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.
Reformation uses collaboration as a driver of sustainable innovation.
Reformation was pushing sustainability before it was fashionable.
A cool-girl pick that also happens to be eco-friendly, the women’s apparel and footwear brand has made collaboration a central theme of its corporate strategy. It has teamed up with Osomtex to upcycle fabric scraps, joined forces with ThredUp and Rent the Runway to keep clothing in circulation, collaborated with Bulgaria’s By Far to create footwear from deadstock leather and suede, made recycled lingerie with Cosabella and partnered with New York’s La Ligne on a line of recycled sweaters.
While many brands blanch at resale amid fears of cutting into profits, Reformation, which operates its own vintage store in Los Angeles, has no such qualms.
“Sustainability is our core mission and there is nothing more sustainable than buying vintage and repurposing products, which is why we invest in circularity initiatives that eliminate the concept of waste by reusing and recycling materials back into the fashion system,” said founder and CEO Yael Aflalo. “We want to provide as many options as possible for consumers to shop sustainably.”
The company also knows doing good is good business sense, as these “like-minded” partnerships enable the company to reach new audiences, she noted.
But rather than shy away from its shortcomings, Aflalo said Reformation continues to prioritize transparency where more work is needed. As part of this, the company released a Sustainability Report at the end of 2018 to track its progress and indicate where it fell short of expectations.
In February, the company introduced its “Carbon is Canceled” campaign to help consumers reduce their environmental footprint. Partnering (of course) with NativeEnergy, Reformation encourages customers to purchase “climate credits” that fund CO₂-offset efforts such as wind farms and reforestation. Participants can also switch their home utilities to wind energy through Arcadia Power in return for a $100 Reformation e-gift card.
The company set a goal to circulate at least 100,000 garments in 2019 and had already reused or recycled 61,119 garments by the end of Q1, Aflalo said. It’s currently developing environmental impact standards for its supply-chain partners, to be released in an upcoming report.
All of these efforts combine to deliver a medley of green choices and objectives, intended to encapsulate Reformation’s belief that fashion and sustainability can peacefully coexist.
“The industry as a whole is in need of some serious systemic change,” Aflalo said. “We want to be a part of solutions to clean up the industry, whether that’s helping to develop new closed-loop fibers, ensuring living wages for our factories or innovating more efficient dye practices.”
In what areas has the fashion industry made the biggest strides in sustainability in the last five years?
“Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. This is finally becoming more of a mainstream understanding, and brands and consumers alike are realizing their roles.
As a 100 percent carbon-, waste- and water-neutral company, our goal is to use our platform to educate other leaders in the fashion industry, hold them accountable and push them to make the environmental and social impact a priority. It’s great to see that over the past few years, the industry is taking note and other brands are starting to make changes in how they source, manufacture and report their work.”