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Common Objective, or CO, has a long history behind it.

The origins of a movement…

In the lead up to 2000, Naomi Klein's No Logo, the millennium development goals, and leadership by pioneering brands like the Body Shop, Patagonia, and Ben & Jerry’s, inspired a business movement. Entrepreneurs and activists started to see business as an opportunity to achieve change - faster, and more sustainably than either charity or protest.

By 2005 this movement was gaining pace, as business leaders all over the world founded and expanded businesses with goals beyond profit. The concept of business in 3 dimensions (3D) was born - the “triple bottom line” in which people, planet, and profits are considered equally fundamental to business success.

Fashion in 3D

In no other industry is the case for 3D business as compelling as fashion. No Logo laid bare the tragedies in garment supply chains, and sweatshop exposures continue to be a press staple. Yet fashion business, when done well, can be transformative in its impact. From creating sustainable livelihoods that end a cycle of poverty, to creatively addressing environmental challenges, the fashion industry has become a magnet for brilliant entrepreneurs with ambitions to build businesses that change lives. And they have done it through marketing fantastic products. What could be more inspiring than a stunning piece of fashion design - that has a transformative impact? (especially to those of us who are lovers of fashion…)

From 2000, there were growing numbers of individuals seduced by the concept of fashion business, done well, from across the supply chain, and all over the world. And they faced many challenges. Succeeding in fashion business is hard - supply chains are complex, the market is competitive, it is difficult to stand out. Succeeding sustainably adds another dimension - it means considering where and how materials and production are sourced, navigating (and paying for) certification, and operating to fair and sustainable standards without compromising the product.

Founding the Ethical Fashion Forum

In 2005, a group of entrepreneurs and business owners got together in London. We had a common objective - to build successful businesses with a positive impact for people and the environment. We believed that we would be able to achieve that objective more easily by joining forces. A year later the Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF) was formalised with 20 founding members from 4 continents, and a mission to make it easier for fashion businesses everywhere to succeed in 3D.

Scaling up

These were important achievements - but for the team behind EFF, they were not enough. Our network was made up of leaders and pioneers. We were mainly working with people who already had an interest in sustainability, or were already leading the field. We were only engaging with the tip of the fashion iceberg, and we knew that to have real impact, we needed to scale up our reach - in a big way. We also saw an exciting opportunity to build on what we had begun with a tool which would support fashion people everywhere. Our diverse audience was short on time, they needed specific information and connections tailored to them, at their fingertips - and we were confident we could do that for them.

So, we embarked on the next phase of our work - to design a better solution that would allow us to scale our impact, raise investment to make it happen, and start to drive change on a broader scale. By the end of 2016, we had raised equity investment from an impressive line up of brands and suppliers, including leading names like Roland Mouret, pioneering brands and suppliers such as Komodo, Thought, and Mantis World. Harold Tillman CBE, the longest serving chair of the British Fashion Council, joined as founding investor and chair.

The CO platform

Our new brand, Common Objective, goes back to the roots of this business movement. All business has a Common Objective - to generate financial returns and prosper. All society has a Common Objective - to maintain a global environment in which we can prosper. Common Objective abbreviates to CO - standing for better business.

Our mission with CO has not changed. We aim to make it easier for fashion businesses everywhere to succeed in 3D.

But our methods have. We’re building on our learning over 10 years in the design of the CO platform, and how it will function. We have 3 core goals for the functionality of the site:

1. Creating a fundamental tool

CO aims to make it easier for all fashion professionals and businesses to do business better - to find the right suppliers, grow their sales base, and get their products right - whether or not they are interested in sustainability.

2. Matching

The CO site functions like a match.com for the fashion industry. Users specify their needs and get matched - with suppliers, buyers, experts and resources, so that they can achieve their goals. Saving them time and money, and helping them to get where they need to go, faster.

3. Rewarding sustainability

Several elements of CO business profiles carry a weighting, that impacts search ranking on the site. Thus, businesses that can demonstrate robust ethical and sustainability credentials benefit from increased visibility on the site, and more connections with potential customers. We're creating a level playing field, in which sustainability becomes an opportunity, rather than a cost.

Ethical Fashion Group Ltd

The Ethical Fashion Forum is a not for profit Company Ltd by Guarantee, and in order to raise equity investment to take our work to scale, we needed to set up a company limited by shares. We and our shareholders wanted this company to embody our origins and build on the legacy of the Ethical Fashion Forum.

We therefore named this company the Ethical Fashion Group (EFG). The Ethical Fashion Group owns and operates the new platform, with Common Objective functioning as a trading name for EFG.

The Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF) will continue to operate and to have a website at www.ethicalfashionforum.com. The Ethical Fashion Forum objects are to reduce poverty, further education, and safeguard the environment. The organisation will continue to pursue these objects and to be governed by an independent board.

The CO Vision

Our vision is a world in which business works better for everyone. And the planet

We’re starting with the fashion industry, which for us encompasses apparel, textiles, components, footwear, accessories, and jewellery. When we’re ready, it is our ambition to expand to support other sectors too. We believe that business in 3D - in which sustainability is a goal rather than an add on - can be a solution to the greatest challenges of our time, on a global scale.

Join our Common Objective. Become a founding member today.

Common Objective

Connect with CO

info@commonobjective.co

© Common Objective

Ethical Fashion Group Ltd, First Floor, 3 Princes Street, London W1B 2LD, United Kingdom +44 (0)20 7018 3738

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