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KEY POINTS

  • US holiday retail sales are expected to rise 4% year over year to $720 billion.
  • Sustainability is growing in importance as millennials and Gen Zers enter their prime spending years.
  • From sustainable new fibers to circularity, repurposing and recycling, the changes to product offerings new and old apparel brands are making are set to change fashion for good. Below are some examples of what leading companies are doing to up their sustainability game.

This holiday season, Coresight Research is expecting retail sales to increase 4% year over year, slower than last year’s 5.3% growth, but still strong growth. According to Prosper Insights & Analytics, the most sought-after gifts this season are gift cards, followed closely by clothing and clothing accessories.

  • Sustainability is growing in importance as millennials and Gen Zers enter their prime spending years. From sustainable new fibers to circularity, repurposing and recycling, the changes to product offerings new and old apparel brands are making are set to change fashion for good. Below are some examples of what leading companies are doing to up their sustainability game.

Sustainable Bellwethers

Eileen Fisher, Patagonia and REI are always top of mind when thinking about sustainability. This year, Eileen Fisher released a Good Gifts Guideof 50 items with sustainability features, including recycled cashmere, organic cotton and handknit Peruvian alpaca. The handknit Peruvian scarf below is a fair trade gift from the Eileen Fisher’s “Love, Peru” project that pays workers higher wages and invests in local communities; it is a Responsible by Design garment that meets the company’s highest standard for environmental or social impact. And its pink and warm.

Patagonia is the go-to source for colorful puffer jackets and outerwear that lasts. For Patagonia, making high-quality merchandise that lasts for years is one of the most responsible things the company can do. The company’s mission statement, to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” has inspired many of today’s entrepreneurs in the fashion industry and beyond. In addition to fair trade certified and recycled cashmere products, the company has a “Worn Wear” program, which lets customers trade in used Patagonia products for merchandise or gift cards. Extending apparel use by nine months can reduce the product’s carbon, water and waste footprints by 20-30%, according to UK-based WRAP. If pre-worn apparel isn’t your gifting style, Patagonia’s Capilene Air line of baselayer apparel is 51% responsibly sourced merino wool and 49% recycled polyester (hoodie pictured below). 

REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) was founded in 1938 and is the largest consumer cooperative in the US today. Passionate about the outdoors, reducing its environmental footprint is fundamental to REI’s ethos. While there’s plenty of potential gifting merchandise for all sorts of outdoor activities, a gift of classes is an experience to remember. REI will offer 105 different classes that take place within 100 miles of New York City, including mountain biking in Westchester (free), outdoor photography ($69 for members, $89 for non-members) and a Catskills hike and wine tour ($75 for members, $95 for non-members).

A Variation of the Gift That Keeps Giving

ForDays.com offers 100% organic cotton tee shirts in a variety of styles and colors for men and women with an added twist: If you want a new tee for any reason within a year, you can refresh it for $8 and return the old one in a prepaid envelop. All returned product is recycled: sorted, sanitized, broken down and blended into fresh new yarn. A 70/30 blend of new and recycled yarn is durable, sustainable and the basis for new For Days products.  Committed to eliminating closet clutter and landfill waste, For Days even accepts non-For Days clothing for points that can be used for credit. An annual membership costs $38 for one tee with unlimited refreshes for $8 per tee shirt. For three tees, the annual membership is $108.

A Sneaker Fit for a Duchess

For a great pair of sneakers, sustainability consultant Natiliya Makulova suggests VEJA, French born and made in Brazil, VEJA combines fair trade, ecology, economic development and social initiatives. The company uses organic or recycled fairly traded cotton for the canvas of the shoes, wild and fairly traded rubber for the soles. Recycled plastic bottles are also used to create technological fabrics. Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, chose the V-10 Leather style (below) on a recent outing, bringing added attention to the brand.

Made in Brooklyn for You

Thursday Finest makes personalized and custom fit sweaters, socks, beanies, balaclavas, scarves and knit ties. Using 3D-knitting robots, all products are made sustainably and on demand. Thursday Finest is part of the NY Fashion Tech Lab community. (Coresight Research CEO Deborah Weinswig and Senior Analyst Marie Driscoll are advisors to the NY Fashion Tech Lab.) Co-founder Veronika Harbick at ReMode, an event for disruptive and sustainable fashion, explained that Thursday Finest is pioneering new best practices and standards for how to design and build for circularity. From the yarns used to reengineering products for better consumer value and longer lifecycles to automated on-demand manufacturing, they have re-imaged the entire fashion production and lifecycle to create a win-win-win for consumers, business and the environment.

All products are made in the US by humans and 3D-knitting robots using yarns from a mill that uses hydro and solar power. The company primarily uses 100% merino wool because it is renewable and biodegradable. The company’s 3D-manufacturing process produces zero waste, cutting yarn use 20-30% compared to cut and sew knitwear.

Socks are a Thursday Finest best seller and can be customized via choice of color and comment, and are contoured to your natural foot shape. The Balaclavas keep you warm and anonymous.

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