No longer business as usual, B Corps are in fashion

By Melissa | News
Posted Apr 24, 2013

Each of us holds a significant amount of power when it comes to our choices. It is when we put our powers together that we can really make a difference. That being said, power is widely, and greatly, held by government and corporations hence the importance of the – not new but still not so commonly known- B Corps. The “B” is for Benefit and is a certification earned by a company once they “meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency” as stated on their website and determined by the B Lab- the non-profit organization that developed the certification. The goal is to redefine success in business; across all spectrums of industry.

The new “benefit corporation”—usually referred to as a B Corp—creates the legal framework for firms to remain true to their social goals. To qualify as a B Corp, a firm must have an explicit social or environmental mission, and a legally binding fiduciary responsibility to take into account the interests of workers, the community and the environment as well as its shareholders. It must also publish independently verified reports on its social and environmental impact alongside its financial results. Other than that, it can go about business as usual.

The first fashion company and the fifth founding B Corp was Indigenous Designs. Indigenous Designs partners with Peruvian artisans for shared success. Working with organizations to provide training, financing and education, it is possible to interlace the company’s financial performance with that of the craftsmen. After seeing the potential of the B Corp vision, plan and community, president of Indigenous Designs, Matt Reynolds, wanted to protect and cement all stakeholders into their corporate law to safeguard the company’s integrity and legacy.

Also joining the movement, Patagonia became the first business in California to file as a benefit corporation. The California based company earned $500 million dollars in profits last year. After 40 years of doing business the old way, Patagonia’s founder decided it was time to make a change. “In 5 or 10 years from now we’ll [be] looking back and say that was the start of the revolution,” said Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard. “The existing paradigm is not working, this is the future.” In the fall, Pantagonia will be launching their responsible economy campaign that will look beyond sales, numbers and consumption and towards quality of life in relation to prosperity in addition to the role nature plays.

Fashion companies are in good company with change.org, Method Products, Inc. and more. Currently they are “728 Corporations, in 26 Countries, 60 different Industries, all with 1 Unifying Goal” to “solve social and environmental problems.”

To qualify as a B Corp, a company must first earn a minimum of 80 (out of 200) points based on their governance, workers, community and environment. Then agree to a set of terms and sign the Declaration of Interdependence-  the last point of which states

“we are dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.”

What more is there to say?

*Some B Corps certified fashion companies

Apparel: Patagonia Inc., PACT Apparel, TS Designs Inc., IZ Adaptive, Greenlight Apparel, Evoke Apparel, United By Blue, FIGS,  NiceShirt.org, SelflessTee, Lateral Line Inc., Indigenous Designs

Accessories: Warby Parker, UncommonGoods, Icebox Knitting, No One Without

Footwear: Oliberte Limited, Autonomie Project Inc., Feelgoodz LLC, Dansko

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