As Marie Kondo fever continues to lay waste upon dresser drawers across America, castoff bras present a unique problem. Charities like Goodwill don’t accept secondhand bras, and the women’s shelters that do will welcome only the gently used, which means undergarments with ripped seams, popped wires and other signs of regular wear don’t qualify. To the trash can, then?
Harper Wilde, for one, would like to avoid that route. The Los Angeles-based lingerie e-tailer has teamed up with For Days, a closed-loop clothing line that wants to design out textile waste, to launch a bra-recycling program that will save unwanted over-the-shoulder boulder holders from the landfill.
Customers who order bras from Harper Wilde or make use of the company’s seven-day home try-on service will receive a prepaid return shipping label with their box. All they have to do is place their old bras in the box—no matter what the brand or condition—slap on the shipping label and Harper Wilde and For Days will take care of the rest.
The bras, mechanically shredded into fibers, can then find a second lease of life, perhaps as building insulation or furniture stuffing.
Despite the growing ubiquity of take-back programs, apparel recycling is still a less-than-optimal endeavor. Less than 1 percent of materials used to produce clothing are currently recycled, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Harper Wilde, which was founded in 2017, is among a growing phalanx of bra startups that pride themselves as the “anti-Victoria’s Secret.” Replete with frill-free practical styles in a range of nude colors, Harper Wilde tops out at $45 per style. Its home try-on service borrows a page from eyewear purveyor Warby Parker’s playbook, complete with free shipping and free returns to “take the B.S. out of bra shopping.”
The company also channels donations to its official social-impact partner, The Girl Project, which helps girls in 120 countries gain access to education. Along similar lines, its manufacturer hosts a gender equality program that provides its workers with skills development to “further their economic stability.”