In books and on film, Bond is always out there saving us from a global crisis. But what can we do to help here in the real world?
Before anyone panics, this won’t be a “preachy” post. I’m not going to try and sell you any “workers’ rights” or “protect our environment” philosophies. I won’t give a list of “10 Things You Can Do to Heal the Earth”. Most of us are informed adults here, and we don’t want or need lectures. But I do want to give you some insight into the thought process behind this post.
Why, pray tell, are you going on about “ethical James Bond style”?
Iconic Alternatives can a bit of a juggling act. We want to make sure we share the most screen accurate and reasonably priced options possible for those key pieces of Bond-wear we all want. That’s the main purpose of this site. And we also need to make money to keep the site running. Which means using affiliate links for the various brands and manufacturers we include in our posts (you can read more about our affiliate links policy here).
But like many of you, I also care about the world we inhabit and want to make it a better place. And to be completely honest, I know I sometimes link to alternatives from brands that may operate in a way that hurts other people and the environment. So I need to ask myself the question: How can I make sure Iconic Alternatives emphasizes the “good” and minimizes the harm?
I’m working on a plan that will help Iconic Alternatives find an answer to that question. Below are brief descriptions of the first two steps I’ll be taking.
Step 1: Start including alternatives from “Positive Impact” brands
What the hell does “positive impact” even mean? I talk more about this later in this post. But, at the most basic level, it means the company or brand treats it’s workers fairly, uses materials, manufacturing and distribution processes that minimize waste and environmental impact, and keeps a close watch on its suppliers to make sure they do the same. The company also makes a quality product that won’t wear out after a couple of cleanings or walks around the park. And it’s transparent about how it does all this.
Whenever I can, I’ll now include a “Best Positive Impact Option” in the posts. These will be sourced from companies that have a proven track record of fair, ethical and environmentally responsible business practices. Of course, “fair and ethical” may not mean the same thing to each of us. Nor will every company check all the “fair/ethical/environmentally responsible” boxes. And they won’t always offer the most “price conscious” alternative. But at least we know these brands trying. I think the least I can do is present them as a viable choice.
Okay, that’s nice. But are there really “Positive Impact” alternatives?
Yes. Yes there are. Check out some examples below. They all come from brands that produce great affordable products AND follow practices that help improve the lives of others and/or minimize environmental impact.
Komodo Raphael Turtleneck Cashmere Wool Jumper: on sale for €100.00
Looking for an affordable alternative for the N.Peal sweater Bond wore in the SPECTRE finale? This 100% cashmere option from Komodo could do the trick. Aside from their use of organic materials, low impact manufacturing processes and fair treatment of their employees, Komodo also supports several social good projects, mainly in Asia. You can learn more about Komodo here. Sizes small to XL are in stock. I would suggest sizing down for a more fitted look.
TenTree Oaken Chinos in Taupe: $64.99
Ignore the pin-roll in the product pic. These chinos are actually a solid color and style match for the Brunello Cucinelli Gabardine Chinos from SPECTRE. Made from 97% organic cotton and 3% spandex, the one thing that may turn people off is that weird pocket on the back of the right leg. But it might be worth trying to get past that when you consider the great work TenTree does. They keep it simple: for every product you purchase, they plant 10 trees. And so far they’ve planted close to 10 million. Read more about the positive impact they’ve had here.
Trenery Classic End on End Linen Shirt in Faint Blue: $129.00 AUS (approximately $97.00 U.S.)
How about an alternative for the Orlebar Brown linen shirt Bond wore on the train in Morocco? Trenery’s is 100% French linen and they have sizes x-small to XXXL in stock. On the surface, Trenery looks like just another boutique fashion brand. And then, buried in their “About Us” section, you find their page about Sustainability. Ethical trade, sustainable sourcing of materials, water and energy efficiency, waste reduction, and contributing to social good projects are all key parts of Trenery’s corporate make-up. They just don’t beat you over the head with it.
Tom Cridland Classic Navy Chinos: £89.00
Hey, they were good enough for 007 himself, Daniel Craig! Tom Cridland stays focused on the quality, longevity and details of his products. As a result, his goal of a “30 year” lifespan for his clothing has received more than a little attention from the international media. Like Trenery, he doesn’t really flaunt his efforts to make a difference. Instead, he builds his commitment to positive social impact and sustainable manufacturing into each product. And then lets the clothes speak for themselves. His Journal and “About” page provide more insights into Cridland’s philosophy and projects. The Classic Navy Chinos are currently available by pre-order, with delivery scheduled for October 2016.
People Tree Dalton Polo in Navy: on sale for $38.50
Well, if the name alone doesn’t get you buying …. Based only on the design, the Dalton Polo is a nice alternative for the Sunspel Riviera polo. This one is made with 100% organic, certified Fairtrade cotton by a social enterprise in India. And that production strategy is pretty typical for all of People Tree’s products. They were pioneers in the Fair Trade Manufacture certification process and were the first organization to receive Global Organic Textile Standard certification for their supply chain based in developing nations. Learn more about People Tree here.
Those are just a few options I’ve found that meet the criteria of “screen accuate”, “affordable” and “ethical”. If you know of more, please share away in the comments!
Step 2: Our “Positive Impact” Page
Very soon, you’ll see a new item in the site’s top menu: Positive Impact. Click on that and you’ll go to a page dedicated to this topic.
Now, if corporate ethics and values still isn’t a subject that interests you, then no problem. Just ignore that page. I want Iconic Alternatives to continue to be an entertaining place where we can find and share cool stuff. And I have no intention of forcing any of my ideas down your throat and killing your fun.
My hope is the Positive Impact page will be a space for dialog. I’m not going to pretend that “ethics and values” is a topic without complexity or grey areas. There’s the question of what “ethical” means in certain contexts. Take John Smedley for example. They manufacture their clothing in the UK from high quality materials they source themselves. So we can be pretty sure their employees are treated fairly and their products will have a long lifespan. Isn’t that “fair and ethical” behavior? Shouldn’t they be considered a “Positive Impact” company? How should we approach this?
Then there’s the concept of “value vs. price” and it’s impact on the environment. Obviously, for many of us, a major obstacle to owning the original clothing Bond wears is the higher initial price. We just can’t afford £145.00 Orlebar Brown swim shorts or a pair of $700.00 Crockett & Jones boots right now. But we also know that, very often, the more expensive option will last longer than the cheaper one. Investing in higher quality (with its higher price) can ultimately reduce waste and offer us more value on a “cost per wear” basis. So how should Iconic Alternatives balance the immediate affordability of a $30.00 sweater, which may blow apart after ten wears, with the value of a $350.00 N.Peal, which can last for years with proper care?
And of course, there’s the issue of what to do about budget options from brands we know don’t always behave in an “fair and ethical” manner. Do we just stop including alternatives from companies that consistently engage in unethical business practices? Do we use some kind of “Best Practices” rating system for each alternative so you have at least some idea of where it’s coming from and how it was made, leaving the final decision up to you?
So, while the “Positive Impact” page will share information and outline some things I’m working on for the site, what I’m really asking for is your input. Your help to find some answers to these questions. I will leave the comments section on the page open and I will always listen to the suggestions, ideas and criticisms you want to share.
These are just first steps. And they are admittedly pretty small steps. But I truly believe it’s important Iconic Alternatives moves forward conscientiously, thoughtfully and gets this right. Thank you all again for your support!