Enviromental and social responsibilities at Kitchener
"Diversity instead of monoculture! We support people who dare to be different, question the norm & are true to themselves.”
Curiosity and independence are core values at Kitchener.
Kitchener intends to be in business for a long time and operate in a way that is consistent with our core values.
At Kitchener we recognize that our business has an impact on social and environmental issues, in particular people’s working conditions, as well as the environment, both locally and globally. We also strongly believe that we can do good business while being a good business. This is a pre-condition to our future growth, a growth that will be achieved together with suppliers that share the same vision and ambition.
As Caterina Portas so beautifully said" We believe that being a consumer and a citizen being can be highly compatible. What we choose to buy and whom we give our money, makes this world go round.That means that on a smaller scale, all of us have the power to make the world spin the way we want it to spin, every time we go to the supermarket for instance."
This is equally true for individuals and for companies. For Kitchener as a company, this means we carefully select with whom we work, who we support and with whom we don't work. We see our suppliers as partners with whom we want to have a fair and long lasting relationship.
The fashion business is only slowly starting to become more sustainable and fair. There are a lot of large and powerful international companies dominating the market. Some are concious and working towards a sustainable and fair production, other pretend to, and some just don't care. Over recent years a lot of certificates and labels have been created to shine light into the darkness of fashion production. This is a good thing, but it's only the beginning. As we can read every other day in the news there is a lot of corruption and control seems sometimes nearly impossible.
We welcome the introduction of these labels, but to us there are many different factors to consider. We are happy that change is happening, but at Kitchener sustainability is not a fashion trend.
There are so many factors to consider. A product with a label might not be half as sustainable as one without one . The perfect product does not exist. What is more sustainable, the plastic wrapped organic strawberries from Spain we can buy in our supermarkets from February on, or the non organic ones we can buy at the market in May?This might be an extreme example, but it shows the many factors we have to consider as consumers. To some people the most important thing is that the food they buy is organic. Others want to use as little plastic as possible. Is a local product not always more sustainable than than one that traveled all the way from Spain? And we all read about the horrible working conditions for the mainly African immigrants labouring on huge organic farms supplying our supermarkets with organic goods.
You and me don't have the same values. At the end of the day it's up to every single one of us to make up our minds and take a stand for what we think is important.
There are certainly brands and products you will never find at Kitchener because they don’t corespond with our values. But we see our customers as independent people who don't want to be patronized and who want to decide for themselves according to theirs own values.In order for you, our customers, to make these decisions, it is our challenge to provide you with as much information as possible about the the product or brand you are considering buying.
At Kitchener we want to inspire you and introduce you to the brands and products that inspire us. We also want you to know the history of the products and meet to the people who make them. So you can decide for yourself if they fit with your personal values.
But there is more to it. In the last decade massproduction has taken over trade. You can buy the same merchandise from many different brands or producers at different prices.
We believe that knowing where your product comes from and who makes it, changes the way we look at it. It rightfully becomes more unique and emotional and thus can give you so much more enjoyment. Something we value we don't just throw away when the new season starts or the next trend comes along. Buying less and choosing things that will last and will give you pleasure for a long time is the most sustainable consumption.
To quote Catarina Portas again " A new trade that fights for causes fearlessly, due to its freedom and the belief that the most exciting obligation is the duty to make the world a better place - starting with ourselves."
Our guiding principals when working with these issues are:
- We like to work with small producers whom we can meet in person and build a trusting relation ship.
- To us a European product is always more sustainable than one that traveled around the world. With the extra benefit that we know it has been produced under European work laws.
- We don't stock the latest fashion when we think it's not going to last longer than the season. We woud like our customers to be happy wearing a product for many seasons.
- For our own brand KitchenerItems we work with people we trust. We try to be as sustainable as possible in meeting the industrial standards for a sustainable production.
- We produce goods that can last longer then one season and be worn to the office or to a party.
- We believe in supporting the local suppliers instead of working with the big international players, because they make sure that there is diversity in the market. Curiosity has been at the heart of Kitchener ever since it was founded. The world is a wonderful place and we want to discover it. Only when we all stand together and support each other, can we make this world a better place. By stocking products from local producers around the world, we support the local people and their local economies. We try to find a good balance between encouraging and promoting our local community in Switzerland and supporting producers abroad.
As a company we work towards sustainability on a daily basis.
- Reducing our footprint. Fashion is a travel intense business. Ever since Kitchener was founded 50 years ago we travel nationally with public transport.
- Sustainable packaging . Back in the eighties we created the now legendary Kitchenerbag - a reusable shopping bag made out of nylon instead of plastic, that you can wear as a backpack . A bag that can be washed and used over and over again and for many different purposes. In the nineties we introduced the Shopperbag and the beachbag, reusable totes made of recycled pet and recycled pp. Like the Kitchenerbag the Shopper has become a classic. People use them all the time for different purposes. We believe in good design. We think that people don't want to walk around like billboard. Thus we put a lot off effort into creating our packaging material to make sure people like to use it over and over again.
- We try to recycle as much as possible and use products that can be refilled. Recycled products and products that help us recude our waste do get a platform in our stores.
- Over the course of the next years we want to eliminate the use of as much plastic as possible.
- We work towards to goal of climat neutral transport and import.
- Men and woman are equal. For us this means that they have the same rights and obligations. For the same job men and woman earn the same wage.
- We aim to promote diversity whenever possible. From the people we work with to the people who work at Kitchener.
- At Kitchener have a no tolerance policy against discrimination towards our employees based on race, religion, beliefs, gender, marital or maternal status, age, political affiliation, national origin, disability, sexual orientation or any other basis.
- We don't place our customers into boxes based on their age, sex, or any other bias – we focus on allowing people to reveal their personality.
- People are beautiful the way they are no matter what size they wear. We buy size extra small to extra large whenever the brand gives us the opportunity. Which still is not self-evident for half the brands we work with.
- We believe that in order for people to be happy, they have to realize their full potential.
- The Kitchener team is diverse.
- We support part time work so that our employees have the opportunity to pursue private projects as well as work at Kitchener.
- As a company we try to give parents as much flexibility as possible in order for them to manage the difficult task of becoming the parents they want to be and not having to give up the job they love.
- When our employees have projects, plans or want to go traveling for a longer time we try to support them with flexible planning.
- On a daily basis we try to be as local as possible. Whenever it is economically possible we give preference to Swiss producers: For us this means printing in Switzerland or one of our neighbouring countries. Working with Swiss designers, hosting our website in Switzerland.
- We are very aware and uneasy with the way big Internet companies like Google and Facebook are working with our data. At Kitchener we host our own data and surf on alternative search engines.
Put into practice this means :