Reformation’s design mission is to make effortless silhouettes that celebrate the feminine figure. The design process starts with us thinking about what we really want to wear right now. We source the most beautiful and sustainable fabrics possible to bring those designs to life quickly.
Most fashion is designed 12-18 months before it’s released, but at Ref a sketch can become a dress in about a month. We’re designing and making what you want to wear right now. We believe the perfect fit is the most important part of our clothes. We spend hours fitting on different bodies and have a meticulous approach to our fits. Our main range is fit on multiple women that are between 5′6 and 5′10. We also launched a petites collection designed for ladies 5′2 and under, an extended sizes collection going up to size 22, as well as a collection specially designed to fit women with a full C-DD cup. These capsules based on body types are just the first steps in our quest to make sure women of many shapes and sizes can wear Ref (and look damn good doing it).
Up to 2/3 of the sustainability impact of fashion happens at the raw materials stage - before the clothes have actually been made. Fiber selection also affects how you’re gonna wash the garment, and potentially recycle it one day - both important factors to consider when it comes to the environmental impact. That’s why we have Ref standards, or basically different classifications based on their combined social and environmental impact.
We tried to make these standards as holistic as possible, taking into consideration water input, energy input, land use, eco-toxicity, greenhouse gas emissions, human toxicity, availability and price. We also looked at garment care implications, like microfiber shedding.
We have five categories:
Natural fibers that are rapidly renewable, plant-based and have a potential for circularity.
B–Better than most
B fibers are almost all natural or recycled fibers.
C–Could be better
Fibers in the C category are better alternatives than more commonly used fibers, but not as innovative.
D–Don’t use unless certified
D’s require certifications for raw material cultivation (i.e. organic), animal welfare, traceability or wet processing (i.e. Bluesign)
E fibers are too environmentally or socially intensive, and don’t meet our sustainability criteria. We'll only source these fibers if they are necessary for specific fabric construction and performance and we try to use <10%.
Our goal is to make 75% of our products with A & B fibers.
Fiber selection affects how you’re going to wash the garment and potentially recycle it one day. That’s why we have our own Ref fiber standard. We tried to make these as holistic as possible, taking into consideration water input, energy input, land use, eco-toxicity, greenhouse gas emissions, human toxicity, availability, and price.
We think TENCEL™ is the holy grail of fibers for fabrics. Made by Austrian company Lenzing, TENCEL™ Lyocell is a regenerated cellulose fiber with properties almost identical to cotton. It’s part of the Rayon family, made from renewable wood materials.
TENCEL™ is manufactured mainly from Eucalyptus tree farms, which grow fast and thick on low-grade land. It takes just half an acre to grow enough trees for one ton of TENCEL™ fiber. Cotton needs at least five times as much land—plus, it must be good quality farmland. TENCEL™ production is done without the use of pesticides or insecticides (unlike its dirty cousin, cotton).
While these trees don’t need irrigation, water is still used to process the pulp and turn it into TENCEL™ fiber. Lenzing estimates its water use at 155 gallons per pound of fiber, which is 80% less than cotton.
TENCEL™ has a closed loop production process, meaning over 99% of the non-toxic solvent is captured and reused in the system instead of being flushed out as wastewater. And don’t just take our word for it: TENCEL™ fibers are certified by the European eco-label Oeko Tex 100 as containing low levels of manufacturing chemicals and byproducts.
To get deep into it, check out more info from Lenzing.
TENCEL ™ X REFIBRA™
REFIBRA™ combines up to 30% of upcycled cotton scraps with wood pulp to produce new virgin TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers. By incorporating cotton trimmings it helps avoid waste problems and provides a solution for a circular economy--basically doubling the goodness of TENCEL™.
Recycled cotton is repurposed from either pre-or post-consumer cotton waste that would otherwise be waste and go to landfill. It allows us to have that soft cotton feel without the environmental impact that comes from virgin cotton.
Deadstock & Vintage
Up to 5% of our products are made out of “deadstock” fabrics. Textiles make up almost 6% of the trash entering U.S. landfills every year. We buy verified old, leftover, and over-ordered fabric from other designers and fabric warehouses. This allows us to reuse and divert these materials from the landfill and into your closet. It looks better than it sounds.
About 2–5% of our stuff is made out of vintage clothing. We buy vintage pieces from wholesalers across the US to repurpose into new pieces. This includes bulk vintage denim, cashmere and other materials that we refashion and include in our collections. We also source lots of one-of-a-kind stuff for our stores. Remanufactured clothing can save more than 13,000 pounds of CO2 emissions per person, per year. Also, it’s super cute.
B–Better than most
Linen is made from flax, and is one of the best fabrics out there and has been for ages. It is strong, breezy, and oh so gentle to your skin and the planet. Linen uses basically no water, and emits ¼ of the carbon as cotton per pound of fiber. As an extra plus, most of our linen is made in mills that are Oeko-Tex 100 certified.
TENCEL™ Modal is also a wood based fiber. TENCEL™ Modal is processed from sustainably managed beechwood forests in northern and central Europe. Fiber yield of beechwood trees is 2 times higher than that of cotton plants. Plus, trees require less fertilizers!
The majority of our woven fabric is made of viscose – AKA rayon – which is another synthetic, wood-based fiber. We’re super committed to making sure the forests we source from are conserved, protected, and restored. That’s why we work with the non-profit group Canopy to help drive positive change for all our forest products, engage our suppliers and staff, and ensure all our forest-based products come from sustainably managed forests. We are also signatories to the Changing Markets Roadmap, and have made a public commitment to clean up viscose supply chains by reducing the environmental impact of our viscose and pushing for responsible production practices. See our full Sustainable Forest Commitment here.
We get why everyone loves cashmere. It's warm and cozy and super delicious against your skin. Unfortunately, the global demand for it has led to goats overgrazing in Mongolia. It's basically turning grasslands into deserts. That's why we use recycled cashmere. Recycled cashmere yarns are made from repurposed, regenerated cashmere clippings and knitwear to produce the same smooth feel as conventional cashmere. On average 1 kg of recycled cashmere has 80% less of the environmental impact than conventional cashmere. Talk about a cozy win-win.