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Madewell Kicks Off Fall With Recycled Cashmere Staples and More

As pumpkin spice season rolls in across the country, consumers are breaking out their cold-weather gear and swaddling themselves in their softest sweaters. And as the demand for ethically and sustainably sourced garments grows, millennial-friendly brand Madewell has announced the launch of a suite of new product lines and programs just in time for fall.

On Tuesday, the brand debuted a new line of 13 supple cashmere sweaters, joggers, henleys and other staples made with 70 percent globally sourced recycled cashmere, which is woven with 30 percent responsibly sourced wool to enhance its durability.

Madewell has touted itself as the first U.S. retailer to offer products certified by the Good Cashmere Standard, a subsidiary of the Aid by Trade Foundation that pushes for transparency and traceability in the cashmere supply chain to help both goats and farmers. These certified products will be available for sale on Nov. 17.

Madewell claims to be the first U.S. brand to have products certified through the Good Cashmere Standard.
Madewell claims to be the first U.S. brand to have products certified through the Good Cashmere Standard. Madewell

Madewell debuted its Recycled Shop on Tuesday, featuring more than 70 items that consist of at least 50 percent recycled content, including the newly launched cashmere staples. The Shop’s recycled garments will supplement Madewell’s existing Do Well collection, which utilizes responsible materials like organic cotton, recycled PET, Lenzing-made viscose fibers, hemp, Tencel, upcycled fabrics and more.

In addition to cozy sweaters, Madewell is also partnering with traceable wool supplier Nativa on a collection of outerwear dubbed Insuluxe. A new, proprietary wool blend—designed through a collaboration between both parties—has been formulated to stand up to the elements while meeting standards for animal welfare, land management and ethical work conditions.

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As a means of celebrating National Fair Trade Month this October, the company is also releasing a suite of 57 certified styles that meet fair trade standards, including a vintage jean with Western-inspired pockets, along with a boyfriend, high-rise silhouette.

Madewell's recycled cashmere staples will be sold through the brand's Recycled Shop.
Madewell’s recycled cashmere staples will be sold through the brand’s Recycled Shop. Madewell

These efforts follow Madewell’s commitment earlier this year to deepen its sustainable practices across its supply chain, with a special focus on revamping key fibers to include more recycled and ethically sourced options. The company also aims to see carbon neutrality across all of its operations by 2030.

Last year, the brand began its journey toward providing better cashmere when it joined the Sustainable Fibre Alliance, which aims to ensure the long-term viability of the cashmere sector.

Cashmere has seen a resurgence in 2020 as industry upstarts attempt to make the super-soft and desirable material’s supply chain more humane. The health and wellbeing of the goats, in particular, have been called into question as many animals raised in Mongolia have been found to be shorn multiple times per year, depriving them of protection in both the winter and summer months.

Efforts around material innovation, especially the use of recycled and upcycled content, have also taken off in recent seasons.

Brands like The North Face are shedding light on the practice of renewing and reconstructing garments with materials sourced from discarded clothing, while popular U.K. retailer Marks & Spencer announced the return of its Shwopping program, a platform for used clothing donation and recycling, after months of dormancy due to Covid concerns. Garments that are deemed unsuitable for resale due to damage are deconstructed for other uses, like filler for mattresses.