Although sustainable fashion has (finally) become a hot topic, it wasn’t always so stylish. Even just a few years ago, the predominant look of the conscious lines were exclusively natural tones, basic shapes and only really wearable for one season. Basically, if you wanted to forgo fast fashion, you had to forgo your sense of style too.
Yael Aflalo Starts The Reformation
However, one ex-model and entrepreneur named Yael Aflalo, founder of popular brand The Reformation, eschewed this route. As one of the early adopters of stylish ethical clothing, Ms. Aflalo got her start in vintage. After recurrent customer inquiries into the source of her products and an eye-opening business trip to China, she began researching sustainable fashion. Her answer to this issue was to create the second most sustainable clothing option by opening her online store, a direct-to-consumer e-commerce brand that now has a few brick-and-mortar locations to support its growing demand.
The Ref Scale
Founded in 2009, The Reformation runs their eco-factory in LA, meaning they have full control over how the workers are treated (aka with fair wages and working hours) and environmental processes (fabric sourcing, waste management, etc). The brand also sends out several email marketing campaigns including both traditional marketing blasts and a sustainability report that breaks down their environmental footprint. Your purchases also include a breakdown called The Ref Scale to show you the real value of your “savings” i.e. how much water, carbon dioxide and waste was saved when producing your item. If nothing else, it’s a less abrasive way of letting you know just how much of an impact the production of clothing has on the environment.
Sustainable Fast Fashion
I’d been dying to try the brand for awhile and managed to snag the exact dress I wanted on sale. The other good thing about The Reformation is that they frequently hold sales to ensure that all of the stock finds a home, avoiding the need to dispose of them in a less-than-ideal manner. Even the brand’s packaging meets the same standards by using recycled paper envelopes for delivery. The clothes are understated and cool, and while a bit more expensive than say H&M, their prices are not so outrageous that they’re out of reach – a plus for any sustainable brand trying to reach a wider audience.
The Devon Dress
The first Reformation dress I picked up was the Devon Dress, in a combination of Tencel and linen. This collared shirt dress is a mini with a removable corset belt, and the fabric is stiff enough to really hold its shape with only slight wrinkling. I love this dress but unfortunately, I bought it in the wrong size so it’s a tad big on me and due to the limited edition of each piece, the company follows a strict no return or exchange policy for sale items.
I would suggest that when making a purchase from The Reformation, either stop by one of their locations or a boutique that carries the line to try a couple of garments on for sizing, or buy it at full price so that you have the option of returning it. Although they have a size chart online, I don’t always find them to be helpful as brands vary widely in how they actually fit different body types. But it seems that once you’ve found your perfect fit, you’re good to go for all future purchases.
The Bri Dress
My second purchase, the Bri dress, was much more successful. This time I picked up one size smaller and it fit perfectly – more perfectly than any dress I think I’ve ever had. The length of the straps, the body length, the cinched waist, all of the tailoring was amazing. The Reformation does offer a petite line for the under 5’4″ set (I’ m 5’3″) but in this case the normal collection was fine. And my environmental footprint on this one consisted of saving 17.2lbs of carbon dioxide, 943.8 gal. of water, and 1.1lbs of waste.
To get an idea of just how good this is, the brand provides detailed explanations and breakdowns about the design, sustainable practices, and the impact of fashion. They also provide better washing instructions to minimize energy and water use and to maximize the lifetime of the garment. Buying a Reformation piece is probably one of the best introductions to upping the ethical factor of your wardrobe. Their selling point is in their ability to create sexy, sometimes trendy, sometimes classic pieces while being forthright about their belief in sustainability – a factor that when done badly, can really turn people off.
Personally, I genuinely love this brand. Everything from the brand story to the transparency to the clothes themselves are amazing. The only thing I’m not super sold on are some of the patterned fabrics, but then I tend to be much more simple with my colours and looks anyway. Fortunately for the minimalist, they almost always have a black and white option of every item. So if you haven’t checked out this brand yet and are looking to add a little stylish sustainability into your life, I would definitely recommend The Reformation. For a quick browse at their current selection, click here.
Have anything to add about The Reformation? Let me know in the comments!