From luxury to high street brands, consumer attitudes towards ethics are driving change across the fashion industry. Savvy shoppers are increasingly seeking ethically conscious brands and companies with a strong commitment to social responsibility.
Company values have become such an increasingly important part of consumers’ purchasing decisions that many brands are developing values-based strategies to drive entrepreneurial success.
Leeds-based Skopes is a brand with social responsibility at its heart. The company - the top tailoring brand in House of Fraser for the past three years - has long been a supporter of charities across the UK.
The brand’s managing director and chairman, Simon Cope insists however that, whilst many companies develop strategies for social responsibility, Skopes’ ethical outlook stems from good old family values.
“My grandfather established the business almost 70 years ago and it is still essentially a family run business with family values, he says. “These values dictate much of what we do in the business; how we deal with people outside the company and how look after our own people.”
The business has evolved rapidly in the past three decades, catering to increasing demand from customers, keeping up with technological advancements and diversifying its portfolio to cater for new audiences.
Skopes’ range now includes a Heritage Collection, the everyday 24/7 Collection, the Commuter Suit as well as its mainstay, the traditional, beautifully crafted and high-quality Skopes Collection. This year, it is on course to sell over 1.3m garments.
Despite rapid growth and diversification, some things have remained the same according to Cope, “We still deliver the highest quality based on the Cope family traditions and we believe in building an ethical brand,” he says.“It’s my view that every successful brand has a responsibility to help others.”
In 2016, Skopes gave a ‘significant portion’ of its profits to charitable causes. Its charitable associations include Sparks, the leading UK children’s medical research charity dedicated to funding and championing pioneering research into conditions affecting babies, children and mums–to-be, championed by House of Fraser.
Skopes also supports the Yorkshire Air Ambulance; PhysCap - a charity dedicated to improving the quality of life for children suffering from severe physical and mental disabilities; and St Vincent’s homeless charity.
In a statement supplied to us, Simon Duncan, director of external business at House of Fraser, said: “Skopes, one of House of Fraser’s long established brand partners, has through the generosity of its MD Simon Cope, supported us for a number of years.
“Simon's continued generosity has allowed House of Fraser to raise over £1,000,0000 in the last five years, which has been directly donated to a number of charities, one of which being Sparks.”
This sentiment was echoed by Paul Gowland, Director of Fundraising at Yorkshire Air Ambulance, who said: “We have worked closely with Simon and the team at Skopes for many years. The support we receive from them helps to save lives across the region. This is invaluable to so many people.”
“Many brands have a very strong history of supporting charities and have done so for many years,” says Cope. “There are small sacrifices that can be made that do not jeopardise business strategies or bring terrible hardships and will help others.
“Life is difficult for all of us at times and we all have financial commitments, but it’s always possible to find a way to give something that could make a massive difference to someone else. You never know when you might have to call upon the help of your local or national charities for yourself and your family.”
Despite Cope’s strong family values permeating every aspect of the Skopes outlook, he is not a lone voice in the company when it comes to its ethical stance.
“We are a tailoring company, we make suits, but we are a people business from the top down,” he says. “As well as our core duties of developing a sustainable business strategy and creating a stable and secure working environment for all 240 employees, our responsibility as the board of directors of Skopes is to support national and local charities. This is the company’s ethos. This is what Skopes was built on and will continue to be built on.”
As consumers become more socially conscious and look for brands with values that align with their own, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers will have to find new ways to inspire purchasers and manufacture genuine relationships with them - no doubt leading to scepticism from some consumers as to the authenticity of their intentions.
This is where Skopes differs. There is nothing forced or cynical about its approach to ethics and charity, such is the company’s dedication to doing the right thing.
If you are looking for high quality garments from a brand that values its positive impact in the community as much as the quality of its garments, then a Skopes suit may well be a perfect fit in more ways than one.
Discover more when Skopes returns to Moda Gent this season.