Sustainable Retailer Toward Opens First Bricks-and-Mortar in Los Angeles
As the fashion industry trends toward a sustainable future, many consumers are still grappling with finding truly sustainable apparel products. A lack of transparency and the effects of greenwashing by some in the industry have consumers calling for more standards to help define what is truly sustainable.
Doing its part by including thoroughly vetted brands focused on sustainability, Toward aims to help consumers make sustainable choices with its first physical storefront in Los Angeles.
The idea for Toward was born during the pandemic when founder Ana Kannan was struggling to find fashionable pieces that were truly sustainable without having to question the company’s sustainable practices. The retailer launched in 2021 with the goal of promoting responsibility and sustainability in the fashion industry. The Melrose Avenue location opened May 10 and only stocks brands such as AGOLDE, Reike Nen, Anna October, House of Sunny and Yuzefi.
Toward thoroughly vets the brands it represents, looking into prospective labels and ensuring they align with Toward’s Responsibility Framework, which is focused on transparency, emissions, materials, waste and chemicals, workers’ rights, water management, animal welfare, biodiversity, and forestry and ethos. The retailer continues the process annually to ensure its brands are staying sustainable and requires proof and metrics in a lengthy questionnaire. Toward also features QR codes throughout the store that take customers to pages that display how the brands are working on building a sustainable industry and future.
“Toward is a brand dedicated to promoting responsibility in the fashion industry. Through our innovative, 100-plus-question Responsibility Framework, we vet today’s leading brands for everything from the ethical treatment of workers in their factories to the ways they limit water usage. Toward was built around the principle of progress over perfection, encouraging shoppers to think critically about their shopping habits and purchases, all while making it easy for them to know that Toward’s offerings are good for the planet,” Kannan said.
Kannan also mentioned that Los Angeles is a great location as shoppers in L.A. are already doing their part to try and be more sustainable with their purchases and so she wanted to create a location here to connect with consumers directly. Toward has hopes of opening more physical locations on the West Coast in addition to expanding east.
“We opened our first physical pop-up location in San Francisco in November and loved being able to connect with consumers and share our message of responsibility in-person. Now that we’re in L.A., we are looking forward to connecting personally with those who are interested in making their shopping habits more eco conscious and sharing leading innovative brands in the responsible-fashion industry,” Kannan said. “We love that L.A. shoppers are already doing the work to think critically about how sustainability should inform their shopping and fashion choices. We wanted to make it easy for those already thinking about new ways to encourage responsibility in their fashion choices to know that the brands they’re shopping are not only environmentally and socially responsible but also committed to creating long-lasting change.”
The retailer has committed to taking innovative measures with the aim of keeping consumers responsible regarding how they shop, such as limiting the number of orders per year to reduce the environmental impacts from shipping. The retailer is even committed to offsetting carbon emissions, including those produced by customers traveling to the store.
“Promoting responsibility is at the core of our mission. In January, we introduced an opt-in order-cap policy, which encourages consumers to think critically about the purchases they make and whether they really need to purchase an item every time they’re looking for a wardrobe refresh,” Kannan said. “We have committed to offsetting the travels of everyone who attends the store within 100 miles to demonstrate that even though there are emissions associated with traveling, we’re committed to responsibility at every step of the Toward experience. Also, all of the furniture in the store is secondhand—we found it crucial to not contribute to production waste by using the pieces that are already out there rather than purchasing new.”
Photos courtesy of Toward.