The brand’s commitment to clearing virgin plastic from its pipeline starts with smart fall staples made from 3 million recycled plastic bottles.
In case you missed the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s sobering report that dropped earlier this month, the gist of it was that decades of pumping harmful emissions into the atmosphere has serious consequences. Solving a global crisis that threatens the human race isn’t going to be solved quickly or easily, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be done. Direct-to-consumer darling Everlane wants to be part of a solution. That’s why this week, the company is announcing a plan to to eliminate all virgin (or newly-manufactured) plastic from its supply chain by 2021.
In the past 60 years, more than 8 billion tons of plastic have been fabricated—and it’s here to stay. “We knew we needed to take responsibility and say no to creating more plastic, and renew what’s already here. It wasn’t easy, but we believe we have a responsibility to improve the environment, and companies who aren’t doing this are actively choosing not to,” Everlane founder and CEO Michael Preysman told GQ over email. “The global supply chain is taxing our planet and we need to change the system if we want the planet to have a future. Companies need to lead the change and educate the world on the issues and how they can be improved.”
Functionally, Everlane is going to accomplish its ambitious goal by redeveloping the yarns, fabrics, and raw materials containing virgin synthetic fibers that it uses into versions that feature recycled components instead. The effort that kicks off with the on October 24 launch of ReNew, a capsule of fall-ready outerwear and layers crafted from materials created out of 3 million recycled plastic bottles. (Specifically: a puffer jacket that uses 16 recycled bottles, a fleece sweatshirt that renews 35 plastic bottles, a zip fleece that uses 41 and two parkas, long and short, that are composed of 60 and 55 plastic bottles respectively) You wouldn’t know it, though, looking at the pieces—and that’s the point. A ReNew nylon anorak or polyester fleece zip doesn’t announce itself as anything other than one of Everlane’s familiar offerings, but the customer can feel a hell of a lot better about buying it—and, Preysman hopes, maybe even get inspired. “Our goal is to reduce our impact on the environment, renew where we can and ultimately get customers to think the same way,” he says. “It’s our responsibility to dedicate time and resources to developing new materials and products that are more sustainable, so customers have a choice and can make better decisions.”
It’s all sounds simple enough on paper—just swap out new plastic for recycled plastic—but in practice required a massive operational and production overhaul for the brand. “ReNew took us over two years to develop because the materials simply weren’t out there,” says Preysman. “We wanted sustainability without sacrificing quality or price. That was tough.” In addition to the clothes themselves being virgin plastic-free, the polybags used for shipping them are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. And in 2019, all of Everlane’s offerings will ship in the environmentally-friendlier packaging.
Sustainability and the fashion world have historically not been the best bedfellows. For every Stella McCartney or Patagonia out there, there are dozens of others without the desire or infrastructure to his the same standard. But where Everlane leads, many tend to follow and Preysman is hoping that holds true here: “Our hope is that others will see that this is possible and work towards a more sustainable future.”
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