Mission Founded in 2009, Reformation was created because of founder Yael Aflalo’s desire to make a difference. After a particularly eye opening trip to a factory in China where she started to see the detrimental effects the fashion industry was having on the environment, Aflalo set out to create a company that would change the way fashion companies thought about sustainability. She says, “All these dresses I was making…they were all made out of fossil fuels”. “I started to make the connection: This is me, I’m making clothes and I’m a big part of this…I felt I actually needed to go and create a company that solves this problem, even for purely selfish reasons that I want to buy a dress and I don’t want to feel bad about it”.
The fashion industry is “…the third most polluting industry in the world. Global production of textiles consumes 1 trillion gallons of water, 33 trillion gallons of oil, and 20 billion pounds of chemicals annually” . “Every year, around eighty billion garments are produced worldwide, and they leave an enormous environmental footprint” . Reformation aims to start a movement to decrease the industry’s carbon footprint. “We make killer clothes that don’t kill the environment,” it proclaims on its website. How does it do this?
Materials Approximately 65% of Reformation’s collection is made from eco-fabrics (developed in-house), 20% from re-purposed vintage clothing, and 15% from dead stock fabrics (extra material other designers would throw away). This procurement strategy has a direct impact on the environment: “…while the average t-shirt sold by a fast fashion competitor might take about 200 gallons of water to product, Reformation’s takes only six…” .
Reformation employs a model of low inventory and fast speed to market. The company only produces in batches of 200 units and launches new product on its website every week. With the goal of selling out of product each week, this strategy minimizes Reformation’s carbon footprint.
Production Approximately 70% of Reformation’s collection is produced in a company-owned factory in L.A. and the rest is produced in another factory a couple miles away. Reformation’s factory takes sustainability seriously: “It gets all of its energy from renewable resources, so it’s off the grid. We do different things across the board, from not using plastic to using recycled material to using recycled packaging products or not use packaging at all, not using harmful soaps and dyes, all that kind of stuff” .
Owning the supply chain allows Reformation to manage its quality and it gives the company the flexibility to respond to trends in the market.
Product Sustainability is what makes Reformation unique, the product is what has made it successful. “ ‘There are sustainable fashion brands, but they’re not fashionable. That’s really the issue,’ she (Aflalo) says” . “We always go product first. I think a lot of the problems that sustainable brands have had is that they always go sustainability first and maybe the product is not as important. I don’t think people buy things because they’re sustainable. People buy things because they’re a great product…” .
With a cult following from “it” celebrities like Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Alexa Chung and Karlie Kloss (she is even a part owner!), Reformation has made Eco “cool.”
Distribution Reformation operates a website and a handful of brick and mortar stores. “On average, e-commerce uses about 30% less energy than traditional retail…In our NYC and LA stores, we lessen our environmental footprint by installing energy-efficient fixtures, using recycled hangers and reusable tote bags, limiting our inventories and waste, and cleaning with non-toxic, biodegradable products” .
Results “The company’s revenue in 2014 was $25 million, and that number is expected to double or triple by the end of 2015, Aflalo says” . Reformation’s success can be attributed to an effective alignment between its brand mission and its operating model. Reformation’s mission “to make killer clothes that don’t kill the environment,” is supported by every aspect of its supply chain. Each step in the chain is owned and managed by Aflalo, giving Reformation the flexibility and leverage to make responsible and sustainable decisions. This synergy between the operating and business models has allowed Reformation to create something truly special – it has made being eco-friendly “fashionable.”