sustainability

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Reformation Yellow
Image source: Reformation

In a fashion retail scene where success and sustainability are rare bedfellows, Yael Aflalo is an exception to the rule. Since founding her eco-friendly e-brand Reformation in 2009, cool girls everywhere haven’t been able to get enough of the B-Corp’s wear-everywhere designs and empowering spirit. Come 28 October, you can catch her Fireside chat at the close of day 1 of our New York Summit. In the meantime, here’s our quick fire Q+A with one of the year’s most enviable – and ethical – e-brand successes.

How did you come to found Reformation? Could you connect the dots between previous roles on your CV, and how they led to your current one?

I founded Reformation in 2009 after working on my previous clothing line Ya-Ya for 10 years. Reformation is an extension of my background in fashion design, but a shift in purpose. While I was working on Ya-Ya, I grew frustrated with the amount of waste produced by fashion and started to dislike the industry’s common practices. On a work trip to China, I was overwhelmed by the pollution that I saw first hand, and I knew that I had to make a change. At the time, there weren’t many brands that were making clothes that I would want to wear that were also sustainable. So that’s what I set out to do with Reformation: make beautiful clothes that are also sustainably produced.

In a world guilty of huge amounts of clothing waste, how exactly has new technology helped you carve a business that leads with sustainability?

We lead with sustainability across all areas of our business – from the start with fabric sourcing, to what customers do with our products after they are done wearing them.

Reducing waste in the fashion industry was one of the main motivators for starting Reformation. We started by recycling vintage and deadstock fabrics. That doesn’t necessarily require new technology, but does require setting up a supply chain that emphasises reuse. We still source vintage and deadstock (currently about 40% of our fabrics), and are developing new, low-impact fabrics using recycled yarns or innovative textile fibres like Tencel.

We also partner with a clothing recycler to create an easy, web-based service for people to recycle their stuff when they are done wearing it. They can even use a dashboard to track their environmental impact and see where their stuff ends up. And we work hard to practise sustainability in everything in between: from sustainable local manufacturing, to green operations and biodegradable packaging. To us, it’s about leading the movement towards a world where sustainable manufacturing is the status quo, and where customers can feel empowered to make small shifts that make a big difference.

Reformation’s focus on sustainability goes hand in hand with a strong message of self-confidence for women of all shapes and sizes. How do you think technology can help brands create clothing with the individual customer – her fit and her tastes – in mind?

It’s about listening, getting feedback, and creating a business model that is agile and quick enough to respond to what customers are saying – with the products they buy (and don’t buy), with feedback to customer service, and even in Instagram comments. With Reformation’s business model and technology, we’re able to go from design to finished concept in a matter of weeks. This allows us to constantly innovate and truly design based on our customer’s feedback.

What is the importance of B Corp certification, for you personally and in the current retail landscape as a whole?

Applying to be a B Corp seemed natural. We didn’t have to change business practices to be eligible for certification because sustainability has been at the core of who we are and what we do from the beginning. But the B Corp assessment helped us report what we do to make a difference in the world, and identify best practices and areas to improve as we grow. We hope other apparel companies join to foster more transparency, move past compliance, and truly do the right thing for customers, employees and the environment.

What would your advice be to young creatives setting up their own e-brands?

Find your own way. The more you define your own method and voice, the more important what you do becomes. Your point of view and your vision are the things you have to offer, so use them.

To hear more from Yael, book your ticket for the Decoded Fashion NYC Summit on October 28-29.

Reported by Claire Healy

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Reformation
Image source: EcoCult

As the online retail landscape recovers from the Warby Parker effect, 2015 has seen the rise of a new breed of e-brand to play catch-up with. With a refreshing focus on sustainability and affordability – no middle men here – these brands have the savvy consumer firmly in mind.

In short, the retail start-up scene is booming, and the only way you can shop them is via their websites. Ahead of Reformation founder Yael Aflalo’s appearance at our New York summit in October, we deconstruct the top e-brands to keep an eye on this year to find out what makes them work.

Reformation

Reformation is a brand with a simple premise – clothes for self-confidence and sustainability. But since launching in 2009, the e-brand’s been nothing short of a revolution. Founded by Yael Aflalo, the LA-based brand’s eco-friendly business model makes the most of what technology has to offer. It tracks and publishes the environmental footprint of every item, uses sustainable technological fabrics like Tencel, and has even created its own clothing recycling and returns service as part of every purchase.

Finery London

Launched in February 2015 (thanks to funding and online distribution deals from the Rocket Internet-backed Global Fashion Group), Finery London’s combination of key fashion heads and e-commerce nous has been a winning formula ever since. The brand was able to tap GFG’s global online distribution network from the start, meaning it could get past the usual hurdle of employing the best factories. More importantly, the eclectic high-street-meets-high-end clothes are great – with a design team including Caren Downie (ASOS) and Emma Farrow (Topshop), it’s no surprise.

Linjer

Calling itself the “Warby Parker for luxury leather bags”, Linjer has set its own bar pretty high. Founders Jennifer Chong and Roman Khan started the brand after a hunch that the overpriced leather bag market could do with a serious shake-up. Defying the unreasonable mark-up on luxury designer leather goods, they sell their bags for a quarter of the price. As one commenter puts it on their ProductHunt page: “Linjer has simply mastered the art of optimised retail.” Sound good? You can support the Oslo brand’s Kickstarter fund here.

Tickets are now available for our NYC Summit here.

Reported by Claire Healy

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Reformation RefRecycling
Image source: Reformation, Youtube

LA-based eco-fashion brand Reformation has just launched a clothing recycling scheme that aims to make the process both effortless and social.

Working in partnership with US clothing recycler Community Recycling, Reformation includes a RefRecycling label with online purchases. Recipients simply refill the delivery boxes with their unwanted clothes, and apply the label. A door-to-door pick-up service collects the boxes free of charge and transports them to Community Recycling, which sorts them for reuse or recycling.

In addition, by logging into a personal dashboard on Reformation’s website and entering the tracking number on the RefRecycling label, consumers can see via an online map exactly which one of 50 countries their clothing has been sent to. The dashboard also details the amount of water, trees and emissions saved by individual consumers’ contributions, which is sharable on social media.

Thanks to the increased use of Lifecycle Analysis – a tool which helps measure a product’s environmental impact during its lifecycle – many retailers are focusing their energies on end-of-life schemes as a key element of their corporate responsibility strategy. However, Reformation’s scheme stands out for its hyper-convenience and social engagement.

Reformation has also launched the #OutfitofthePast campaign – a fun initiative that focuses on fashion and humour rather than worthy messaging to encourage consumer engagement with sustainability. Customers are asked to share an old photo of themselves wearing a questionable outfit in order to remind their friends of the unwanted clothes they still have that are ripe for recycling. The winner of the best outfit will receive $500 worth of Reformation vouchers.

By acting as agents of social change, brands are cultivating a sense of authentic brand commitment, which resonates with consumers.

According to US trade association Smart, 85% of clothing ends up in landfill in the US each year. But while initiatives like those from Reformation help to divert some of this waste, such schemes are not without criticism. Much of the clothing that is sent for recycling, whether from charity shops or brands, ends up on sale in Africa, which has impacted negatively on local textile and clothing industries.

Reformation’s Founder & CEO, Yael Aflalo will be speaking at our NYC Summit, book your ticket here.

Guest post Stylus.com by Melanie Plank

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“An e-commerce company called VIDA, backed by Google Ventures, Universal Music Group and others, is today launching today its site that connects shoppers with “socially-responsible” apparel and accessories from artisans and designers around the world. The company is also disclosing its $1.3 million seed round investment, which additionally includes The Valley Fund, Nanon, Don Mattrick’s Beehive Holdings, Dave Morin’s Slow Ventures, and Jesse Draper.”

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Decoded Fashion - Weekly Story - Vida

 

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