Coming of age of Generation Z has been the source of many changes in fashion and beauty. Their affinity for technology has fueled the wild success and growth of social platforms like Instagram and TikTok. These shoppers have given “brand ethics” a deeper meaning by leaning on a more intentional approach to shopping (such as buying second hand and prioritizing minority-owned businesses). They also tried to redefine the definition of “sexy” by calling for more body-understanding lingerie. Now the Zoomers are on their next venture: holding brands accountable for their sustainability claims. Join 23-year-old Ana Kannan, the founder of Toward, a cutting-edge retailer with a conscience.
Although Kannan grew up as a vegetarian and her parents instilled a “low-waste ethos” in her, it was only two years ago that she saw a providential opportunity to channel those values into groundbreaking activity. “I saw that there was a renewed focus on environmental and social responsibility as a result of people staying at home and seeing the impact of doing less, what has had on the planet moving less,” she tells TZR. .
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in math and economics from the University of Southern California in 2020, Kannan also saw a gap in the market for a retail space that promoted fully sustainable brands. That’s when he came up with the idea of Toward, a platform that provides consumers with metrics for brand sustainability efforts so customers can make informed decisions about the products they’re buying. With a name that implies progress, the company has a mission to disruptively create a more responsible way to purchase luxury goods and satisfy the growing desire of consumers to support ethical businesses.
“I wanted to marry the concepts of responsibility and buying things I loved,” says Kannan, who noted her distrust of fashion and the sustainability claims of beauty as a consumer.
To check brands on her own, she used to scour their websites for sustainability commitments and draw her own conclusions about the environmental friendliness of certain materials despite claims and the supply chain. For example, it raises a hypothetical brand that calls itself sustainable for the use of natural materials, such as cotton. However, traditional cotton production often uses pesticides and excessive amounts of water. Unfortunately, Kannan’s personal verification process was tiring and ineffective. “A lot of brands weren’t really willing to give that information to any buyer,” she shares.
In training Toward, by gathering that information as criteria for a label’s entry to the platform, Kannan was able to find a handful of brands she and other knowledgeable consumers could trust. “We get questions [from shoppers] all the time on manufacturing processes, material blends, etc. So, it’s really great to have concrete answers, “she says. Currently, there are just over 20 emerging and established labels that you can buy on the site, including Anna October, Leset, Closed and Vivienne Westwood.
Toward’s team closely monitors brands, asking about 100 questions to potential labels about their products and practices. The framework, which Kannan claims to have developed over the course of a year, is a means of assuring consumers that brands on Toward meet the highest standards of ethical, social and environmental responsibility by accurately measuring where a brand is and what it means. do to expand its positive impact.
It outlines a broad spectrum of sustainable business practices, including labor rights legislation and the minutiae of manufacturing processes. The rubric is divided into a number of areas of interest: transparency, emissions, materials, chemical waste, workers’ rights, biodiversity and forestry, and ethics (or how the brand can encourage responsible consumption among its consumers). The rubric is then rated on a weighted scale, as the Toward team found some issues more important than others. For example, they have given transparency a higher value than ethics because they believe that reducing emissions will have the biggest impact right now. If brands receive a rating of 65 or higher, Kannan feels confident doing business with them.
The verification process takes about a month. Toward requires brands to provide specifications for each question they answer “yes” to. For example, if a brand claims to use organic or recycled materials, it must provide a percentage of products made with that material, in addition to certification. “If a product uses EcoVero certified viscose, we want to see that certification from that government agency,” says Kannan. “Sometimes we also get certifications from third parties, such as international labor rights associations. Sometimes brands ask them to carry out audits on their behalf. ”
These procedures are also great ways to learn what makes each brand unique. “One thing I really love [Savannah Morrow The Label] it’s his use of peace silk, ”he explains. “Previously, when making silk items, silkworms were boiled alive and died in the process. But with peace silk, these silkworms are alive and well. ”There’s also AGOLDE, a famous denim brand that recycles 90 percent of the water used in the manufacturing process. It also uses recycled leather in its collections.
Even after Toward has introduced a brand into its orbit, the evaluation process is ongoing, so that it can be held accountable. Additionally, the column is continually updated to reflect an acute and current understanding of fashion sustainability, assures Kannan. In addition to its e-commerce presence, Toward will also open its first brick and mortar store on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood later this month. If the Los Angeles store performs as they hope, Kannan says Toward will expand to other locations on the West Coast and then head east.
You can buy some of TZR’s favorite pieces from Toward, forward. However, you should be aware that the Toward team has set a purchase limit of 12 orders per year to help consumers make informed purchases.
We at TZR only include products that have been independently selected by our editors. We may receive a portion of the sales if you purchase a product via a link in this article.