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How Better Fiber Choices Accelerated Guess’ Sustainable Goals

Guess is synonymous with heritage design and high-profile celebrity campaigns, but the Los Angeles brands wants to be known for something more than its premium denim roots. This spring, the brand is amplifying its sustainable mission with Guess Eco, a men’s and women’s collection of apparel made with environmentally conscious materials.

Materials used in the S/S ’20 collection include organic cotton, recycled polyester and Lenzing’s Tencel and Modal fibers derived from sustainably managed forests.

With denim being a key area of focus for Guess, the brand also found an opportunity to use Tencel x Refibra, a fiber technology that helps reduce industry waste by upcycling cotton scraps in manufacturing. The Guess Eco Luxe denim line includes the women’s 1981 flares, skinny jeans and high-rise fits in light to medium washes. For men, Eco Luxe denim options span slim tapered denim jeans to skinny and super-skinny jeans.

The collection is part of Guess’ company-wide efforts to make its business more sustainable—from fiber selection to the type of marketing and PR events it hosts, including the media event it hosted this week in New York City. Attendees were asked to bring unwanted clothes for recycling  and were sent home with fresh vegetables, reusable straws and cutlery.

“At Guess, we are really trying to make sustainability a part of everybody’s job description,” Jaclyn Allen, the company’s director of corporate sustainability, said at the event.

Guess ramps up its sustainability messaging.
Jaclyn Allen, Guess director of corporate sustainability, talks about the Guess Eco in NYC. Courtesy

Sustainability is the way forward for Guess. Since 2016, the company has sponsored a free sustainable fashion course at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDI) in L.A. for students and its employees, Allen said. Guess also launched ReSourced, a product recycling program in all of its stores, and introduced Guess Vintage, a collection of secondhand garments, to help promote circularity.

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The brand’s goal is to offer at least 25 percent of its products as “eco” by 2021. And it is more than halfway there. Guess Eco represents more than 15 percent of the brand’s overall men’s and women’s selection for Spring/Summer 2020. “We have made tremendous progress in the last year,” Allen said, adding that none of the collection was sustainable one year ago.

Part of the brand’s rapid transformation to become more sustainable lies in its decision to choose better ingredients. Because fiber and fabric production account for over half of fashion’s impact, Guess is improving its environmental impact by first transforming its materials selection to include more sustainable alternatives, Allen said.

Guess is ramping up its sustainability messaging.
Guess Eco Luxe jean Courtesy

And more is to come, she said. In December 2019, Guess signed on to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign program, which provides guidelines that set minimum requirements on garment durability, material health, recyclability and traceability. The guidelines are based on the principles of the circular economy and will work to ensure jeans last longer, can easily be recycled and are made in a way that is better for the environment and the health of garment workers.

Allen said jeans made with Jeans Redesign guidelines will be commercially available next year.

Guess is validating these sustainable measure through annual reports. “Sustainability reporting is something that is really important to Guess,” Allen said, noting that the company has its report externally validated by an auditor. “They scrutinize every sentence in our sustainability report, every data, to make sure it is balanced… and to make sure it is true.”

That is the key, she added, to building a sustainability program that is based in facts and data.