As many of you know transparency is something dear to us and it has been part of our business strategy since the beginning when the idea to start Pitupi was still in its very early stages. A direct relation and connection between who works for Pitupi in Albania and who buys our clothes is our contribution to change mindsets and perception in the fashion world.
Usually clothing brands don’t know their value chains: Who made the clothes? Where do raw materials come from? Where fabrics are spun, dyed and so on.
When at Pitupi we initially started to buy our main material, our fabrics, it was out of question not to use GOTS certified materials which guarantees a certain control over the whole value chain from the cotton field to when the fabric arrives at our workshop in Albania. Of course it would be better to control the value chain ourselves but this has to be realistically achievable, and since that is not possible for a small start up like us with limited financial means, we rely on the certification.
When it comes to other ingredients of our clothes like sewing thread and elastic bands, we try to use products that are available locally in Albania to avoid import procedures (yes, Albania is not a part of the EU and thus those procedures are always a hassle!) and to support local trade. We therefore embarked on finding out where these products come from. To say the least: this has been tough!
What can be generally said is that value chain transparency is something many companies actively try to avoid. So many companies/traders did not want to tell us where raw materials come from and who is the producer of the products. The whole-seller in Tirana who trades sewing ingredients would just tell us that he buys from another trader in Piraeus, Greece and that he could not give us more information on elastic bands or fusible interlining, apart from it being produced in China.
The Turkish company who trades our sewing thread does not want to reveal its producer in Taiwan.
Since a garment is made up of so many more parts than just fabric, we are faced now with some decisions. Should we buy materials only from companies who know their complete value chain and also disclose that information? That means we have to import every single ingredient separately to Albania.
Should we continue supporting local trade and local business?
We think we should find a balance between both: whenever possible find products from local materials made in Albania. We are trying at the moment to start a collaboration with a wood workshop for our wooden buttons for the baby dungarees.
We are on the other hand in the process of changing suppliers (e.g. of our snap fasteners) because the information behind is not sufficient and transparent enough.
However even though the value chain of our product is not yet crystal clear we still feel the need to inform you about where materials come from. That is why each of our garments features a price and material breakdown so you know what’s inside. Just click on the link under the short product description in our shop.