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Reformation Injects Eco Point of View into Work-Ready Collection

Sustainable apparel brand Reformation is trying its hand at business casual, with a new collection of staples meant for gatherings around the water cooler rather than stylish soirees.

The company’s new Strictly Business line launched Monday, featuring six office-ready pieces including dresses, tops, a blazer and even a pinstripe two-piece. The ultra-tailored, suiting-inspired range sells for between $78-$248.

Like the company’s core collection, the new offerings are made from natural and sustainable materials such as linen and deadstock wool and woven fabrics. All styles are cut and sewn in Los Angeles, Reformation said in a statement.

Consumer understanding of the environmental crisis (and fashion’s critical role in addressing it) reached a fever pitch in 2019, and demand for sustainable apparel options has skyrocketed. Expanding on its line of weekend-ready peasant dresses and casual denim pieces was a natural next step for Reformation, as it looks to broaden its role in consumers’ day-to-day lives.

While the brand once counted its eco-friendly production processes and fabric choices as key differentiators from industry competitors, consideration around these issues has become table stakes for any brand looking to succeed in the modern retail climate.

In its fourth annual State of Fashion report released last fall, McKinsey & Company hailed sustainabilty as the apparel industry’s single greatest challenge—and its biggest opportunity for 2020.

The report revealed that online searches for “sustainable fashion” tripled between 2016 and 2019, and that trajectory stands to continue with each passing season. While the industry is still grappling with varied approaches to the issue—from innovative, bio-based materials to cleaner supply chains—brands have learned that consumers will vote with their wallets for those that offer the trends, prices and values they’re seeking.

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Competition is heating up, but Reformation and Everlane have managed to rise above the tangled fray of sustainably minded brands vying for the spotlight, according to brand marketing platform Traackr.

Both labels have managed to provide clear, succinct and visually appealing messaging around complicated issues like sourcing and production, and while Everlane boasted nearly 1,000 monthly social mentions in 2019 (making it the leader in the eco-conscious fashion arena overall), Reformation’s content garnered stronger engagement. The hashtags #sustainablefashion, #ethicalfashion and #slowfashion were most commonly used to drive the conversation on social platforms like Instagram.

As efforts around sustainability further crystallize in the new year, experts believe brands will need to back up talk with action in the form of science-based targets (SBTs).

More than 50 countries from across the globe have approved SBTs or commitments to address climate change, according to Nike veteran Michael Sadowski, a contributor to environmental consultancies like SustainAbility and the World Resources Institute. That’s up from just 10 about two years ago.

The targets serve to create measurable goals around specific environmental impact markers, like carbon footprint, water waste, chemical contamination and more.

In order to compete in what will become an increasingly crowded space, companies will need to move from rhetoric to real results. “We will see which companies align their investments and business decisions with their words,” he said.