Sourcing Journal’s Sustaining Voices celebrates the efforts the apparel industry is making toward securing a more environmentally responsible future through creative innovations, scalable solutions and forward-thinking initiatives that are spinning intent into action.
For Days’s closed-loop clothing line is a zero-waste revolution in the making.
Pit-stained T-shirts will never be part of the sharing economy, For Days co-founder and CEO Kristy Caylor joked at the Fashion Tech Forum in New York City earlier this year. But rather than having the unwearable ratty shirts pile up in landfills, Caylor and fellow fashion veteran Mary Saunders established a “join and swap” model in which For Days members can purchase a $38 T-shirt and then exchange it for a new one as often as they’d like for just $8 per “refresh.”
The used shirts are sanitized, shredded and strengthened with virgin fibers to create new yarn for future tees, creating a closed-loop system that diverts rather than generates waste.
The average consumer buys 10 tees per year and throws away six, said Caylor, citing a 2016 McKinsey & Company report that found that nearly three-fifths of all clothing end up in incinerators or landfills within a year of being produced. As consumer purchasing shifts to access over ownership—and rental and resale models in durable goods categories emerge—For Days aims to shift industry behavior by empowering people to connect with products in a new way, she said.
“We believe people inherently want to make better choices, and few are happy having too much stuff in their closets,” said Caylor. “By simply wearing, living in and swapping For Days products, members get the benefit of a lifetime of insanely great basics and a lifetime of positive impact.”
Consumers who wish to purchase additional shirts can sign up for three-, six- or 10-item memberships. The shirts are manufactured in the For Days’s Los Angeles factory using only 100 percent American-grown Global Organic Standard-certified cotton. Caylor said the company takes long positions on materials to ensure consistent supply even during times of high demand.
The For Days model has caught on; the site is currently wait-listing new members. Growth-wise, the company is also on the ascent: In November, For Days announced it raised $2.8 million in seed funding to scale up production. It’s even working with other brands, including lingerie e-tailer Harper Wilde, to give other items of clothes—even underwear—a new lease on life.
“People are loving and living in their tees,” Caylor confirmed. “The ability to swap any time without guilt is freedom to our consumers. Our products are great: quality fabric, excellent fits and made to last. So utilization is up and waste is down. It's a win-win.”
In what areas has the fashion industry made the biggest strides in sustainability in the last five years?
“The industry has begun to broadly recognize the issue which is a big step forward. We've seen stronger pre-competitive collaboration, more sustainable material innovation and advancements in recycling technologies. But we need more!”