Merchants of the Sun subscribes to the idea of a pre-destination, a final concentration of our impact as makers, wearers and collaborators.
A huge motivation of fashion is hunger; frenzied, fervid hunger that is only further starved by cheap fixes, perpetual trend cycles and greenwashing. That’s not our game. We believe that fashion, art and expression do not need to come at the expense of our people and planet.
As a key player in our industry, both local and abroad, we can’t underestimate our role in raising the standard of ethical practice in the fashion landscape, and we don’t take that position lightly.
Merchants of the Sun operates as an ethical business, understanding that absolute sustainability has no consequential definition in the balance of art and impact. In the interests of maintaining both expression and climate cognisance, we are developing a network of principles that guide and enforce our pragmatic definition of sustainability across three pillars: social, environmental and economic. Each pillar is then broken down into various categories, including manufacturing, supply chain, retail, people, transparency, education, and our slow business model. More information about this network will be made available in our first impact report, collated and published over the next 12 months.
Our immediate plan requires retracing, retouching, recycling, repurposing and smoothing over any impact we create.
All Merchants of the Sun production operations are contained to one workshop in Bali, Indonesia, headed by Natry and his team of 45 metalsmiths and jewellers. We share this space with three other retailers, although we totally occupy production systems at least 40% of the time. Our buying cycle follows a regular schedule to ensure stability and predictability for our production house.
Creating all Merchants pieces overseas was never a question for Matt, who grew up in Bali and now splits his time between family in Indonesia and our office Australia. Having witnessed the craftsmanship and skill of Balinese jewellers from childhood to now, he continues to work very closely with our production house to create products in an ethical environment that does not contribute to the damage caused by fast fashion in the region. With our largest audience demographic living in the Asia Pacific, we will continue to manufacture in this area.
Our business model opposes speed and centres a sustainable, realistic pace of creation. This notion is known as slow fashion, which rejects production that has no end goal and no meaningful purpose. Each Merchants of the Sun product and collection is extensively deliberated over before being physically manufactured and sold. Haphazard creation and excessive sales have become an expectation of fashion businesses, which only nurtures an unsustainable ideology.
In the process of producing with consideration and slowly creating our collections, we hope to rewire our customers to understand that we are not inherently entitled to consume. For as long as our actions leave a trail of impact, we cannot take more than our planet can afford. You’ll notice that we have a core range of staple pieces, alongside minimal collections and collaborations. This also hinges on educating ourselves and our community as to the coexistence of ethics and aesthetics, and mindfully consuming fashion.
Investing in our supply chain is key to the ethical production and retail of our products, particularly in an industry relying on limited resources. We have recently implemented a circular initiative, diverting Merchants pieces from disposal through our Close the Loop program. While all Merchants pieces are designed for longevity and sustained use over years, we invite all of our wearers to return unused products for us to provide back to our production house to be melted down and reused in future collections. Read more here.
Merchants of the Sun is also currently working with Climate Active, an Australian certification recognising carbon neutral business operations and product standards. So far, this has involved our first environmental audit to assess our output across all supply and retail chains. We hope to receive this formal acknowledgement in coming months, and will keep you updated as to our progress and carbon neutral status. We will also publish all relevant reports in due course.
The comfort of delay is a trap too many of our peers fall into, deferring genuine action in the face of sales and complexity. Rather than putting things off and waiting until later, we are starting now. Here’s what our efforts are contributing to:
- Becoming waste-free by 2024, across all areas of production, supply and retail.
- Establishing a US base to reduce transit emissions from Australia to purchases made in other countries.
- Sourcing alternatives to recycled plastic ring sizers. At this stage, we are working to reduce coinciding waste by exploring AR-powered technology to provide accurate, fast sizing.
- Converting to 100% biodegradable packaging between our production house in Indonesia and warehouse in Australia. Retail packaging currently uses no plastic.
- Producing all chains from 100% recycled silver. These currently contribute to 1-2% of our total silver use, and our thicker chains are already recycled. This is the final step in our journey to using 100% recycled materials in our silver products.
- Publishing a full impact report by July 2023.
- Becoming certified carbon neutral.
- Continuing source reduction to ensure minimalist production, supply and retail.
Our goals are constantly evolving and growing, yet we will continue to be as transparent as possible to ensure our community is fully aware of our actions and impact. The sky is the limit in terms of ethical improvements we can make and we refuse to underestimate our influence as creators and educators in our space.
To have the foresight to change requires continuous learning and an endless reassessment of our values and priorities. As part of our mission, we ask that our industry and community do the same.
Purchase with purpose and we will continue to make few, design well.
Life is a grand and wondrous thing.
Go through it slowly,
But go through it now.