We recently received this comment on an Insta post:
When we saw it, at first it made us angry. And then it made us laugh. And then it made us annoyed. And then once we were done cycling full the entire list of emotions on our therapist’s feelings chart… it actually got us thinking.
Are we pretending to be eco-friendly and promoting over consumption?
Now, this actually isn’t the first time we’ve thought about this question.
You see, when we first pivoted our business to focus on environmental impact way back in 2020, it involved doing a lot of research, and one of the most staggering stats we came across is that the average person in the US (and likely Australia too) buys 8 new pairs of shoes per year. When you look globally, that’s up to 19 billion pairs of shoes people are buying annually.
And what’s more is that 90% of these - or 22 billion pairs of shoes - end up in landfill each year. Which is like 7,870 sold out Tay Tay stadiums filled with all the shoes the world is sending to landfill. Every. Single. Year.
This lead us to speak a lot internally about how we weren’t interested in growth for the sake of growth, and we consciously made decisions - things like placing small orders and not taking on investors - to avoid growing the business.
And while creating better shoes was going to be a big part of our new mission, we recognised than in order to create real change, we would also need to educate people on consuming more consciously.
Enter us screaming from the modern day rooftops aka our social media platforms that people should stop buying stuff they don’t need. We made posts about it, we wrote articles about it, we put messaging on our website about it… hell, we even made TikTok dances to it.
We constantly reminded people that the most sustainable thing they could wear is already in their wardrobe, and we told them to think really, really, really carefully before buying a pair of TWOOBS.
Until one day someone told us they were about to buy a pair of shoes from us, and when they saw that messaging, it stopped them buying a new pair of TWOOBS. And then they perused right on over to ASOS… and bought a pair of shoes from them instead.
And when we started to ask around and survey our customers, what we found that was our messaging wasn’t actually stopping people from buying more stuff, it was stopping them from buying more TWOOBS.
So while we may have just found a really effective way to get people to stop buying stuff*, the stuff they weren’t buying was our stuff. The better stuff, the shoes that were being made from better materials, that were carbon offset, that had an end of life solution.
And meanwhile the brands that were out there making the bad stuff, the fast fashion brands that literally only care about making profits, were happily using urgency and buying psychology to get people to buy their products by the bajillions.
What we’ve realised through this journey, is that we can’t change the entire system ourselves. The reality is that we live within this consumerist society, and people are going to be buying shoes,
thousands millions billions of them, every year, and we want to be part of the movement to change that, but it isn’t just going to change overnight.
And so while people are still buying billions of shoes each year, we’re creating shoes that are better. Better for the planet, better for the people who made them, and better than 99% of shoes that are out there on the market.
We’ve finally realised the reason we’re going to grow our sales, and we’re proud to say it isn’t for the sake of growth, but rather it involves a very specific message to fast fashion brands:
We are coming for your customers.
And they are coming to us in the 1000s, so you better do better, or get ready to lose out to something better.
We’ve seen that people are ready for change, and we are here to lead it, not to hold it back.
We’ve realised that having less shoes in circulation doesn’t mean TWOOBS needs to produce less shoes. We need more brands in the world doing what we are doing, and we need to be making less of the bad stuff, not less of the good stuff.
We will of course to continue to educate people on conscious consumerism. We will continue to talk about the issues with over-consuming, to teach people how to spot the brands who are doing better, and to show them why it’s important that they make thoughtful purchases.
And we will continue to show people that if they do need a new pair of shoes, then they can’t do better than TWOOBS.
Jess and Stef xx
*Governments could use this as a learning to create mandatory conscious consumer messaging on all fashion products, because it definitely worked!