If you’ve read Part 1 of this epic life changing 2 part series (too much of a hard sell?) you’re now equipped with an arsenal of fun probing questions that will help you investigate your favourite brands. In Part 2 I’m going to address how you go about asking brands these fun probing questions. You should already have your detective hat at the ready but I hope you’ve managed to procure a trench coat and a magnifying glass to fully embrace the role of brand detective. Otherwise what’s the damn point?
There is no perfect way to ask your questions and there is a really good chance that you won’t get any answers. If I had a nickel for every time a brand didn’t respond to me I would have lots of nickels. That doesn’t mean it’s an impossible task and you shouldn’t bother. There are ways to maximise your chances.
HOT TIP: Have fun with it. Don’t go into this fact finding mission ready to blast the poor souls you come into contact with. Crack a joke or two, make a new friend. Play good cop.
The Shop Assistant Probably Won’t Know
Personally, I normally shy away from asking shop assistants for more information unless I know they’ll probably be able to answer my questions. I think it puts them in a really awkward and uncomfortable position otherwise and I’m not about that. Most brands don’t educate their shop assistants about the story behind the clothes. In most cases it’s a fruitless endeavour so don’t waste your time.
For example, I once asked a shop assistant at one brand about their environmental policies because their website was really out of date. I watched her squirm and she really couldn’t tell me much beyond saying that they were implementing a recycling program for office paper. In my opinion recycling isn’t something you should get points for, that’s just something you should do. Like I said, fruitless endeavour.
Online Chat Thingies are Better But Sometimes You’re Left Hanging
Online chat thingies are a different kettle of fish. Hang on a sec, where does that saying coming from? Who is putting fish in kettles? Doesn’t sound very fair. I googled it and you can find out more about the origin of the saying here. You’re welcome. Back to the matter at hand. Online chat thingies are a wonderful way to ask a brand questions. Not every brand will have this service available on their website but it’s a great opportunity if they do. You’re certainly not guaranteed an answer but at least the person on the other end has a fighting chance to go and find the information or direct you to someone who knows more without losing face. Oh the internet, you glorious thing you.
I’ve had both good and bad experiences with the online chat thingy. Patagonia are the masters. I asked an obnoxiously specific question about the material of the patch on their jeans. They were delightful, went in search of the answer and came right back with it. Patagonia are the gold standard of online chat thingies.
On the other hand, some other brands are not as ready to help. After some light introductory banter, I asked one brand a question about their supply chain and the person on the other end disappeared. Never to be heard from again. I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was abducted by aliens but regardless my questions went unanswered. And this was a brand that advertised themselves as “sustainable”. Red flag. Don’t shop there.
HOT TIP: Butter up the online chat thingy operator. Talk about how much you love the brand and talk about specific products you want to buy. And then, BAM, hit them with the questions in the nicest possible way. A nice BAM. Make sure you treat this faceless other with the utmost respect. Always. Be nice. Be patient.
Old Fashioned Email Might Work
Email can definitely work, unless it doesn’t, but it’s always worth a try. Most brands have a “Contact Us” page on their website. Surprisingly this is where the email addresses of the people to contact will be located. You were surprised, right? My detective wisdom knows no bounds. Some brands have the online form thingy instead and that works much the same way.
Keep your initial email positive. Nobody is going to help answer your questions if you attack them. As I said before, be nice. If you don’t hear back within the week, email again. Continue to send through perfectly nice emails weekly until they realise you’re not going away. I had to do this with a brand that replied quite promptly to my initial email telling me that they would get back to me with answers. If I hadn’t continued to lovingly bug them I’m pretty certain they never would have got back to me and admitted that they didn’t have the answers. Persistence is key. I think this particular brand was hoping I would just go away. Sorry not sorry. Kudos to them though for their truthful response.
Tweet Up a Storm, or Maybe Just An April Shower
If these methods don’t work you could always tweet at the brand. Include the Fashion Revolution handle if you think that might put the pressure on. It’s not my first choice just because the Twitter hurts my insides. I’m not a twitterer. But if you like the Twitter and want answers it may be your only way. We recently tweeted at Zoe Blake asking her for information about how the clothing for her new label was made. We’re still waiting for a response. But we’ll keep at it.
Do you have any questions for a particular brand? Want us to help you get answers? Or maybe you tried this approach and want to share the results? Get in touch!