Maxine Bédat is a lawyer and one of the co-founders of Zady, an e-commerce platform and lifestyle destination for conscious consumers. Zady is amongst the first online retailers to seamlessly integrate affordable ethically-made garments and accessories, rich media content and social media to provide customers with a dynamic shopping experience.
1. For those who are not familiar with Zady’s “New Standard” what is it?
The New Standard is the only fully integrated research-backed approach to apparel design and production. To put it simply, it brings all the science and research together to guide us, or any other brand, on how to design clothes and what materials to use to create a clothing system that is sustainable.
2. How difficult is it really to produce garments in accordance with your standards of transparency, etc.?
It’s not rocket science. Sure it requires asking questions and doing due diligence to receive confirmations of responses. And it requires designing and making clothing that has design integrity, meaning it’s clothing that is designed and created to be worn for generations, not just one season. But this can be done.
3. So, why not just create a collection of cheap, trendy fast fashion garments?
I got started in all of this as a consumer. I grew up on that cheap, trendy fast fashion. But a few years of that and there was a moment, my closet was exploding with clothing, and I still couldn’t find anything to wear. That was the start of it for me. I began by really taking the time to learn what I like, what is my style, not what is the style that is imposed on me. And that was the beginning of exploring fashion and the industry.
4. With all of the different elements at play – whether it be human rights abuses, pollution, etc. – what is one question everyone should ask themselves before purchasing a garment?
Do I want this? I know it is stupidly simple, but there are so many messages being pushed at us by these companies. Just buy this $15 skirt and you will be happy and sexy. The apparel industry is the largest employer of women globally, and yet 98% of them are not receiving a living wage. On the other side of the supply chain, women are the ones being pushed messages of inadequacy just to push to new product. If we just ask ourselves the simple question, “Do I want this?”, we can actually change the world.
5. Do you have any advice for people who want to start shopping more consciously?
Start by looking inside the garment. Take note of the material. Is the piece synthetic or is it natural? Natural materials will biodegrade, synthetics, like polyester are made plastic. Look at the construction of the garment, is it going to last in the wash or is it falling apart already. Then think of your purchases in terms of cost per wear. That helps not to be seduced by cheap clothes with cheap price tags.
6. What individuals/brands do you think are really making an impact in fashion right now (for whatever reason)?
Emma Watson because she is really thinking about these issues. Patagonia and Eileen Fisher because they are making sincere efforts at making their supply chains sustainable, and they are not misleading.
7. What was the last thing that really fascinated you?
I have to say I’m quite consumed with the election. I’m just trying to understand where we are in the world, and what it means. I like to believe as MLK said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. We as citizens, as consumers are the only ones to make that a reality.
8. In fashion, I wish there was less …Production for production’s sake.
9. In fashion, I wish there was more …Good design.
10. Right now, I am a big fan of … People who are speaking up and seeing that we all have agency to either solve our challenges or stay silent and be a part of the problem.
* This story first appeared on The Fashion Law