This is where your next pair of underwear needs to come from.
When you write for a website like TreeHugger, you see a lot of ethical fashion startups come and go over the years. All of them start with admirable dreams and great hopes of success, but sadly, not as many survive the rigors of the real world.
That is why it's so heartening to see the tremendous growth of Pact, an organic cotton basics company that first appeared on TreeHugger back in 2011, selling tanks, tees, and socks. Since then, the Boulder, Colorado-based retailer has changed hands and grown twenty-fold. It boasts an ever-expanding line of women's dresses, sweatshirts, and cotton sports bras, as well as baby and toddler clothes, men's t-shirts, underwear, pyjamas, and more.What is this company's secret to success in such a tough market? CEO Brendan Synnott put it succinctly in an email to TreeHugger: "We make ridiculously comfortable basics for the whole family. Everyone needs them."
In a world where consumers are increasingly concerned about "who made my clothes" (thanks to Fashion Revolution to kickstarting that campaign in the months following the Rana Plaza garment factory disaster), a good product comes with a good back story. Or, as Synnott said, "Millennials demand brands with social causes embedded into the product offering, authentic reasons for being, and at a value that is affordable." Pact ticks all the boxes.
The fabric is almost entirely organic cotton, except where a bit of synthetic elastane is required for optimal fit and feel. Even items like sports bras, which are typically made from 100 percent synthetic material, are made from cotton, which gives them a wonderful soft feeling. The company is deeply committed to using only organic, GOTS-certified cotton:
"[It] uses up to 95 percent less water than conventional cotton during the wash phase and doesn’t contain the harsh chemicals, bleaches or dyes that conventional cotton uses. Additionally, conventional cotton often requires the use of chemical-laden pesticides that increases the debt burden on the farmer and leaches into the land and water."
Some of the items are certified Fair Trade, but not all. Pact explains that this is because "Fair Trade Certification isn’t applicable in certain countries that already have union and wage protection in place for workers." Regardless, all production is guaranteed to be free from child labor and sweatshop conditions.
Among Pact's other eco-minded efforts is a partnership with Give Back Box, a program that lets you fill a box with unwanted clothing and ship it back for distribution where needed. You can fill the same box in which your Pact order arrived or use another one, and it does not have to be Pact-brand clothing that you send. A pre-paid shipping label can be printed online.
What really keeps me coming back, though, is the fact that the clothing is simple, practical, affordable, and, like Synnott said, ridiculously comfortable. Since buying my first pair of Pact underwear a few years ago, I have stocked up on ten pairs because they're the best I've ever owned. I get compliments on the casual pocket dress, and the slouchy striped sweatshirt is a personal favourite.
So the next time you're looking to buy wardrobe basics, skip the department store deals and check out Pact. There's no reason why your underwear and long johns can't be as ethically made as other, more prominent parts of your wardrobe.