Guess Inc., director of sustainability
Jaclyn Allen
Guess Inc., director of sustainability

Deep Dive

Advancing a global apparel brand’s sustainability strategy is challenging during normal circumstances, let alone in pandemic, but Jaclyn Allen is coming out the crisis with big wins for both Guess and the environment.

Bringing jeans to market that adhere to Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jean Redesign guidelines is one of those achievements. At Allen’s suggestion, Guess took an exploratory approach to achieving the circular requirements by sponsoring a course at Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising to help with research and development. The challenges were immense—from factory closures, design flaws and cost and brand aesthetic difficulties, but the team didn’t give up.

“This project introduced significant key learnings to our team in terms of durability, recyclability, and materials health that we are now applying to more of our denim products, as well as to our overall product portfolio,” she said.

Collaborating on Guess’ sustainability report, which completed a “reasonable” assurance examination by Big 4 accounting firm KPMG, was another. Allen’s global team worked to create a testing and controls protocol for nearly 100 metrics disclosed in the report. Though a “laborious process,” it makes Guess one of the only fashion companies in the world to seek such rigorous review of its sustainability communication.

What is the biggest misconception that consumers have about sustainable denim?

The biggest misconception of sustainable jeans is that they are stiff, expensive or less stylish, but sustainable denim has come so far. Also, the most sustainable denim is the denim that you love, that you will keep and re-wear for decades. Investing in quality pieces with brands that share your values is the most sustainable way to shop.

What can the denim industry do to ensure a positive post-pandemic rebound?

Focus on sustainability, innovation, fit and comfort.

Skinny jeans: Over or a new staple?

On temporary pause. I am more concerned with the return of low rise.

How can denim retail improve?

Better education on sustainable denim.

How many pairs of jeans do you own?

Approximately 10, but now that skinny jeans are “paused” even fewer.

Which jeans do you wear the most, and why?

My Smart Guess flare jeans. They are so comfortable and stylish. They make me feel both sophisticated and sexy.