I am not the most passionate shopper or consumer when it comes to clothing but one company I have always been buying from over the past years has been Howies in the UK.
Howies started out with the vision to be a truly sustainable and environmentally friendly organisation years ago. They joined Timberland in 2006. I like Timberland, so I continued to shop with Howies. In 2011 Timberland where bought by VF. This acquisition made business sense for Timberland and VF but as a Howies customer I must admit I did not like the idea of my brand being one tiny part of a huge world-wide brand conglomerate. This is the link to the post: VF and Timberland, if you are interested in my VF-Timberland view.
Today I was very pleased to read that the Howies owners bought back the business from VF. Howies would have been a tiny part of the overall business and the owners, in my view, rightly decided that being part of VF would not be good for the future of such a great sustainable clothing brand.
This is the news item from the Howies website: On our own two feet
The CSR / Sustainability angle on this development
I believe that this is a great example of how CSR /Sustainability can best thrive while being small, and that belonging to a multi-national corporation does not always help in promoting sustainable business practices. Yes, you could argue that this is a one of example but so far my experience has thought me that sustainable business practices work best if the business can go and evolve at its own pace without much interference from big-business trying to accelerate this process. It certainly helps if you more cash available to do as you please but in the end it all depends on the commitment of the business owners, its employees and key stakeholders to make change happen. This is a lot easier in a small independent business.
I would like to congratulate the new Howies owners for this bold move. I will certainly order more in the future from now on. The reason is very simple: I now know who is behind the business, how they source their products and what they stand for as a business. This is all I want and need to know from a sustainable business these days.