Episode 130 | OUTERKNOWN + SMASHING THE FORMULA
In episode 130, Kestrel welcomes Shelly Gottschamer, the head of sustainability and supply chain at Outerknown, to the show. A sustainable menswear brand co-founded by 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater + designer John Moore, Outerknown believes in building products by making every decision with the highest regard for the environment and the people they work with.
"We're in an environmental crisis that we cannot ignore, so you have to kind of take that approach to business, and do what you can in business to sort of change that paradigm - and that's a piece of smash the formula. We really want to do things differently and inspire others by proving the case that you can do this."
- Shelly Gottschamer, Head of Sustainability + Supply Chain at Outerknown
In this episode, Shelly shares more on her personal journey, how she's had an interest in fashion since she was a young child, and the amount she learned about sustainability working with Levi's in the past.
She also shares details on Outerknown's approach to fabric selection, as well as their multilayered system to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the humans in their supply chain.
Additionally, Shelly explains in detail the ways that Outerknown is pushing the needle to take transparency + circularity to the next level.
The below thoughts, ideas + organizations were brought up in this chat:
- Outerknown's Preferred Fiber Strategy: organic, recycled, regenerated.
- "Up to 90% of our raw materials fall within that preferred fibers, and the last 10% is really due to minimums as an emerging brand."
- "I feel as a sustainable brand, unless you know your inputs, you can't really say you're a sustainable brand because your raw materials are on average two thirds of your environmental impact."
- Outerknown is a Bluesign Partner
- "We really need to change the way that we think about apparel. The take-make-use cycle needs to be turned into the reuse-reduce cycle, and figuring out how to take those inputs and put them back into a working system is super important and there's a lot of work to do there."
- Evrnu, fiber technology that is working to transform textile waste into pristine new fiber
- Outerknown has partnered with Bard University's Sustainability MBA program, where they are working to develop a Circularity Roadmap For Apparel Brands, which will be open source
- Outerknown has also joined the Ellen MacArthur Fiber Initiative, which is a three year plan to really figure out which levers need to be pulled to move toward a circular economy
- In The Copenhagen Fashion Summit's 2018 Pulse Of The Fashion Industry Report, Outerknown published their first three years sustainability strategy as open source (can be found on page 30 of the report)
- "I think that transparency is becoming a trend, and I think it's a good one."
- Outerknown lists all of their suppliers on their website here >
- Outerknown is a Fair Labor Association accredited brand
- Outerknown uses the Better Work Vietnam program (an ILO program)
- Outerknown's buttons are made in collaboration with Oceanworks out of recycled ocean plastics
Since this episode was recorded, Outerknown launched their S.E.A. Jeans (Social Environmental Accountability). In the S.E.A. Jeans, Outerknown is using 100% organic cotton from two of the best mills in the world (Candiani & Isko), and their intention is to be fully transparent throughout the supply chain.
They are also working with the world’s cleanest denim factory – Saitex. With the S.E.A. Jeans, there's an elevated bonus - they come with a lifetime guarantee: Outerknown will repair or replace damaged jeans for no charge, and will also take in old pairs to upcycle down the line.
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