Label to Watch: Reformation

Reformation is a sustainable label from Los Angeles, with a focus on transparent and eco-friendly fashion

“Making the world a better place, one dress at a time” says Yael Aflalo, founder of the label Reformation, in a video interview and smiles gently. While I engage in my research on the sustainable label based in Los Angeles, my thoughts go back and forth between “This is too good to be true” and “Why hasn’t anyone done this before?”. In fact, I think it “doing” is the key in this case. In 2009 Yael was at a turning point in her life. She had worked in fashion for years, especially for other brands and now she finally wanted to make a start on her own label. Shortly after a business trip to China she met a woman at a dinner party, who pelted her with questions.

Whether she was aware under which conditions people had to work there in the factories. Whether she could square that with her conscience? Admittedly, not the most pleasant kind of small talk, yet with all the more consequences. The morning after it was certain: if she would make it on her own, that she’d do it right and ideally by distinguishing from the current market situation. In the matter of environmental pollution the fashion industry takes the third place. When it comes to water consumption it even comes in second (see also our most recent article about Mustafah Abdulaziz and his project called “Water”).

So the optimization started with the conditions of production: the clothes that are manufactured for Reformation come from the very first sustainable sewing factory of the United States, based in Los Angeles. The material are produced on small quantities there, which is why unnecessary deposit costs are omitted and the demand is kept low, artificially – they only produce was is actually used. Alternatively they use materials that are considered “residues” by other producers. Fortunately the end result doesn’t look like that at all. The designs are inspired by the 70’s, they celebrate the female figure and focus on a specific target group: the consciously consuming young woman.

Ever since the beginning the work with Creative Director Brianna Lance, who embodies the style of the aforementioned era, like no other. Eco Chic doesn’t have to resemble the radically green aesthetic of the Flower Power era – that is the pronounced credo of Reformation. Their timely approach is obvious when you look at their humourous newsletter. “Don’t Spill”, “You Can Do This” or “Low Expectations” – these are the subject lines that always capture my attention – despite the overflowing mailbox. Apparently marketing and design are on point. However the Californian label does not have to hide behind the ecological facts: “We make killer clothes that don’t kill the environment” is their likeable claim.

©Thereformation.com

The so called “RefScale methodology“, which was developed by a scientific research team is at the center of their mission. It measures the CO2 output as well as the waste quotients for each and every product and lists the information in their webshop, for full transparency. At the same time, Clean Agency assisted of as a third party, to ensure the reliability of the applied system.

When it comes to processing they make sure that as little waste as possible is produced and that the suppliers are located in the surrounding area – most of their goods are produced in their own premises anyway. They also want the ablutions of the material to be ecological and they consider it important to work with renewable energies.

The margins are charges fairly, as they cut the middleman. There are some physical shops in New York and LA, however online retail is still their main point. In light of all this disclosure, it is no secret to them, that these are first steps of an entire process, that is far from over. “We do our very best” it resonates and lends credence to their endeavor.  And to close the circle of a sustainable approach towards the future of fashion, the “RefRecycling” project was brought to life. There you are able to send in everything you don’t wear any longer.

Until now, they have achieved a lot (and did I mention yet, that 75% of the employees are female?). Strategically the expansion of their business is up next: from November 7 until mid-December, a pop up shop will open in London. There you can try on clothes and buy them online per iPad, without any mailing costs.

And for the rest of the world a 21-piece capsule collection will be available today, November 11. It comprises eleven new designs and three classics, including the famous floor length dresses with side lacing, mini dresses for the evening (flower print and in unicolour) and blouses, that pair particularly well with denim jeans. Everything os available in “Eco Silk”, “Eco Rib” and “Eco velvet” – self explanatory. What a joy to see that #Jointhereformation is only a click away.

The hard facts on the topic “The impact of fashion” can be read here. Several details relating “Sustainable Practice” can be found here. An exciting lecture by Yael can be found here.

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Julia co-founded one of the first fashion blogs in Germany in 2007 and became a freelance consultant for digital strategies after publishing her first book in 2010. After an eventful four years with Condé Nast working mainly in the digital department of Vogue Germany, she decided to launch her own online magazine with her dream partner, Veronika Heilbrunner. She is based in Berlin and loves to read books.