Why Glasgow fashion brand Finnieston clothing will donate all its profits to charity

The founder of one of Scotland’s most talked-about fashion brands, Finnieston Clothing, has described how overcoming mental health struggles caused by lockdown and disillusionment with the industry has inspired him to turn the company into a purpose driven business. 
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The move means Glasgow-founded Finnieston Clothing will donate all profits to good causes – and arrives in tandem with a ‘focus on bricks and mortar’ through the opening of a new store in Shawlands. The fashion brand, launched in 2020, currently sells its popular workwear-inspired garments from its Byres Road branch and a successful online store. 

However, disillusioned by the fashion industry and following a personal mental health battle, founder Ross Geddes has vowed to donate profits to mental and environmental initiatives in a move that has been criticised by others in the industry. 

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Geddes, said: “We’re appealing to conscious consumers who want to feel and touch the garments, who are more likely to shop local, and who want to make a positive impact with their purchasing decisions. Every single time you buy a Finnieston product, you will help to promote and aid mental, physical, and environmental health in Scotland and beyond.

“I want to build a business the world needs, I hope we succeed, and in doing so encourage brands to use this as a template to improve their business practices. People in the industry have described my decision to switch to a social enterprise as ‘commercial suicide’, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.”

Just a few months after launch in 2020, Finnieston Clothing was forced to close its Byres Road shop due to lockdown. It sparked a mental health struggle that was the catalyst for Geddes making major life changes as he embarked on a journey of exploring men's mental health retreats, plant medicines, breathwork, an ADHD diagnosis, and ultimately, the transformation of his business to become a fully-fledged purpose-driven business.

The dad-of-one explained: “I was panicking as we’d ordered too much stock but our shops were closed due to lockdown. Alcohol became my coping mechanism. “My ADHD diagnosis was the catalyst I needed to change my life. Since, my negative internal dialogue has calmed down. I have stopped drinking coffee and alcohol. I do breath work and cold water therapy every day, and I’ve tried plant medicines.

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“It’s been an awakening. It feels like I’ve been turned inside out, so it was inevitable the business would have to change too. Having a capitalistic business no longer worked for me, so if it was to keep going, a purpose driven business  was the only option. 

 “I’m so grateful to have my partner, a healthy baby and a roof over my head – I want to give something back. I’ve found peace, for now, but many haven’t. There’s a mental health crisis – and we know we can help.”

Finnieston’s products, inspired by Glasgow’s rich industrial heritage, are all made in either the UK or Portugal, with a focus on sustainable materials and local producers. Its knitwear and beanies are made in Stewarton; chord coats made in Fife; and they work with a Dundee cotton mill. Jackets in the winter 24 line will even be produced with wool from a sheep farm in Eaglesham, run by his 91-year-old grandpa. 

Geddes has decided to make serious changes to the business in a bid to halt what he describes as the fashion industry’s greed-driven ‘race to the bottom’. 

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As well as selling its own products in store, Finnieston also stocks a select collection of other brands, but Geddes has discontinued a number of lines due to ever-increasing prices despite a marked drop in quality. He said: “I refuse to sell poor quality clothing made cheaply for eye-watering prices. It’s a race to the bottom. ​​We want to be the antithesis to fast fashion. Clothes built to last, built for purpose, and built for the future. All our clothes have a long lifespan – we always think about cost per wear – and we offer a repair service. They’re investible pieces. 

“Going forward, we will educate consumers about the industry so they can be more informed. We will be transparent about the costs involved in making our garments and where those profits go. We will shine a light on the fashion industry. 

“Due to rising costs, brands are being cornered into either compromising on quality or selling clothing at a price that most people can’t afford. It’s cheaper to go to the far East, but we’re standing by our commitment to quality, and we always make conscious decisions about where the products are made.”

Finnieston’s second store will open this week, just as its new winter collection launches in both West End and Shawlands. 

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Geddes, who also lives in Shawlands, added: “Just as I believe in giving back, I believe in bricks and mortar. When shops close from high streets, it’s society’s loss, so I want our brand to support high streets. I believe there’s still a major appetite; I’m sticking to my guns and focusing less on online where fashion brand’s are fighting a losing battle. 

“I’ve always wanted to open a unit in the southside. It’s where I live and we know from our online orders that much of our demand comes from that area. There’s enough cafes in that area – it’s time for a few more shops.”

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