towards solutions when faced with a crisis. However, unlike sudden crises such as earthquakes or wildfires, sustainability-related challenges evolve gradually. To address this gradual but persistent situation, which largely concerns areas like climate, water, and food, a much broader participation and empathy are needed. This is essential for an effective response. Unfortunately, all the other brands seem to be missing an opportunity to help generate momentum for sustainability. The first question in front of us was: What can we do to increase awareness about sustainability, in general, without being too intrusive? (We are not big fans of graphic t-shirts or clothes bearing slogans)
Adherence to standards is not perfect, neither can more draconian regulations (think Europe) create a change in a reasonable time. The supply chain(s) in the clothes industry are highly fragmented. Due to such intricate nature it is difficult to detect and reduce abuse and also implement changes within the existing regulatory framework. And, the second question we faced was: How could we accelerate a change in manufacturing practices without disrupting the existing operations within the industry?
So instead of spending money on creating a purpose or defining a mission etc., answering these two questions (see answers below) became our figurative purpose, mission and every other jargon you can think of in between.
And, more importantly, we discovered the true essence of being a Treehopper.
Question 1: What can we do to increase awareness about sustainability, in general, without being too intrusive? (We are not big fans of graphic t-shirts or clothes bearing slogans)
Answer 1: Clothing design philosophy has not changed significantly over the decades. It is generally based on shape, color, cut, and texture. Design is often considered ephemeral and subject to frequent changes (sometimes too frequently). However, despite the transient nature of designs, the impact made by wearing those clothes lasts a considerable time. This led us to embark on a rebellious route and introduce a novel concept: integrating social objects as design artifacts; #SODA (See our FAQs for an explanation of what is meant by social objects). In essence, social objects are designs or items infused with shared meanings and emotions, holding remarkable potential to shape human interactions.
We acknowledge that not all of us are activists relentlessly pursuing major sustainability-related issues; life sometimes interferes. Nevertheless, each of us contributes to sustainability in our unique ways. The cumulative effect of these small actions is significant. What can be even more impactful is sharing what sustainability means to you with your friends and family. To serve as a catalyst or an ice-breaker, we aim to introduce an elegant, non-intrusive design artifact in the form of a social object. Go be chatty like a treehopper!"
Question 2: How could we accelerate a change in manufacturing practices without disrupting the existing operations within the industry?
Is slow fashion, or buying fewer clothes, a viable solution? When it comes to large established brands, it really boils down to financial profitability. Profitability comes from selling more and selling cheaper. When faced with a choice between financial incentives and finding ways to achieve what is commonly understood to be sustainable, there is no doubt about the winner.
More significant is the fact that they are all continuing to operate using a manufacturing model that is similar to that of well-established brands,mostly due to absence of any alternative.
Drawing from our extensive supply chain experience, we recognize a significant absence of incentives embedded within the supply chains, particularly those that could contribute to making the industry more environmentally & socially responsible.
So, we decided to take a bold step. Why limit ourselves to gathering information & being transparent about wages and living conditions of the workers?
We took it a few steps further. Our objective is to empower you to influence how we, as a brand, allocate a portion of the proceeds within our supply chain. Whether it involves promoting organic natural fibers, recycling fishing nets from the ocean, or ensuring financial stability for workers in the garment factories that remain unseen.
In late 2022, we embarked on this concept, fully aware of the complexities that lay ahead of us. We developed a custom blockchain-based application that allows us to make a direct allocation of a portion of our proceeds. These proceeds are directed to the last downstream partners who work diligently to adhere to our defined sustainability goals. The next step is to incorporate your input for each order.
Admittedly, our platform is a work in progress, but we're making significant strides. We're on track to achieve our goal of a fully functional platform by the end of 2025. If you'd like to stay updated on our progress, please subscribe to our mailing list.
We hope you'll join us on this journey & support our efforts to push the boundaries of clothing manufacturing. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us here.