Athens: Policy Entrepreneurship, Ancient meets Modern

Athens: Policy Entrepreneurship, Ancient meets Modern

It’s been a minute! Between the SBP accelerator and multiple trade shows it feels like we have been “on tour” for a while now. We have had a fantastic time exploring new places and meeting new people. The journey has been filled with excitement and challenges, but it has also been a great opportunity to learn about sustainable fashion, and showcase our products to a wider audience. Each place we visited had its own unique aspects and although we are ready to be back in the studio for a while, we have definitely enjoyed the ride.

Let's fill you in: Athens September 2022

In a land filled with history and mythology, there was a city that stood proud and tall. This city was known as Athens. Once a center of power for the Roman Empire, their rule can still be seen in the monumental structures that still stand today. A hub of culture, art, and intellectual thought. But Athens is more than just its ancient ruins, it is a vibrant and bustling metropolis with a lively spirit. We loved it here! The food, the view of the Acropolis from our balcony, the ancientness of it all. Although it is an ancient city, it is a modern one and sustainable fashion is an increasingly important issue in Greece, as consumers and industry professionals alike become more aware of the environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry and the value that their traditional crafts can play within the market.

At our final bootcamp we spent two intense days learning about and discussing important upcoming focuses within Europe. Big topic points included how to avoid green washing, the EU strategy for sustainable textiles, plus the increasing importance of traceability and transparency for brands in fashion.

Let's start with the latter: Traceability and Impact.
Traceability and transparency in fashion refer to the ability to trace the journey of a garment or textile product from raw materials to finished product and the availability of information about the process. Together, they help to promote greater accountability and sustainability and help consumers make informed choices about the products they buy. The textile sector is characterized by overproduction, creating high quantities of waste by globalized processes which result in poor communication and a lack of transparency.

Where do your clothes come from? And who is making them? These are some of the big questions at the forefront of sustainable fashion. At TIZZ & TONIC it is no secret and we are excited and happy to share our production with anyone who comes by our studio. Part of our commitment to transparency is having an innovative model when it comes to interacting with our community. We put a lot of focus into the online experience for the customers but sometimes we crave in person engagement so we host events, parties and photoshoots. We are passionate about building a competitive business that maintains EU production. However, it is also no secret that we eventually plan on outsourcing our production, but until we find the makers that match to our standards we will continue to be a ‘Made in Germany' brand. We know the whole journey from when the raw materials (fabric) arrives in our studio until the undies are made and ready to ship out to the customer.
Back to the bigger picture.
How do you make something that can change the world around us? Change the industry. Minimally processing products to have the smallest amount of environmental impact using sustainable, responsible resources. This is a big part of the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles. It is setting out the vision and concrete actions to ensure that by 2030 textile products placed on the EU market are long-lived and recyclable, made as much as possible from recycled fibers, free of hazardous substances and produced in respect of social rights and the environment. How do you make something that consumers care about and benefit them? Well basically, consumers will benefit from longer lasting high quality textiles, fast fashion should be out of fashion, and economically profitable re-use and repair services should be widely available.

Our world is changing rapidly and we are going to change with it which is very exciting!

It seems that all brands big and small are doing something to be more environmentally friendly but how can we trust them and avoid Greenwashing?

This is a whole huge topic in itself but in a nutshell; Greenwashing is a marketing tactic used by some companies to make their products appear more environmentally friendly than they actually are. In order to avoid being misled by greenwashing, look for specific and measurable claims about a product's environmental benefits, rather than vague or general statements. These would include details such as specific processes, units of measurement, third party certifications. Be sure to look for information from reputable sources to verify a product's environmental claims, and don’t be shy to reach out to brands and ask them. They should be confident in their information and happy to share sustainable goals and details with their customers. By being vigilant and doing your due diligence, you can make more informed and sustainable purchasing decisions.

Now back to Athens. There are a growing number of Greek fashion designers and brands that are focusing on sustainable and ethical production practices, using sustainable materials and reducing their carbon footprint. A big upcoming focus is to source traditional materials and production practices from Greece. There are many specific crafts, and hand-working methodologies that exist only in the memory of those working within the field and unfortunately this demographic is aging. If there is not a focus on these unique arts they will be lost. We were able to sit in on a panel of Greek politicians outlining plans for the next few years to make sure this piece of history does not get lost, and they demonstrated the economic, environmental and cultural benefits of these upcoming projects for a country like Greece. The diversity of Europe is always such a wonder and never ceases to surprise us.

Although we didn't have much time here some of our highlights included:

  • Meeting with Greek Artisans and designers.
  • Shopping super unique vintage shops in our neighborhood. If you are in Athens be sure to check out Treasure House - Vintage & Upcycled Clothing store
  • One morning we woke up, before the sun was out, to walk the small and winding streets to see the Acropolis and look over the city at sunrise. It was a beautiful way to start the day and to end our trip here in Greece!

We knew we had a lot of work ahead of us in our own studio and preparing for a trade show tour that we would participate in January 2023.

Next stop: Getting ready for back to back trade fairs to showcase our new pieces and introduce ourselves within the German, European, and North American fashion networks.

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