While big apparel brands ramp up production of a slew of fashions to gear up for the holiday season, Zady, the e-commerce curator of sustainably made womenswear, menswear and accessories, is set to launch its own collection of ethical styles for the holidays — with one slight difference: It will only sell one item.
In the spirit of slow fashion, the New York-based startup plans to release items from its first collection one-at-a-time in the coming months. The initial private label piece, which will become available on their site in the coming weeks, is a knit wool sweater that was entirely designed and manufactured in the United States.
Zady prides itself in offering high-quality clothes and home goods that are made to last and provide an alternative to the world of disposable, fast fashion. Its new Essential Collection is an extension of that endeavor.
Self-described as the “Whole Foods of fashion,” Zady has built an online destination that does more than simply sell local, organic and ethically made products — it espouses conscious living and engages consumers in each product’s journey from farm to closet.
“Whole Foods is massively successful because there’s a consumer who is awakening,” said Maxine Bédat, Zady’s co-founder. “The conversation is changing. Whole Foods pushed organic food into the forefront, and now Walmart carries organic food. We’re reaching out to a community of people who want to buy beautiful products and feel good about it.”
Buyers of the new Essential Collection sweater have much to feel good about: The knit is made with natural fibers and low impact dyes, and it's made by manufacturers who treat their employees well.
Another value that shoppers can revel in with Zady’s new collection is that all products are completely made in the U.S. The wool for the sweater, for example, was grown in Shaniko, Oregon, treated in Jamestown, South Carolina, dyed in Philadelphia, and manufactured in Southern California.
Making a garment that’s entirely made in America is no small feat. Fifty years ago, about 95 percent of apparel worn in the United States was made domestically – but today that number is closer to 2 percent. Supporting the domestic economy is important to Zady, though the company also sees the environmental value of making its new collection at home.
Environmental standards are much higher in the U.S. than in unregulated countries, where the vast majority of garments are made. By choosing to make all products in its collection in the U.S., one product at a time, Zady is able to build relationships with people across its supply chain — from farmers to knitters — and vouch for its high standards.
“It's not easy to vet a supply chain, but it's certainly easier when what you produce is made domestically,” said Soraya Darabi, Zady co-founder. “In the case of our knit, we looked far and wide for a ranch that treats its sheep very well, and for owners…who are incredibly connected to the Earth.”
“Once our locations were selected for the sheering, washing, dyeing, spinning and constructing [of the knit], we made a point to visit each location. From Imperial Stock Ranch in Oregon to G.J. Littlewood Dye House in Pennsylvania, we've met the owners of each factory and spoken to them at length about our mission, which aligns with their own.”
Besides its focus on sustainable fashion, what sets Zady apart from other e-commerce retailers is its focus on the people — and stories — behind each garment and accessory on its site. All products sold on Zady’s site are accompanied with words and images that tell the story of the product’s making and makers.
The company will use storytelling to engage consumers with its new collection, too. Starting with its sweater, Zady will showcase videos that unwrap the complicated supply chain story and give consumers an insight into the making of the garment. A behind-the-scenes look of the people, the “survivors” as Bédat puts it, who made the collection possible every step of the way is now available on their site.
With those human stories in mind, consumers might view their Zady sweater in a new light — and perhaps think twice before ditching it next year for the season’s newest trends.
Image credit: Zady via Facebook
Nayelli is the Founder & CEO of CreatorsCircle, a resource hub that connects diverse youth with opportunities to create a life of purpose and impact. A trained journalist with an MBA, she also keeps the pulse on sustainable business and social impact trends and has covered these topics for a variety of publications over the past 15 years. She’s a systems thinker who loves to learn, share knowledge and help others connect the dots.