Behind One Gap Alum’s Quest to Build a Circular, Sustainable Travel Wear Brand

Patrick Robinson was fed up. After his unceremonious dismissal from from Gap in 2011, the veteran designer was ready for some soul searching. He left New York to backpack across national parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone, where his commune with nature only amplified the disconnect between his personal life and professional one. “I’ve always lived…

Denim’s Resale Revolution

Used. Secondhand. Thrifted. Pre-loved. Whatever you call it, resale is becoming big business. The proof is in the statistics: Not only has the clothing re-commerce market grown 21 times faster than its retail counterpart over the past three years, according to secondhand e-tailer ThredUp, which crunched the numbers with analytics firm GlobalData for its 2019…

Eternal Life: How the Denim Industry is Pushing Circularity

Few garments are as tailor-made for the circular economy as denim. When Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss invented rivet-reinforced blue jeans as we know them in 1850s San Francisco, they conceived of them as workwear for prospectors in the grip of the gold rush. For circularity pundits, who want to keep resources in circulation as…

How Important are Partnerships to Moving Sustainability Forward?

The fashion industry loves a good sustainability initiative, and no wonder. As the dire effects of climate change increasingly become front-page news, and throngs of protestors like Extinction Rebellion and Fridays for Future take to the streets, brands with reputations to lose want to be seen doing something—anything—other than fiddling while the world burns. But…

For Denim, Progress Makes Perfect

It’s hard to tell when denim decided it wanted to be a sustainable product. Perhaps it was in 2010, when reports of a “silicosis epidemic” that cost the lives of sandblasting workers hit the mainstream press. Or maybe it was after Greenpeace investigators described blackened rivers in China, India, and Mexico marbled with fetid plumes…

Halloween Costumes Have a Size Problem

When Disguise Costumes released a “sassy”—read: “sexy”—Ursula-style costume for The Little Mermaid fans in 2012, it only came in straight sizes — no plus sizes. Critics immediately fired back. Ursula, as they rightly noted, is a sea witch of substance. “It’s outrageously exclusionary,” a blogger named Tavie wrote at the time. “It basically tells fat…

How Much Did Closing for the Climate Strike Cost Businesses?

Angry masses of young people weren’t the only ones protesting climate-change inaction on Friday. Several brands and retailers, including Allbirds, Burton and Patagonia, temporarily shut their doors in a show of solidarity. Allbirds, the B Corp shoemaker beloved by Hollywood A-listers and Silicon Valley types alike, said it did so to allow employees to participate…

The Environment and Economy are Paying the Price for Fast Fashion

The fashion industry, if you haven’t already noticed, is a dreadful mess, and big-toe shoes and other go-home-fashion-you’re-drunk trends are the least of its problems. Apparel and footwear production currently accounts for 8.1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, or as much as the total climate impact of the entire European Union. Euromonitor analysts warn…

Why Tackling ‘Audit Fatigue’ Can Lead to More Sustainable Factories

The manufacturing landscape has altered considerably over the past several decades. In the 1960s, roughly 95 percent of apparel sold in the United States was manufactured domestically. Today, more than 97 percent of clothing and shoes Americans wear are made overseas. A similar change took place in Britain, where Richard Arkwright introduced a mechanical spinning…

Can a Business Case Be Made for the Circular Economy?

The circular economy is a concept few can wrap their minds around. For one thing, not everyone agrees on how to best incorporate “circularity” into their business models. For another, switching gears of any kind requires change, which, in turn, necessitates some kind of financial investment, at least at the outset. And just what is…

Air Travel Has a Plastic Packaging Problem

On a recent 15-hour journey from Newark to Hong Kong, I was faced with a parade of single-use disposables. There was the plastic-wrapped blanket and plastic-bagged earbuds, for starters. Then came the plastic-packed “Asian” snack mix, the plastic-lined hot beverage cups, and the plastic cold beverage cups ringed with embossed circles. The long-haul meals—a five-spice…