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Green Is The New Black

What does regenerative retail look like? Our top picks!

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regenerative retail green is the new black

Sustainability can be a tough sell when consumers are ill-informed and/or apathetic. Systemic cracks in the current retail model, the rise of e-commerce and its consequent environmental impact, alongside shifts in mindsets, are driving a need for regenerative retail models and making sustainability more attractive than ever. 

What does “regenerative retail” mean—why do we need to go beyond sustainability?

Ever heard of regenerative solutions? Simply put, being sustainable and eco-friendly means not doing harm or reaching net-zero carbon emissions, while regeneration is going beyond to restore and replenish the environment and fix the damage that has occurred. Regenerative retail is about creating better conditions for the environment and for the community. It’s time to step up and heal the damage that’s already been done!

What’s driving the age of regeneration? 

Ethical awareness: The last decade has been defined by a growing ethical consciousness among consumers. Pew Research Center data published in 2019 shows that 67% of the global population believe climate change to be a major threat to their nation, compared to 56% in 2013.

Long-term commitment and community: the belief that companies’ operations shouldn’t be geared towards short-term profits, but long-term value creation for all their stakeholders including employees, customers, suppliers, communities and society at large, is gaining popularity.

What to look out for as regenerative consumers: 

Pro-planet Packaging: The continued growth of e-commerce means there is a pressing need for sustainable packaging across sectors. Currently, the infrastructure for compostable packaging is sparse. Packaging either has to be sent to an industrial composting centre or put in a backyard compost bin, and even then compostable bioplastic doesn’t break down very easily or quickly; if it does, it can leave plastic microparticles behind (that are now being found in human bodies!) Seeking alternatives, material innovations and strategies have been enhancing recyclability for a future of circular, pro-planet packaging. How are the brands you buy from encouraging low-carbon purchases and minimising packaging?

Eco-education: Are retailers offering you education/assistance on what to do with the packaging and products at the end of their life and ways to extend it?

Collaboration: How are the companies collaborating with their competitors to help deliver sustainability? How are they using technology to enable regenerative e-commerce?

Proof of Impact: As environmental and social impact becomes a metric by which retailers are judged, they need to offer transparency and traceability, and back up sustainability claims with evidence. Retailers need to calculate and share their impact with consumers and invest in technology that allows consumers access to end-to-end transparency across the supply chain.

And now, onto some of our favourite venture capitals (investments/funding provided by start-ups) and eco-innovations…

FASHION & MATERIAL

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A post shared by PANGAIA (@pangaia)

PANGAIA

You’ve no doubt seen the direct-to-consumer brand PANGAIA all over your social media feeds. The influencer-favourite label is known for its focus on sustainable design and its covetable, comfy array of sweatpants, hoodies, T-shirts, and other wardrobe staples. PANGAIA also utilizes bio-based recycled fibres and fabrics made from waste like recycled plastic bottles, combined with natural botanical dyes to produce its collections.

PANGAIA is a materials science company on a mission to save our environment. It’s bringing breakthrough textile innovations and patents into the world through everyday lifestyle products, by driving these solutions further and making technologies and materials available to companies across different industries (the latest: superfoods). Its vibrant matching sweater and sweatpants combos are an Instagram-hit, leading them to sell out almost immediately after they land on the brand’s website.

 

Reuben Oliver

Reuben Oliver’s avant-garde unisex brand is one to watch. The label was created with the intention of promoting transparency in the value chain and promoting the source of sustainable manufacturing. With knitwear, Peru has been the centre for the source of premium cotton fibres and organic fabrics. Reuben Oliver seeks to promote the manufacturing of all organic clothing while highlighting the source of these sustainable fibres, Peru. Reuben Oliver highlights the uniqueness of Peruvian craftsmanship, textiles and aesthetics. In addition, the design of the collections often includes the collaboration of various Peruvian artists. A plethora of neutral-hued knitwear sets and separates with sharp attentiveness to detail yields in everyday wear that is anything but basic.

Reuben Oliver provides work to Peruvian artists collaborating with them and enhancing their talents, strengthening the community. This initiative is meant to draw awareness to where the clothing comes from and celebrate the culture from where it stems while giving another channel for artists to develop and grow their audience. The brand is also partnering with a record label (O-ranch) out of Peru in the same vein and trying to unify the American and Peruvian markets and “give back” by promoting the country from where so many clothing companies source from.

 

CURATORS & CONNECTORS

Fashion For Good

The Good Fashion Fund (GFF) is the first investment fund focused solely on driving the implementation of innovative solutions in the fashion industry. Currently, apparel supply chains are plagued by negative environmental and social impacts. While sustainable solutions exist today, there is a lack of capital available to scale these technologies within the supply chain. The Fund was created to address this gap: connecting the most promising technologies to the industry, to collaboratively tackle its challenges. Fashion For Good invests in the adoption of high impact and disruptive technologies and circular innovations in the textile and apparel production industry in Asia (India, Bangladesh, Vietnam).

For true Good Fashion, and a circular supply chain, to exist, all elements, from design to end-of-use, must be reconsidered and for this to happen, and considering the enormity of the challenge, collaboration is required. Good Fashion is not fashion that simply looks good or is mostly good; it is good in five important ways:

Good Materials — safe, healthy and designed for reuse and recycling
Good Economy — growing, circular, shared and benefiting everyone
Good Energy — renewable and clean
Good Water — clean and available to all
Good Lives — living and working conditions that are just, safe and dignified

 

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A post shared by Faire (@faire_wholesale)

Faire

Seeking ethical alternatives to Amazon? Look no further! Faire is an independent community of retailers and brands, a marketplace that helps them all thrive outside of Amazon’s suffocating business and labour models. Founded in 2017 by Square alums, Faire’s wholesale marketplace helps 350,000 boutiques and independent retailers stock their shelves with curated products from 60,000 brands without the hassle of trade shows and paperwork.

Now more than ever, consumers are choosing to support local shops over big-box chains. There are millions of thriving small businesses in North America and Europe alone, who collectively represent a $2T market. With this global community and the power of technology, Faire is helping fuel the growth of entrepreneurs everywhere. It tries to level the playing field by eliminating inventory risk by allowing vendors to see if a product resonates with customers before placing a big order, and providing access to capital. For brands, the platform offers sales, marketing, and analytics services that support their growing businesses.

 

Handprint

Handprint is integrating sustainability through e-commerce, by connecting businesses with regenerative projects doing work on the ground. They are working with businesses of all sizes to automate regenerative commitments into business operations and guarantee credibility. By providing real-time reporting on how investments are regenerating the planet, businesses can truly grow with the planet, rather than at its expense.

Handprint provides pre-financing so that their impact partners start new regenerative projects from scratch, not just resell existing ones. With Handprint, retailers just don’t have to tell their consumers about the great things they do for the planet – they can show them using images, stories, and raw data.

 

 

The Fascination

This one is a curated one-stop shop for all our favourite direct-to-consumer brands. As direct-to-consumer brands have proliferated over the last decade, consumers have had to shop across multiple sites to buy clothes, personal care products, food, and home goods. The Fascination has built direct relationships with emerging and established brands—we love the way they curate brands by their ‘science and soul,’ ensuring each meets standards for high quality and purpose-driven values, and help consumers cut through the clutter to discover and buy high-quality, purpose-driven brands and products.

In 2021, with $1 million in seed funding, The Fascination launched its one-stop-shop for people to buy products from more than 250 DTC brands (across home, lifestyle and wellness), including Allbirds, Lalo, and Brightland. The site offers shopping guides and product reviews and spotlights brands from underrepresented founders.

Getting started

The journey towards being a more conscious fashion consumer is an ongoing one. Here are some questions that can guide you toward more regenerative practices/purchases. Take this first step with us today, and then the key is consistency:

1. What is it made from? What’s the impact of the material? Check out our ultimate guide to sustainable fabrics here.

2. Where was it produced? Was it outsourced to less developing countries with poor wages and working conditions?

3. Are there any certifications or standards? How transparent is the brand?

 

FEATURED IMAGE: via Pangaia | IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Pangaia’s “FLWRDWN” down-fill material, pictured, is made using a combination of wildflowers, a biopolymer and aerogel. 

 

 

 

 

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