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To Founder Ana Kannan first looks at sustainable fashion brands for you

The coming of age of Generation Z has brought about 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 took “brand ethics” to a deeper meaning, leaning into a more intentional approach to shopping (like buying second-hand and prioritizing minority-owned businesses). They also sought to redefine the definition of “sexy” by requiring more body-hugging lingerie. Now the Zoomers are moving on to their next feat: holding brands accountable to their sustainability claims. Enter Ana Kannan, 23, founder of Toward, a cutting-edge retailer with a conscience.

Although Kannan was raised as a vegetarian and instilled in her by her parents a “low waste ethic”, it was not until two years ago that she saw a providential opportunity to channel these values ​​into a game-changing company. “I saw that there was a renewed focus on environmental and social responsibility as people stayed home and saw the impact of doing less, what getting around less was having on the planet. “, she told TZR.

After earning 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 retail space that favored fully sustainable brands. It was then that she spawned the idea of ​​Toward, a platform that provides consumers with metrics of brands’ sustainability efforts, so customers can make informed decisions about the products they choose. buy. With a name that implies progress, the company is on a mission to disruptively create a more responsible way to buy luxury goods and satisfy consumers’ growing desire to support ethical businesses.

“I wanted to marry the concepts of responsibility and buying the things I loved,” says Kannan, who noted her own distrust of fashion and beauty‘s sustainability claims as a consumer.

To verify the brands for herself, she used to scour their websites for sustainability commitments and draw her own conclusions about the eco-friendliness of certain materials despite the claims and the supply chain. To give an example, she mentions a hypothetical brand that presents itself as sustainable for its use of natural materials, such as cotton. However, traditional cotton production often uses pesticides and excessive amounts of water. Alas, Kannan’s personal verification process was taxing and inefficient. “A lot of brands weren’t really willing to give that information to any shopper,” she shares.

By forming Toward, gathering this information as criteria for a label to be part of the platform, Kannan was able to find a handful of brands that she and other conscious consumers could trust. “We get questions [from shoppers] all the time on the manufacturing processes, on the mixtures of materials, etc. So it’s really great to have concrete answers,” she says. Currently, there are just over 20 emerging and established brands that can be purchased on the site, including Anna October, Leset, Closed and Vivienne Westwood.

The Toward team vets brands carefully, asking potential labels about 100 questions about their products and practices. The framework, which Kannan says he developed over the course of a year, is a way to assure consumers that brands on Toward meet the highest standards of ethical, social and environmental responsibility by precisely measuring where a brand is doing and what what she plans to do. to extend its positive impact.

It outlines a wide range of sustainable business practices, including workers’ rights legislation and manufacturing process details. The section is divided into several areas of intervention: transparency, emissions, materials, chemical waste, workers’ rights, biodiversity and forestry, and ethics (or how the brand can encourage responsible consumption among its consumers). The topic is then scored on a weighted scale, as the Toward team deemed some issues more important than others. For example, they rated transparency higher than ethos because they believe reducing emissions will have the greatest impact right now. If brands score 65 or higher, Kannan feels confident doing business with them.

The verification process takes about a month. Toward asks brands to provide details for each question to which they answer “yes”. For example, if a brand claims to use organic or recycled materials, it must provide a percentage of products made with such materials, as well as certification. “If a product uses EcoVero-certified viscose, we want to see that certification from that governing body,” says Kannan. “Sometimes we even obtain certifications from third parties, such as international associations for the defense of workers’ rights. Sometimes brands ask them to carry out the audits for them.

These procedures are also great ways to find out what makes each brand unique. “One thing I really like [Savannah Morrow The Label] is his use of peace silk,” she explains. “Previously, when making silk items, silkworms were boiled alive and perished in the process. But with peace silk, those silkworms are alive and well. There is also AGOLDE , a popular denim brand that recycles 90% of the water used in the production process and also uses recycled leather in its collections.

Even after Toward introduces a brand into its orbit, the review process is ongoing, in order to hold it accountable. Additionally, the column is continually updated to reflect an accurate and up-to-date understanding of fashion sustainability, says Kannan. In addition to its e-commerce presence, Toward will also open its first physical store on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood later this month. If the LA store works as they hope, Kannan says Toward will expand to other locations on the West Coast and then head east.

You can pick up some of Toward’s favorite TZR parts, ahead. However, be aware that the Toward team has implemented a purchase limit of 12 orders per year to help consumers shop wisely.

At TZR, we only include products that have been independently selected by our editors. We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Hazel J. Edmonds

The author Hazel J. Edmonds