Horny Toad Activewear: Every Spring Collection is An Adventure


All photos: Horny Toad (Sully jacket)

Horny Toad is a Californian based outdoor lifestyle clothing company, with an often whimsical edge to their marketing. Check out the video (after the fold) of a typical day at work for the Toadsters. The company buys wind energy supports work opportunities for those with disabilities, and much more besides. In June 2008, they acquired the assets of Nau, when that company hit the onset of the global financial crisis and ran out of financing.

We'd read that for Spring 2010 99% of the Horny Toad range will use some form of environmentally preferred material, and that 73% of the line is made with organic cotton. We thought maybe the relationship with Nau had provided Horny Toad with access to, or incentive to use, more eco-based materials? Not so, according to Kate Larramendy Design Director at Horny Toad."Prior to the family relationship with Nau, Horny Toad was on the path to creating apparel in a sustainable manner. After adopting our sister company, Nau we have not had any direct incentive to grow our process towards sustainability. However, it certainly accelerated our awareness to adopt more sustainable practices. Call it - friendly sibling rivalry," responded Kate.

TreeHugger: Has the use of such materials, such as premium product like organic cotton affecting the product pricing of the line?

Kate Larramendy: Certainly, sustainably grown fibers still retain a premium price in the marketplace but we do our best to price for success. A great product at a fair price. A lot of eco-friendly fibers, including organic cotton are becoming more accessible in the marketplace. This is good for everyone.


TH: Aside from any benevolent gestures, what are the direct business benefits of choosing to adopt so much eco-material in the collection?

KL: For us, we feel like it is the right thing to do. It is our world to take care of. The way we do business and the materials we choose to use aren't all that radical. We think it is a matter of being more conscientious and thoughtful in how we approach the product design, the process to create and our day-to-day choices.

TH: Previously Horny Toad used the Dri-pulse fabric that was a recycled polyester and organic cotton blend. Why go with the version which has wool instead the cotton? Especially in a Summer range?

KL: These Dri-pulse styles are intended to be great year-round pieces. They are go-to items that can be worn in many types of applications. Wool as a fiber has the greatest ability to be comfortable in a various temperature ranges. We think sheep got a good deal - easy care, renewable and comfortable (not to mention good looking).

TH: Tencel was introduced as an eco-alternative to rayon viscose, which produced polluting solvents as part of its production process. We noticed that Horny Toad now has four fabrics using Modal, which is essentially a version of rayon viscose.and wondered if the new Modal manufacture still releases solvents like the rayon of old?

KL: "The Modal process is a closed loop system, like that of Tencel. Our Modal is manufactured from indigenous beech wood. The pulp used is produced through one vertically integrated vendor who has control over the entire manufacturing process. This makes it possible to optimize each process step to ensure the best use of all of the substances employed, as well as the highest possible recovery rates. The process is based on solvent spinning (like Tencel). It represents the greatest accomplishment in cellulose fiber technology because of its closed loop production method."

So to the 2010 Spring collection itself. There are 18 fabrics with some form of green story, be it organic cotton, recycled polyester, merino wool, Tencel or Modal and various blends thereof.

For example, the men's Carew shirt seen above is a fine 2 ply 100% organic cotton cloth, known as flyply.

Whereas the women's dress the Lylee is fashioned from Samba, which is 48% Tencel, 48% organic cotton and 4% spandex.

And the women's Sully jacket (pictured at the top of this post) is a100% organic cotton twill, with a mini herringbone texture.

Horny Toad's marketing tagline is "every day is an adventure." Albeit more the type of adventure that don't need expensive equipment, and risk to life and limb. Their clothing is more for flinging frisbees, than swinging an ice axe, more beach-combing than backcountry skiing. More fun than function. But clothes that also look the part, for an active lifestyle.

We remember seeing an advert somewhere that suggested, in Horny Toad's typical fun loving tone, that if after three wearings a Horny Toad garment had not elicited compliments, the owner could return it for a refund. Do many customers take up the offer?

Tami Snow of Horny Toad Marketing & Communications answers.
We really don't have many customers taking us up on this guarantee because we take most everything back if the consumer isn't happy. We do have customers mention the guarantee on the hangtag. They love the language and the message. Many consumers re-enforce this guarantee and tell us their stories about getting compliments within the first 3+ wearings.

TH: What does Horny Toad do with garment returns from this campaign or similar?

TS: We give returns or damaged goods to various organizations. It depends where the returns are located because we prefer not to ship them all over but to donate them locally. In most cases we try to give locally i.e., the Transition Projects in Portland, OR or the Transitions House or Casa Esperanza in Santa Barbara CA. Last year with all the fires in Santa Barbara we gave direct to fire victims (some damaged items but mostly first quality that we already had in our warehouse in Santa Barbara). Salvation Army and Goodwill are recipients in the Chicagoland area. (Where our Pick and Pack facility is located.)

TH: Share the Warmth is a Horny Toad marketing program, where customers are encouraged to tell a story about unwanted clothes that they gave to a thrift store, in exchange for a discount on new Horny Toad apparel. Have you found that some people donate clothes without taking up the discount offer?

TS: We've had the Share the Warmth program for a couple years now and have found that many people donate and don't take us up on our offer. From our perspective, it isn't about the offer but the message of 'Do the Right Thing.'

TH: is there a sense then that people often just need a nudge to 'do the right thing?'

TS: We have found that people have the best intentions but seem to need a nudge. Donating apparel is an easy thing to do and can make a significant difference (to your closet and the recipient).

:: Horny Toad
More Horny Toad
Spread the Warmth with Horny Toad's Pre-Loved Clothing Donation Program
Don't Be Shy. Make a Difference with Horny Toad's 9 in '09 Program
Horny Toad and Goodwill Share the Warmth

Tags: Charities | Clothing | Corporate Responsibility | United States

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