Sustainability Report Q1 2020

A letter from our Chief Sustainability Officer

Reformation was founded 11 years ago to bring sustainable fashion to everyone. It’s a mission we’ve been focused on ever since, and over the years we’ve tackled more complex sustainability issues. Our team started 2020 energized; we had big goals to set new standards for sustainable fashion. But in January we realized the Coronavirus was going to turn parts of our supply chain upside down. Many of our key partner factories and mills in China and Europe closed, and we paused new programs to expand our clean chemistry efforts and kick-off environmental assessments. We had to shift our focus from “pushing for better” to supporting our partners through all the uncertainties. By March, COVID-19 became a global pandemic. Like other brands, we’ve faced unprecedented challenges. The impacts of store closures and dropping E-commerce sales evaporated the budget we expected to spend this quarter on core sustainability initiatives like Climate Neutral certification and our living wage increase.

Things have been tough. Our first quarter hasn’t gone as planned. But it is times like these that test us and make us decide what kind of leaders we will be. We’ve done our best to put people first and protect jobs. We’ve been transparent about what we’re doing and why. And we’ve started to make masks and either donate or sell them at cost. In addition to my normal responsibilities at Ref, I’m also coordinating with the City of Los Angeles on LA Protects to help other brands and factories make masks. Because we have to use whatever resources available to protect lives, livelihoods, and those most vulnerable.

Doing the right thing by people and the planet is more relevant than ever. I am hopeful this will encourage more sustainable business models that rethink the status quo of fashion, which currently leads to things like inventory waste and workers injustices. I am also grateful that this has highlighted the ways we are all connected. The question is how can we take action as a global community to be more resilient to climate change and the next global crisis? At Ref, we will do everything we can to keep our commitments to our team, our partners, and to our sustainability goals. We will continue to do the hard work needed for immediate survival, and we won’t lose sight of the long-term vision for sustainable fashion. We are forever inspired by your questions and your support and look forward to sharing our progress as we go.

xx Kathleen

Millions of masks
How we are aligning with United Nations sustainable development goals
The fashion industry has a major impact on the global economy and the environment. That’s why we have aligned our sustainability framework with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to make sure we’re tackling the most important issues like climate change and economic inequality. Look for the icons for each program to see how our work relates to these SDGs. 

Here’s a breakdown of the SDGs that we’re tackling over the next 5 years:

Sexy math

RefScale tracks our environmental footprint by adding the pounds of carbon dioxide emitted, gallons of water used, and pounds of waste generated. Then we calculate how much Reformation saves compared to conventional clothes bought in the US. 

The whole equation follows the lifecycle of clothes—everything from growing textile fibers and making fabric, dyeing, moving materials, manufacturing, packaging, shipping, garment care, and even recycling clothes when you’re done with them.[1] We offset our footprint 100%, but always push for better materials, factories, and operations to keep our footprint as low as possible.

2020 Total Footprint
Fiber standards

Up to 2/3 of our sustainability impact happens at the raw materials stage—before the clothes have actually been made. Fiber selection also affects how you’re going to 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 our own Ref fiber standards.

Good news: currently 83% of our fabrics meet A/B ratings above our goal of 75%. [2]


Traceability is about knowing exactly where our stuff comes from. We want to be able to answer “who made our clothes” at every level of the supply chain to ensure positive environmental and social impacts of our stuff. Our goal for 2020 was to reach 100% traceability into our Tier 1 & 2 suppliers–we’re almost there and are on track to meet our goal by the end of the year. Our next focus will be to go deeper at the fiber, forest, and farm level. Here’s a quick breakdown of our supply chain mapping progress in Q1.[3]

Coming soon

Exciting updates on a resale store
A new spin on our RefRecyling program
Updates to our RefScale (behind the scenes stuff like the data and methodology)
An open-source sustainable operations guide for retail stores

1 We publish our methodology on our website so you can really dig in and understand what we include in the calculations. 
2 Fiber performance is based on the majority fiber content in the fiber composition. Calculated for fabrics used in Q1 2020. Percentages rounded to the nearest whole number.
3 Traceability and fiber performance are calculated by fabric count for the following categories: apparel, lingerie, shoe uppers, shoe linings, and bags. This does not include other shoe components or trims yet and excludes all deadstock materials.
4 Clean chemistry statistics are calculated by unique printer, dyer and tannery count. Certifications included in this total are Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Bluesign, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Global Recycled Standard (GRS). Calculated for facilities that were used in Q1 2020. 
5 The United States living wage is defined by MIT referencing “1 adult + 0 children”. The London living wage is defined by Living Wage Foundation for the UK, and Toronto living wage is defined by Ontario Living Wage Network 
6 This is based on LA County, California living wage referencing MIT “1 adult + 0 children".

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