Keying into the social justice attributes of Millennials and Baby Boomers, Project Just recently launched its Web site and database of fashion and retail companies where consumers can peruse the social and environmental responsibility practices of a brand.
The goal is to help consumers make better informed buying decisions.
There are about 50 brands on the site, with more to come, and so far include Abercrombie & Fitch, Chanel, Diesel, Express, Gap, J. Crew, Warby Parker and Zara, among others. The database includes brand profiles, and information about the company’s labor practices, community engagement, environmental practices and management, among other topics. The site is designed for consumers to learn some of the narratives behind brands — to include the positive and the not-so-positive — while also serving as a forum for discussion.
“Just empowers shoppers with data and storytelling to incite change within the fashion industry,” the company said in its launch statement. “Each brand is researched and categorized based on social, environmental and aesthetic factors to bring manufacturing practices to light and enable informed purchasing decisions. As a forum, users — shoppers, industry activists, brands, retailers — are encouraged to join the discussion, even help to uncover missing pieces of brands’ backstories.”
Aside from the corporate social responsibility practices of a brand, profile pages also include “pros and cons” of the brand and links to relevant articles. It also includes information about sustainability certifications, and whether the brand publicizes social and environmental goals.
Project Just was founded by Natalie Grillon and Shahd AlShehail, both Acumen Global Fellows who served in Africa and Asia. Acumen is a nonprofit, “impact investing fund.” The Project Just Web site is funded by the consulting work of the company, and Grillon told WWD the focus of the database is to bolster a brand’s transparency in the market.
“Consumers want to be informed, and want to make better informed choices,” Grillon said. “And as a shopper they have a right to be informed.”
Grillon said Millennials, generally speaking, tend to have a greater interest in where products are sourced, and how they are made. They are ethical shoppers, she said, adding that Baby Boomers who grew up boycotting brands in the 1970s and who are familiar with social justice causes are also driving demand for Project Just.
Grillon said she and AlShehail both had an interest in fashion as well as an interest in social justice. While Grillon was working for a cotton company in Uganda, she saw the positive impact of fair trade policies at work. “But why weren’t consumers hearing about the positive stories of these farmers?” Grillon said. And then there are darker stories too such as when Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh. These experiences and events served as the genesis of Project Just, Grillon said.