A flurry of eco-conscious startups have emerged due to increased demand for slow fashion. Each brings with them a unique sense and infinite ideas on how to adapt buyers experiences in the new sustainable fashion landscape.

SlowCo was founded in February this year and is one of many innovative startups that are trying to change the world. The e-commerce platform focuses on creating an informative marketplace and curates a wide range of quality brands to meet the needs of the modern-day shopper. Faris Hamadeh, CEO, stated in an interview that “Slower is better, fewer is more” “That really sums up our philosophy, which we strive to bring to SlowCo through multiple means.”

woman wearing brown and black coat

We spoke with Hamadeh to learn more about SlowCo, its importance, and how it plans on continuing the eco-conversation.

How did SlowCo founders get involved in sustainability and fashion?

Our backgrounds are very diverse. Ronae, my colleague, is responsible for brand partner relations. She used to work at Mary Kantranzou’s fashion houses. Her DNA has been in fashion. Her experience in fashion and relationship management is a great asset. Felipe, our creative director, is a photographer by profession. He has previously worked at a variety of British publications like Harper’s Bazaar and i-D. Jack’s previous experience was as a legal counsel for growth startups. His vast experience in legal aspects was a valuable asset to the team.

Fashion has been a passion of mine since childhood, even though I have never worked in the industry. When I was 16, I started an online store selling iPod accessories. It was my first time with e-commerce, and it was a great experience. After eight years of working in finance, I realized it wasn’t the right career for me. I decided to start my own company and consider non-negotiable sustainable and ethical parameters. SlowCo was born. The rest of the team joined SlowCo, bringing their diverse experience and capabilities.

The industry was still in uncertainty at the time you founded the web shop. Why did you decide to create the web store during this period?

It was more a result of realising there wasn’t anywhere we wanted to shop. Sustainability wasn’t the ubiquitous word it was a year and half ago when the idea was first brought up. It’s amazing how far this conversation has advanced.

We tried to make sure that there was a place that we could shop in that had clothes we like and that met our sustainability criteria. This is an important aspect for everyone. The third element is inclusivity. This means that everyone can feel welcome, regardless of their identity. These three elements are interconnected and we aim to find the right mix of brands to represent them.

Is covid-19 an influence on the launch of this brand because it was launched at the same time?

man in blue t-shirt wearing white mask and black backpack

Minor impact. Shoots were delayed and other things had to be rescheduled. Felipe was especially affected when he was in Spain where they had one the most severe lockdowns. The biggest problem for us is Brexit and the regulatory changes that have caused a lot of expense. It has caused a lot of delays and made the environment more complex. We made great progress and were prepared. Even with the July 1 changes, a new regulatory framework was created. This has made it difficult to recognize how VAT is managed and changed the way things are managed.

We have seen an increase in sustainable startups entering the market over the years. Many fast-fashion retailers are also incorporating sustainability into their strategies. SlowCo aims to be different from other startups?

It’s encouraging to see the industry evolve. In the past year, there has been a lot of progress. Our goal is to always be the most sustainable and informative platform for fashion on the planet. We want people to understand the impacts of their purchases. We strive to be always one step ahead of the curve, and have a continually evolving requirement for the products we offer.

No doubt, we will have more stringent guidelines and continue to evaluate our minimum requirements every twelve months. It’s all about adapting to the changing industry.

We are also developing a very exciting initiative to empower consumers in their decisions. It’s really exciting, but I don’t know enough to say much right now because we are still developing it. It will be available in the next six to nine month and is part our contribution to the positive discussion about the environmental and social impact of consumption.

This new initiative sounds intriguing…

It’s exciting! It is still in development. Once we have something written, we will be happy to discuss it.

Your thorough screening of each item was one of the most impressive features on your platform. Can you tell us why and how you chose to do this?

Yes, screening is done. It starts at the brand level, with initial due diligence on each brand and building strong relationships with them. This helps us understand their work and how it works in terms of sustainable production, worker relations, and trust. Building a community with brands we work with is the foundation of everything.

assorted-color threads spool lot

The next step is to look at the technical and logistical aspects. We use conversation, questionnaires, and product checks to check every item. These items are then vetted according to ten factors. These include upcycled, organic and vegan products, as well as low-impact, certified, small-scale, certified and made in Europe.

Third party certification is the most important. I believe that more than 80 percent of products we have currently have it. These certificates can be independently verified, such as Blue Sign, Ecotex, Fair Trade, Blue Sign or Organic Content Standard.

Are you ever required to turn away brands when they approach you?

We respond to every brand that reaches us. Sometimes we have found that we are not compatible due to a variety of reasons. They might not meet our sustainability criteria, or be compatible with our aesthetic view. We must ensure that our selections of brands are cohesive as part of our mission to link sustainable consumption and aesthetics. This is something we take very seriously.

What is SlowCo doing to help shoppers make informed purchases?

We begin by removing some of the burden from shoppers through the initial screening process. We give them the freedom and tools to choose what they want, giving them a way to filter out products that don’t fit their needs. We can accommodate someone who wants only natural fibres.

This initiative will inform shoppers about sustainable shopping and help them to shop smarter.

Is there any other area SlowCo is trying to be more sustainable in?

person holding cardboard box on table

We are always striving to improve. We offer carbon-neutral shipping already. Focusing on European businesses is another way to reduce our carbon footprint. We are constantly looking for ways to inform the public about the project, as there is so much misinformation. We are concerned about the poor quality of industry data and we do our best to address it.

A year and half ago, people were just getting used to sustainable shopping. But now it is a common reality. We are helping to address this problem by sharing our knowledge and educating others about sustainable shopping.

How important is gender inclusion in brand decisions?

This is one of the three pillars that SlowCo has built. This is the core of what we do. We want to change the way we shop for menswear and womenswear and make it more relevant to the modern society.

This is why our website lets people shop according to their expressions, rather than limiting them to a specific gender. It’s about letting people shop according their expression without them having to identify their gender.

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