The sustainability stakes are high: calling all men, we need you!
by Hanna Pumfrey
As a strong, ambitious and irritatingly independent (so my boyfriend tells me) woman, I never thought there would be a day where I told a man I needed him. Let alone told all men folk I needed them. A tad needy girls?
Hang on in there; there is merit and cause behind my words. Rumour has it that women are naturally the more environmentally conscious sex. As farmers, mothers, and ‘keepers of the earth,’ we are, apparently, the ones who selflessly care for the planet and are the ones who will bear the disproportionate burden as it is degraded.
Should I get out my violin? Is this really true?
The differences, however subtle, in the ways men and women tend to think and communicate may well have important implications for sustainability. A study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research showed that women’s higher levels of empathy, altruism, and personal responsibility make us more interested in environmentalism to protect not only ourselves and our families, but also others. Empathy is considered key to promoting sustainability. When a person is in the habit of considering the well-being of others when making their own decisions, they are more likely to anticipate the longer term and broader implications of each choice or opportunity. Thus, choosing the more sustainable option.
So, ladies, it’s time to call upon our men and engage them in the benefits of sustainable living. Sustainability is not a movement that can be addressed by us alone. Success will be found through the power of the collective ambition of both men and women.
One woman who is empowering men to lead the charge is Jade Rozenbroek, founder of Rozenbroek menswear, an exciting new brand that is bringing sustainably produced men’s briefs and t-shirts that any man would be happy to parade in the bedroom (like you need an excuse!) to the UK market.
So, men, hold on to your eco-pants, we spoke to Jade to find out more about the brand and her thoughts on the men vs. women, who cares more about the earth debate.
Tell me a bit about you
I am a multi-product menswear designer with a background working in the luxury sector, including Marc Jacobs, Burberry and Versace. My passion for men’s clothing has led me to work in New York, Milan and now London. As a country girl- from the hills of Yorkshire, I have always been very in touch with nature and animals which is why I became a vegan around 5 years ago. As a vegan I realised that my true passion was the environment and I became obsessed with trying to become as sustainable as possible and learn how to get what I needed from nature whilst stopping using non earth friendly products. The more you try, the more you learn and I am still on a journey to become the best possible person I can be. From this I have found that if I can make the journey easier for others, I would like to and have started my menswear line so that men can have clothing options that are sustainable, transparent and not exploitative.
What was the inspiration for Rozenbroek?
At university, I became a menswear designer as I found it more challenging than designing clothing for women. Likewise, I started Rozenbroek because I enjoy the challenge of making clothing that protects the resources and people who are making the product, as well as the challenge of extending the lifecycle through good design, education on caring for the garment and repair. However, I also think it is interesting that we can create products that can degrade and give back to the earth at the end of a lifecycle rather than sit in landfills and release toxic fumes. Something I am playing with.
Each season has a slight shift in inspiration, S/S 2018 was focused on River Phoenix, his attitude or ‘aura' and his infamous Peta T-shirt. This season will continue to have River at the heart but will infuse the warmth that is envisaged by big jackets and cosy natural colours. The basics line has been introduced as a constant so that people can come and get comfortable organic underwear, that is made with care, to order in London, England. By making to order we are dramatically reducing waste whilst ensuring the products are to the highest standard, the fabrics are transparently produced and nobody is exploited in the making process.
Research suggests that women are much more likely strive for sustainable lifestyle practices and to shop ethically than men, do you agree? Why do you think this is?
Personally, I believe that men strive equally, however do not have the choice that women have. More brands are slowly popping up, but sustainable menswear often must be ordered from abroad or is very limited in its selection. Us women are lucky; we can be diverse with our work clothing and can change beauty products whereas men know what they like and tend to stick to those products. If there are no alternative solutions, it becomes difficult for them to change and so perhaps they choose not to switch.
Rozenbroek was born out of this lack of choice; it was becoming increasingly frustrating for me to buy gifts that I did not believe met the criteria’s important within design, so I decided to make them rather than buying non-sustainable alternatives. Homemade Christmas was a hit for a while but I think the family are more excited to be able to select their products from the website this year!
What do you think are the best ways to engage men in the sustainability debate?
Make it easy for them! Men are not as likely to be looking around for the best products as women are. If we can all group together and find an easy way to place it under their noses than they are more likely to become involved. By having the right products in the right place then they will be excited. Documentaries are becoming a great way to communicate with men and make the change happen, however they then go to the shops and lose faith as the regular life routine does not include these changes. Hopefully rather than be competitors, brands can start to work side by side to not overproduce whilst still ensuring the choice is there!
The question Flor + Cesta likes to ask everyone we interview... If you could say anything to the CEO's of all fast fashion retailers what would it be?
Slow down! Less choice is not a bad thing.
These retailers have huge opportunity to change how clothing can be made- buying such huge quantities of cloth could be a positive, as well as mean that organic clothing can be affordable. The dyes could be natural and the garment workers could all receive fair pay and safe working conditions. If change happened at this level, the budget for research into sustainable developments would mean that fashion could change much faster, for the better.
So happy to speak to a fellow Yorshire-woman who is making waves in sustainable menswear. Thanks so much for talking to Flor + Cesta Jade. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for the brand.