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Planet First: Apparel Brands Focus on Fixing the Earth

As Earth Day turns 51, fashion businesses are using the April 22 occasion as a springboard to announce their latest sustainability commitments or unveil new better-for-the-planet initiatives.

Pay-later platform Afterpay used its inaugural livestream shopping event to spotlight sustainable brands while Champion dropped an eco-friendly sneakers and sweats collection. Carter’s and TerraCycle are recycling kids’ apparel and Canada Goose recruited Bill Nye the Science Guy to elevate its sustainability bona fides. Urban Outfitters Inc. and Nordstrom pulled out their checkbooks to support Fabscrap’s textile-waste-ending mission, Amazon leapt into nine renewable energy projects and ReCircled opened a facility enabling garment-to-garment recycling.

But there’s plenty more planet-minded news across the sector.


Allbirds is giving up the goods—well, one of them, anyway. This Earth Day, the cult-favorite footwear brand is open-sourcing a version of its proprietary Carbon Footprint calculator—which it has described as a “key advantage for the company”—at It’s part of Allbirds’ ambition, the company said, to propel the entire fashion industry toward a “greener future,” much like its work with plant-based leather and sugarcane-based outsoles.

The Silicon Valley darling is also “galvanizing” consumers, it said, to urge its fellow brands to add carbon footprint labels to their products by signing a pledge. Allbirds said it wants the fashion industry to “drop the vaguity” and “replace paying lip service to sustainability” with a tangible and objective sustainability metric: carbon.

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“For too long, many brands have focused on marketing sustainability rather than actually implementing holistic, high-impact solutions—and to an extent, it’s worked,” Joey Zwillinger, co-founder and co-CEO of Allbirds, said in a statement. “If we want to continue pushing fashion toward a more sustainable future, we need brands to take responsibility for what they share with consumers. Having a key, universal identifier like Carbon Footprint to evaluate sustainability claims and force accountability from businesses is critical to drowning out the noise.”

Allbirds open-sourced its Carbon Footprint Calculator for Earth Day.
Allbirds open-sourced its Carbon Footprint Calculator for Earth Day. Courtesy

The North Face

The North Face is forging a “path of sustainability from start to finish” with a new strategic vision, named “Exploration Without Compromise,” that it says will protect the environment and leave the planet in a better condition for “future generations of explorers.”

By 2025, the outdoor leader plans to eliminate all single-use plastic packaging and use only recycled, renewable or regenerative versions of its most frequently used materials. By 2023, 100 percent of The North Face’s polyester and 80 percent of its nylon fabrics will be made with recycled content. “Focusing on how we make our products creates the largest environmental reduction for our brand, because more than half of our carbon footprint is generated from product creation,” the company said in a statement.

But changes are already underway. This fall, the brand is set to launch its own “fully circular” adaptations of popular styles. The North Face has also developed three initiatives—its Renewed Collection, Lifetime Warranty and Clothes The Loop programs—that fight textile waste and keep its garments in circulation longer. Starting on Earth Day, consumers will be able to send in their own gently used The North Face items to become part of the Renewed resale program, allowing them to “engage more directly” with the company’s circularity aspirations.

The North Face is also tagging itself. An “Exploration Without Comprise” seal will now easily identify the company’s most sustainable pieces, including Renewed products, on its website and in stores. To earn the badge, apparel, equipment and accessories must be made with 75 percent or greater recycled, organic, regenerative and/or responsibly sourced renewable materials by weight. If the product has a durable water repellent finish, it must be made with non-perfluorinated chemicals.

The North Face is forging a “path of sustainability from start to finish” with a new strategic vision, named “Exploration Without Compromise,” that it says will protect the environment and leave the planet in a better condition for “future generations of explorers.”
The North Face The North Face


Nuuly, Urban Outfitters’ fashion-leasing platform, has teamed up with vintage clothier Riley Vintage to launch Re_Nuuly, an upcycling program that turns damaged rentals into one-of-a-kind creations, keying into Gen Z’s penchant for turning has-been wares into unique new styles.

Its first offering, a 12-piece capsule collection made completely in Los Angeles, “upgrades” upcycled Nuuly items and sourced vintage pieces with paint splatters, embroidery, tie-dye and floral patches, with the goal of extending the life cycles of the garments in a “completely unique way.”

“Since launching Nuuly, we’ve been thinking about creative ways to incorporate circularity into our platform and give our most-loved rentals a second life after reaching the end of their life cycle,”  Sky Pollard, head of product at Nuuly, told Sourcing Jouranl. “We knew Riley Vintage would be the perfect partner for us because of their expertise in working with garments with a past life, so together we were able to transform and reimagine some of our damaged rentals into something that’s unique and tells a story.”

Nuuly partnered with Riley Vintage on an upcycled collection.
Nuuly Courtesy


Lululemon wants a piece of the rental pie, and it’s partnering with Trove to get it. The activewear purveyor announced Tuesday that customers in California and Texas will be able to trade in gently used tank tops and leggings at one of the brand’s 80-plus participating stores or by mail, in exchange for a Lululemon e-gift card, beginning in May. The pilot, dubbed Like New, will broaden into an online re-commerce program, starting June, that will funnel 100 percent of its profits into other sustainability initiatives. Gear that doesn’t meet quality standards will be recycled through Lululemon’s existing partnership with Debrand, a reverse logistics handler.

The yogi favorite is also poised to debut Earth Dye, a new, limited-edition collection made with lower-impact dyes upcycled from the waste of oranges, beets, and saw palmetto trees from the agricultural and herbal industries. The dyes, Lululemon said, use less water, carbon and synthetic chemicals than their conventional fossil-fuel-derived counterparts. The tie-dye process, it noted, will produce a slightly different result each time, so every print is one of a kind.

Both efforts extend from Lululemon’s so-called Impact Agenda, a series of multi-year goals that it unveiled last fall to address social and environmental issues. More announcements, the company hinted, are forthcoming.

“Lululemon is actively working to help create a healthier future, and we are focused on meeting the goals detailed in our Impact Agenda, including making 100 percent of our products with sustainable materials and end-of-use solutions by 2030,” CEO Calvin McDonald said in a statement. “Our Lululemon Like New and Earth Dye initiatives are both meaningful steps towards a circular ecosystem and demonstrate the sustainable innovation underway in product development and retail.”

Fashion businesses like Allbirds and Lululemon are using Earth Day as a springboard to unveil new better-for-the-planet initiatives.
Lululemon is poised to debut Earth Dye, a new, limited-edition collection made with lower-impact dyes upcycled from the waste of oranges, beets, and saw palmetto trees from the agricultural and herbal industries. Lululemon


Fashion e-tailer Revolve, which sells clothing from brands such as Free People, Levi Strauss and Rag & Bone, says it will be introducing a new “sustainable section” on its website that highlights products with better-for-the planet attributes.

Revolve will also be launching its first “fully sustainable” owned brand division, named Tularosa Green, which will comprise of earthy “elevated basics” made with 100 percent organic cotton and technology that uses 40 percent less water. All packaging for the line will employ pre-consumer recycled materials.

The projects are part of Revolve the World, a new platform that aims to “do good for the world” by partnering with organizations that draw attention to “pivotal causes.” In honor of Earth Day, Revolve is supporting One Tree Planted, an environmental nonprofit that helps restore damaged ecosystems and protect biodiversity through reforestation. Revolve’s customers can get involved, it said, by posting a photo using the hashtag #revolvefortheworld. For every snapshot, the e-tailer will plant one species-specific tree within a national park “where it is needed the most.”

“We’ve revolved around the world and felt that it was the perfect time to introduce an ongoing initiative that really provides our customers with another layer of inspiration through action,” chief brand officer Raissa Gerona said in a statement. “We want to make sure that when we do trips and events moving forward that we are significantly more thoughtful about our impact while continuing to raise the bar in our marketing playbook.”

Vestiaire Collection

From now through April 25, secondhand luxury e-tailer Vestiaire Collective will donate up to $24,000 for every new item listed on its app to The OR Foundation, a nonprofit that is raising $250,000 to fund a textile recycling lab and food sovereignty program for the community of Kantamanto, Ghana’s biggest secondhand clothes market.

“The world does not need more new clothes; this is a fact and it shouldn’t be controversial,” Liz Ricketts, The OR Foundation’s co-Founder and director, said in a statement. “I work with communities on the front line of fashion’s waste crisis and I can tell you that the impact of our excess is tangible and devastating on many levels. It is imperative that the fashion industry divest from disposability and do so immediately. We can all do our part by approaching sustainability as a culture, as a way of life, and not as a product. We can acquire clothing worthy of care, worthy of many lives and worthy of one another as mutual actors within a circular economy.”

To sweeten the deal, Vestiaire Collective will offer all item listers the opportunity to win a $1,000 gift card, which can be applied to gently used items from high-end boilerplates such as Marine Serre, Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood. The more items listed, the e-tailer said, the “bigger the donation and the more chances to win.”

“The current pace of fashion production puts too much pressure on our people and planet,” Dounia Wone, Vestiaire Collective’s chief sustainability officer, said. “There’s more clothing out there than humanity will ever need, and so much waste along the value chain. It’s our collective duty to stop this race to the bottom! Every secondhand item reduces this pressure on our environment.”

Vestiaire Collective is raising funds to support a textile recycling lab in Ghana.
Vestiaire Collective is raising funds to support a textile recycling lab in Ghana. Vestiaire Collective


The preppy staple feted this week Re-imagined by J.Crew, an initiative to “realize specific corporate social responsibility and sustainability goals focused on products, supply chain, the planet and third-party partnerships.”

Developed with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals in mind, J.Crew’s commitments include replacing 100 percent of its key fibers, including cotton, with sustainably sourced versions by 2025. The same year, more than 90 percent of the retailer’s cashmere and chino collections will be produced in Fair Trade certified facilities, it said. J.Crew also plans to eliminate virgin plastic from its packaging, which will be “100 percent sustainably sourced,” also by 2025. By 2030, it added, J.Crew operations will be “100 percent carbon neutral,” meaning they’ll generate net-zero carbon emissions.

“We know there are many areas of sustainability that are in our power to impact positively, including tackling issues deeper in our supply chain and supporting the industry’s transition to circularity,” CEO Libby Wadle said in a statement. “By activating our employees, partnering with our stakeholders and listening to our customers, we are developing strategies to address the issues that will have the biggest impact on our products, supply chain and the apparel industry.”

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney launched an Earth Day collection of tees and sweatshirts supporting Greenpeace.
Stella McCartney WWD

The British luxury brand debuted Thursday a capsule collection of T-shirts and sweaters, inspired by vintage activist designs, as part of her spring/summer 2021 lineup. McCartney herself rallied friends of the brand, such as Tamu McPherson, Jessie Andrews, Jayda G and Stéfi Celma, to photograph the pieces in different locations across the globe.

The project dovetails with a campaign to raise awareness of Greenpeace’s Act for the Amazon campaign, which seeks to end deforestation and industrial agriculture, including cattle farming, in the Amazon. There was also a bit of star-aligning that made the collaboration particularly apt. Stella McCartney is celebrating its 20th anniversary as Greenpeace turns 50.

“Stella McCartney has been a vegetarian brand since day one, and I could not be prouder to support an incredible organization like Greenpeace to celebrate our anniversaries and raise awareness of this urgent issue,” McCartney said in a statement. “I hope things do not return to normal in 2021—rather, I hope we return to life more mindful, particularly when it comes to our decisions”

“Precious forests, like the Amazon, should not be destroyed to produce industrial meat sold around the world,” she added. ’Simply reducing meat in your diet can help protect the Amazon from deforestation and safeguard this vital ecosystem and our climate for future generations.”

Ministry of Supply

Ministry of Supply is launching the Infinity∞ program, an extension of its Aero Zero program, that turns old shirts into new ones using a proprietary hybrid mechanical and chemical recycling process it developed with Taiwan’s Shinkong Textile. When a consumer sends back an old Aero Zero shirt, Ministry of Supply will respin it into a new shirt that’s “just as  strong, durable and soft as the original,” the brand said. Customers will return store credit in return. 

Through Infinity∞, the brand said it’s creating the first dress shirt with “infinite use.”

As a Climate Neutral certified brand, Ministry of Supply said it has measured, reduced, offset and certified their entire carbon footprint, but it feels there’s more do, particularly since consumers are on a quarantine-induced decluttering spree.

“After a year of lockdown, consumers are purging their closets of clothing that no longer fits the bill post-pandemic, like dress shirts,” the company said in a statement. “Perfectly good pieces are being discarded, incinerated, downcycled,and tossed in landfills. Ministry of Supply wants to do something about it. The Infinity∞ Program is yet another step toward sustainability, allowing [us] to further explore circularity with [our] garments.”