Over the years, we’ve discovered that fashion can flourish in the bleakest of environments. It blossoms and brings life to these places, supporting communities and hard-working craftspeople. Preserving and promoting traditional craftsmanship, diverse manufacturing skills and local expertise from around the world is something we consider to be core. Our goal is to build a transparent and more nurturing fashion industry in which emerging designers can thrive.
But our work would not be done if we didn’t push ourselves and our community to innovate and continually question known modalities. Recognising that we can simplify our systems, including how we learn and why, will facilitate changes that resonate. Let us be the first to let go of complexities that have stuck around for lack of better problem solving.
Now, we are rolling out our manifesto - Authentic Radicalism: Altering Fashion’s System. Through education informed by conscience, we explore fresh ideas for a sustainable and more ethical outlook that will lead to fair working conditions and innovative business models, while helping to facilitate the growth of emerging designers everywhere.
So far, trying to achieve this has seen us bashing our heads against the existing fashion system, which we’ve come to consider the proverbial brick wall.
Too many companies, hungry for fresh consumers, play by neo-liberal market rules, squeezing increased profits and rarely putting people or the greater good first. In so many cases, claims about luxury are exaggerated and those of true heritage fabricated, while boring, ubiquitous products, manufactured in damaging, unsustainable ways is increasingly, the norm. We’ve found that when fashion’s engine is solely about chasing profit, creativity and individuality suffer.
Guided by our global audience and existing relationships with international development agencies, governments and NGOs, we discuss new modes of working, sharing information on innovative systems. We also contemplate the viability of alternative approaches to fashion that we see starting to take shape in pockets around the globe.
The goal is to promote education and challenge current mores. This meeting of minds is about creating a nexus where ideas and information are shared between those who are accomplished and experienced and the world’s future tastemakers and boundary-breakers. Authentic Radicalism lays bare NJAL’s ideal type. In the firm of the future, the essence of the business is social, economic and environmental; a value-creation that emerges from core tenets based on a common sense of purpose, a holistic understanding of value and the importance of our positive impact on the world.
This attitude is informed by our unique insights derived from extensive work with over 21,000 designer brands from 150 countries. Our value system is one we share with our community. Already, the NJAL-selected Black Sheep designers create authentic brand stories that support NJAL’s values including eschewing ‘growth' as the singular measure of success.
“Freedom comes with education,” explains Stefan Siegel, NJAL’s CEO and Founder, of his motivation to question today’s global fashion set-up. “We must create our own system and forge our own path, empowering people to step outside the enshrined structure and institutionalised systems. What NJAL has always been about is giving people the power to run small companies across the globe, while creating an eco-system in which their labels can flourish. Authentic Radicalism will work to bring home this point and encourage a new mode of thinking and working. The Authentic Radicalism manifesto further cements NJAL’s aim to challenge accepted systems and outdated ways of working.”