Words by Joelle Firzli and Allyna Wilson
From the beginning, TRIBUTE has made sustainability and conscious-buying the core of our mission and business model. We created a space that embodies our values of diversity and inclusivity. We invite you to ask questions, to learn about emerging brands, about the garment workers, about recycling and upcycling, and exchange knowledge about different textiles. As a minority owned company, we believe that it’s our responsibility to encourage you to learn about and adopt sustainable practices. One major way we do this is by curating only responsible and ethical fashion brands, so whenever you shop at TRIBUTE, you never need to ask “is this ethical?”. Working with selected brands and designers keeps us true to our mission and values while exciting you with beautiful designs that not only fulfills their closets, but also fulfills their own values.
Here at TRIBUTE, we like to break the rules. We don’t follow any particular fashion calendar, and we work exclusively with brands that believe fashion can be a driver of positive change and a catalyst for cultural transformation. Upholding an honest approach to retail is at the core of what we do. It goes without saying that each brand we carry is part of our extended TRIBUTE family. We love them for who they are, what they do and what they represent. Keep reading for a peek into our process of choosing brands and designers!
How We Choose Our Brands
The brands we showcase at TRIBUTE have shown that it’s possible to sell cool pieces with lower environmental impact than their fast-fashion counterparts. They’ve demonstrated innovative products, manufactured with attention to details, craftsmanship and beauty.
We start our selection process by doing research on the brand, and reviewing our very elaborate excel sheet with our criteria. This assures us that the brands style and mission are aligned with that of TRIBUTE’s. Then, we contact the brand, and even visit some of them in their studios and workshops (pre-COVID of course). This enables us to discover the pieces first-hand while also meeting the design team and garment workers. We like to develop a close relationship with all our designers, which we call “collaborators''. We feel lucky, as most of them also operate outside of the traditional retail market system. No seasons, no trends, no do’s and don’ts, no in and out.
Questions for the Brands
It’s very important for us to allow transparency and accountability between the brands we choose, our company, and you, our community. To uphold this trust, we like to ask the brands a series of questions. The answers to these questions are then published on our website and shared with you all. We plan to continue to be thorough and transparent as we grow. In the future, it is our hope to find a better traceability system to be able to deliver more value, to our community, our collaborators and to our business.
Here are examples of the questions we ask:
- How did you start your company?
- How many employees work in your company?
- What kind of material do you use?
- Who is your supplier and where are they located?
- Where do you manufacture your products?
- What is the name of the factory?
- Can you introduce the artisans or organization you partner with?
- How are you socially and environmentally responsible in your practice?
- Are you certified? If yes, please list your certifications. <
TRIBUTE is also mindful of the amount of products we keep in stock. To avoid excess, our buying is very strategic, we pay attention to the demand in our community. And whenever we can, and if possible, we send back the unsold products to the designers.
Shopping Vintage and Pre-loved
Not only does TRIBUTE feature new brands and designs, but we also offer a wide selection of pre-loved and vintage clothing, mainly from the 1950s until the 1990s.
Did you know that there is a triple layer of sustainability in purchasing a vintage piece? First, fewer new clothes are sold and hence produced, then it keeps clothing out of the landfill and finally it keeps clothing from being shipped around the world to secondhand markets, that do not need it.
Vintage is also history, art and the stories of those who have come before us. Owning and wearing vintage and pre-loved clothing is a way of keeping those people and those histories alive. After all, fashion is social history!
Our vintage collection is sourced throughout the country and during our travels, while our pre-loved collection comes mostly from our community. We named that particular aspect of our business “The Closet”. We operate it as a consignment and give back 50% of the sale to the Closet owner.
We want to reaffirm our dedication to bringing you the best independent and responsible, local and international fashion brands to our customers while also advocating for Mother Earth. So stay tuned and follow us @thisistribute.
The beauty of being a part of this growing section of the fashion industry is that there is still so much more to discover and create.