At an event to launch the Tencel Earth Month campaign, “From Trees, For Trees,” guests didn’t receive the swag bags full of disposable goodies that are common at industry gatherings. Instead, every guest, from mill workers to eco-fashion influencers, to members of the media, was given a certificate indicating that a tree was planted in their name by the non-profit One Tree Planted.
If the rest of April goes how Lenzing and its retail partners anticipate, thousands more trees will be added to that total.
Lenzing’s Tencel brand is partnering with BN3TH, Blu Salt, Triarchy Denim, Boyish Jeans, Bearaby, Hoot, and Malouf for this year’s Earth Month campaign. For every purchase of a Tencel lyocell or modal product sold through the retail partners’ websites during the month of April, Tencel will donate a tree. This year’s campaign will support the replanting of trees in the California forests devastated by last year’s wildfires, which burned more than 876,000 acres of forest. Additionally, consumers can like and share Earth Month-related posts on the brand partners’ Instagram channels to increase donations. For every 50 likes or 10 shares a post receives, Tencel will plant an additional tree.
“Tencel really is the poster child for circularity and sustainability,” said Jordan Nodarse, creative director of Boyish Jeans. “I went to the company’s factory in Austria, and it’s eye-opening to see manufacturing without waste.” Nodarse went on to say that he’s proud Boyish Jeans can be part of a campaign that produces real results, especially in an era where “greenwashing” is a popular corporate hobby. “Everyone in fashion is taking shortcuts so they don’t have to do the work,” Nodarse said. “It’s hard for customers to know who to trust.”
Adam Taubenfligel, creative director for Triarchy Denim, said it’s becoming more difficult every year for fashion companies to claim sustainable practices without providing proof. In turn, consumers are turning towards companies like those partnering with Tencel to satisfy their craving for sustainable goods. “People are starting to come to us organically or via influencer posts, so the message is spreading and the appetite for sustainability growing,” Taubenfligel said. He hopes this taste for sustainability drives fast-fashion companies and their peers to be more ambitious with their sustainability goals. “Whether the interest is inherent to a company’s core values, or if it’s fear of missing out, it doesn’t matter if sustainable practices are growing,” Taubenfligel said.
Retail partners at the event agreed: sustainable manufacturers aren’t necessarily an outlier, but just way ahead of the curve. “People are changing, and I think it’s really obvious,” said Nora Shaughnessy, product director at performance underwear company BN3TH Apparel. “You’re going to get questioned on transparency and traceability. It’s changing and it’s forcing manufacturers to change.”
According to Shaughnessy, BN3TH’s customers are sporty, outdoors enthusiasts who love spending whole days out in nature. That, she said, makes it easier to communicate the import of their sustainable sourcing to the consumer. Shaughnessy also acknowledged that there’s a budgetary question for brands and end consumers when talking about sustainability. “It’s so tricky,” Shaughnessy said.” There is a price point threshold.” Brands might be unwilling to take on the additional costs tied to ethically-manufactured fibers, but Shaughnessy urges other apparel companies not to settle for questionable materials—or pass the entire cost onto consumers. “What we have done is kind of split that burden with the customer, and we’re willing to pay more for sustainable products to make it happen,” Shaughnessy said. “We know it’s worth it.”