Here at Flanders DC, we make no secret about the fact that we truly believe that sustainability is the future. So if you want to be ready for tomorrow (and tomorrow’s consumer), you had better start thinking today how you can implement a more sustainable way of working in your company. And that’s something e5 mode, caroline biss and Café Costume have all taken on board in full.

Earlier this year, the three companies signed up to our brand-new “Corporate Social Responsibility” course. They succeeded in convincing us of their desire to form part of this adventure in which we developed a more sustainable and customised working method with them.

Café Costume

Café Costume

CSR: what is it exactly?

CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility. Though the term is a little unwieldy, it’s something you hear more and more about these days.

And although books upon books have been written about CSR, it boils down to three key basic concepts:

  • Profit - so economic progress
  • People - where the effects on humans and society inside and outside the company are a key element
  • Planet - being the effects on the environment and so on our planet

These three dimensions influence each other, complement each other and sometimes come into conflict with each other. As such, the search for the right balance is one of the great challenges of CSR.

e5 mode

e5 mode

It all sounds great in theory, but how does it work in practice?

We asked ourselves that question too! That’s why we set off on a quest for the answer together with three Flemish fashion companies. We sat down with Café Costume, e5 mode and caroline biss to see how sustainably they work at the moment and what opportunities are available to them.

Based on the characteristics of each company, and the challenges and opportunities that we saw, we worked out a tailor-made course. Unique, customised, just for them. Together with a few experts, we are now putting our money where our mouth is and will be working hard in the coming months to integrate the CSR approach into these three companies.

Of course, we don’t want to let the cat completely out of the bag yet (some secrets must be kept, after all), but we are already revealing a first glimpse through the words of the following valiant fellows.

“Sustainability is actually embedded in the DNA of our company in various ways, even though we don’t openly advertise it. For example, look at the made-to-measure system with which we work. It ensures on the one hand that we have little to no stock or overproduction, and on the other that our customers become very attached to the tailor-made suit they buy from us. We are now ready for the next step in which we can take things to the next level and so are taking a critical look at our whole business model.” Bruno Van Gils, CEO of Café Costume

“We are aware that the future can only be safeguarded if we take responsibility for people and the environment. That’s why a number of major steps have already been planned within our company. With this project we want to go a whole lot further and are aiming to become an example for the clothing, fashion and retail industry. We really are diving head-first into an exciting experiment which we hope is only the beginning of an adjustment of our range of clothing on a large scale...” Hans Van Rijckeghem, CEO of e5 mode

“For us, the challenge lies above all in making our company more sustainable without compromising in terms of creativity, flexibility and commercial drive. With this project, we want to explore those boundaries and move from a way of doing things based on healthy common sense (which is certainly already the case in terms of sustainability today) to a real policy. Step by step, we want to raise standards and now also work in a more formalised way throughout the whole chain.” Bart Saelen, CEO of caroline biss

caroline biss

caroline biss

Good for them, but what about me?

The fact that the three companies are so different (size, target group, product and working method) is no coincidence because of course it will come as no surprise that we want to learn lessons from this experience that apply to the industry as a whole. Behind the scenes, Flanders DC is working hard to learn as many lessons as possible from these experiences so that we can share them with the wider fashion industry. Would you like to know more?

Come to Fashion Talks! There’s a great deal of sustainability on the programme. Follow the Close The Loopplatform via Facebook or sign up for our brand-new newsletter published every two months. You can then be sure that you’ll be among the first to know about the twists and turns in this adventure!

MVO Vaanderen

with support of the Flemish Government – MVO Vlaanderen