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Cyril Naicker on his passion for sustainable fashion industry

Photographer: Gustav Klotz
Photographer: Gustav Klotz

We chat to Cyril Naicker, a fashion industry expert with twenty years experience, on the launch of The Plain Tiger Sustainability Accelerator.

He shares his passion for a more sustainable fashion industry and his role in mentoring brands to achieve this.

You recently launched The Plain Tiger Sustainability Accelerator on Instagram, what was the motivation behind this?

Plain Tiger is the global platform for sustainable and ethical luxury. They curate high quality conscious fashion, beauty, and home decor brands from around the world on to one e-commerce platform. Consumers can access one platform to live a more sustainable life with all deliveries made climate positively.

The brands Plain Tiger work with benefit from their technological, marketing, and operational expertise to help them grow globally. They set a very high standard in terms of the sustainability of brands who can join Plain Tiger, especially in terms of their 5 Conscious Criteria. Plain Tiger found they were having to turn down brands who wanted to be more sustainable but couldn’t, and this didn’t sit well with them. They decided to launch the accelerator to support these brands reach those new heights, leveraging our knowledge, network, and community.

What do you hope to achieve?

Plain Tiger is on a mission to positively impact the planet and its inhabitants by bridging the divide that exists between luxury and conscious commerce. We are motivated by the increasing intent from people to live more mindfully of the environment, and for brands to produce more sustainable products. The reality is that many of them are finding it difficult to do so and Plain Tiger wants to address the problem on both sides of that equation. Our success will result in more conscious consumption globally and help to address the catastrophic effects of climate change caused by human consumption habits.

We are hugely inspired by the opportunity to work with fashion designers and brands through our accelerator, helping them to create new ethically and sustainably made products. Paving the way for their global growth and the further rise of the African fashion industry.

Can you explain your selection criteria for the hopeful candidates?

We will go through each brand and designer and look at how they been working on sustainability and conscious fashion in the past. We are looking for brands and designers that take sustainability seriously and who want to make a better impact on the planet and care about the people that make our clothing within their value chain.

Having been in the fashion industry for many years, what in your opinion has been the most significant change, positive and negative within the fashion landscape?

I have been actively involved in the fashion industry in South Africa for the last twenty years and working at different stages of the value chain. The most significant change has been the rise of fast fashion. We live in a throw-away culture which adds to this problem. In terms of the positive, we have seen that 70% of consumers want brands to share detailed information about the wages and working conditions of people in their supply chain (Fashion Revolution Consumer Survey 2020). This gives me hope that although the fashion industry is wasteful, the landscape is changing, and we have the power to shift mindsets. Therefore, the Accelerator Program is so important.

Are you optimistic about the future of fashion in Africa and globally, considering the pandemic and its devastating effects?

I am hugely optimistic about the future of fashion in Africa and globally. Africa is at a tipping point because never has the importance of telling our story to the world been so important. We understand triumph over injustice, we know the power of unity because as a continent, we have faced enormous hardships. History records this narrative of survival and not just survival but overcoming against all odds. These stories of hope are translated into the clothing we wear. History of cloth and the clothing we wear in Africa tell these stories.

Also, interesting to note, 78% of consumers want brands to share detailed information about the environmental impacts of their products (Fashion Revolution Consumer Survey 2020). This gives me hope that globally, the future of fashion is in good hands.

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