- For the past decade, fashion brand Reformation has aimed to redefine sustainability by building a company with eco-friendly principles at its core.
- Business Insider talked with Kathleen Talbot, Reformation’s vice president of operations and sustainability, to learn more about how the "cool girl" brand maintains its sustainable edge.
- Fast-fashion brands like Forever 21 and H&M continue to take heat for wasteful practices, including in a 2018 report that found H&M had an estimated $4.3 billion worth of unsold inventory.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In 2009, Reformation hit the scene not by using sustainability in a marketing campaign like some competitors, but instead by incorporating it as a core tenet of the company.
As Reformation took off, drawing in fans like Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Karlie Kloss, the company proved that sustainability could not only be cool, but also good for business. Reformation’s estimated revenue in 2017 was more than $100 million, and it raised a $25 million Series B funding round in December of the same year.
While traditional fast-fashion players like Forever 21 and H&M continue to receive criticism for acting as a catalyst to the 26 billion pounds of textiles that end up in landfill each year, Reformation has looked for ways to turn the process on its head. Part of the company’s success has been in using a quick production process to make changes that prevent waste in real time, Kathleen Talbot, Reformation’s vice president of operations and sustainability, told Business Insider.
"We are a fast-fashion brand. That might seem like an oxymoron, but we’ve actually taken the things that are really innovative and help further sustainability from the fast-fashion model [such as] making limited collection runs and making more of something only after it performs," Talbot said.
Still, sustainable fashion comes at a cost to the consumer, and Reformation’s price point is significantly higher than its peers. While a shopper can snag a stylish dress at H&M for as low as $9, Reformation dresses range between $98 and $248.
We took a look at how Reformation has become a leader in sustainability, all while maintaining its cult-like following:
While Reformation does most of its business online — an estimated 80% of its revenue comes from e-commerce — the brand has worked to ensure its physical stores are as eco-friendly as possible.
Bethany Biron/Business Insider
Reformation starting as an online-only direct-to-consumer brand. Currently, its headquarters and Los Angeles store locations are green business certified.
Reformation has 14 physical retail store locations, which expanded from its first locations in Los Angeles and New York City to include shops in Miami, Austin, Boston, and Washington, DC, among others.
Melia Robinson/Business Insider
Additional locations are slated to open in Chicago and Toronto in the coming years. Reformation incorporates features like LED fixtures, recycled fabric insulation, and secondhand furniture into its stores.
Reformation offers public tours of its sustainable Los Angeles factory on the first Friday of every month. It also works with a variety of sustainable factory partners in the US, according to Talbot.
"We want to understand what our impact is as a brand and our products, everything from materials to manufacturing, packaging to garment care, and ultimately to what customers do with it when they’re done wearing it," Talbot told Business Insider. "Within each of those life cycle stages, there’s tremendous impact and there’s also tremendous opportunity to make a difference."
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