Corporate Conscience | A Personal Statement
Commerce has been fundamental to social advancement through every era and society, but the rampant growth of activity associated with the industrial era has given recent generations growing cause for concern. The modern economy seems to many to function in a zero-sum game: economic growth at home, at human and environmental cost out of sight. Whilst progressing our own brand story, we're anxious to maintain a clear view of our social responsibilities at home and abroad.
This is reflected in our supplier relationships, in our management culture, and in our broader business ethics. In terms of the top layer of our supply chain — for cut, make, and trim — this is made somewhat easier by the fact that most of our garments are presently manufactured within South Korea, by boutique factories operating in employment environments subject to developed world levels of minimum pay. Together with our specialist leather manufacturers in Spain, and our footwear manufacturers in Northampton, England, we have across all of our factory partners regular direct access to production floors, and communicate with factory workers in their first language.
With the recent addition of a GOTS-certified organic cotton supplier in India, we've also contracted the production of a range of knitted cotton basics in India, close to the source of the raw materials, in order to minimise carbon-intensive freight between production phases. We have similarly spent time on the factory floor for this range, contracting with fair trade production partners, on fair terms, and never holding Dutch auctions for production contracts.
In contrast to many similar enterprises, whose founding values sometimes find themselves compromised by structural changes in executive control — often due to funding considerations — Olive has remained wholly owned, funded, and managed, by its original founders: myself and my wife. However, it would be incomplete of me not to share with you that ours has been a journey of discovery not dissimilar to many of our similarly socially conscious customers; starting from a desire to achieve uncompromising ethical standards, we've had to face compromises at almost every turn.
It is, for example, not always possible for us to penetrate sufficiently deep into our own supply chain to fully ascertain the origin of a yarn; many textile suppliers within sane shipping distance of our CMT factories are robustly unwilling to share commercially sensitive information about their own supply chain — particularly with a micro-brand with limited buying power. Our roadmap to improving transparency throughout the supply chain includes strengthening and expanding upon supplier relationships — both a natural consequence of our own development and growth.
In the modern global economic system, consumer, retailer, manufacturer, and farmer are inextricably connected, in a pyramid of ethical responsibilities. Many of our customers are keen to take their responsibility seriously, and expect the same of us. We’d like to reassure those customers that we do share those values and aspirations, and our ability to deliver on them will strengthen rather than diminish as we grow together. — Rohan Moore, Managing Director
Olive is a living wage employer accredited by the Living Wage Foundation.
All products described as fabricated with organic cotton comprise cotton that is GOTS certified.