business Editor's pick sustainability

Clare Press on why brand activism matters today

“I think that it is absolutely indisputable that customers are asking for brands to have vision and to have purpose and to stand for more than just making something pretty,” says Clare Press, sustainability editor-at-large at Vogue Australia and author of the book Rise & Resist, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent.

This new wave of brand activism is backed by the fact there is plenty of evidence younger consumers are the most socially-engaged generation we’ve seen, she explains. The fight for social and political justice that is happening around the world, is feeding into a demanding for more from the goods and services they consume. “They’re looking for brands to represent something that strikes a chord with them, and that is meaningful to them,” she adds.

We haven’t seen consumer restlessness in as big a way as we’re seeing right now since the 1960s, she explains. But addressing that as brands, also comes with balance.

Gucci pre-fall 2018 campaign, #GucciDansLesRues

Numerous businesses have stepped into this space – Gucci for instance made headlines when it donated money to March For Our Lives, and the gun control movement in the US, in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Meanwhile Patagonia announced it is donating all of the $10m it saved from a tax cut in the Trump presidency towards environmental protection groups. But that only works when it’s authentic, Press notes.

“Customers can see when they’re being green washed; when things completely lack integrity, and it can backfire. Let’s not pretend that brands aren’t in the business of making money. Of course, they are. However, if we can use that in order to also try to do some good, well, doing good business, I think that’s a valid thing.”

Press’ role at Vogue Australia is the first dedicated to sustainability in any of the Vogue titles worldwide. It comes at a time when the industry is increasingly focused on making sustainability and purpose a long-term business imperative, which ties to her mission to continue driving momentum in this space. It’s on that basis she believes everything from climate change to gender equality, modern slavery and more are intertwined.

In conversation with TheCurrent’s Rachel Arthur, she explores exactly what that means, talks about the importance of every individual voice in the supply chain, and reveals just what feminism really has to do with fashion.

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Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.