Sustainability FAQ

Sustainability FAQ

How do you choose what materials to use?
The materials we use have a big impact on the sustainability of our clothes. Up to 2/3rds of the sustainability potential in fashion is focused at the raw material stage–before the clothes have actually been made. That’s why we vet all our raw materials to make sure they are in line with Ref standards. Our material standards are pretty thorough and holistic, and take into consideration things like water input, energy input, land use, eco-toxicity, greenhouse gas emissions, human toxicity, availability, and price. We also look at garment care implications like microfiber shedding. You can read more about our standards here.

How do you verify that your certifications are actually legit?
We think it’s important to have traceability throughout the supply chain for all our stuff. That means knowing who makes our products every step of the way. We work closely with our suppliers to track and verify any certifications or claims so we can feel confident that the fibers we use in our materials are legitimately better. That goes for all sustainable fibers like organic cotton, recycled cotton, responsible wool, etc. Learn more about what we require from our suppliers in our fiber standards.

Is Reformation a vegan brand?
We aren’t a vegan brand but many of our fabrics are vegan-friendly, plant-based, and rapidly renewable. We have implemented an animal welfare policy which outlines our commitment to humane conditions and treatment of animals. In addition we have a prohibited material list that bans the use of certain animal products like: animal fur, Angora Mohair, and exotic skins.

What is sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion is about doing things the hard way to secure the future of our planet and everyone on it. If we want to continue making and buying clothing, we must protect the people and natural resources that make it possible. Sustainable fashion works to do this, and amplify these practices, so that the industry continues to propagate good and prevent harm for as long as clothes are made.

What is Refscale?
RefScale is our internal lifecycle tool. It tracks our environmental footprint by adding up the pounds of carbon dioxide emitted, gallons of water we use, and pounds of waste we generate. Then we calculate how Reformation’s products help reduce these impacts compared with most clothes bought in the US. We share this information on every product page of our website and tell you exactly what impact each garment has on the environment. Check out our RefScale page for more information.

What is Reformation doing to help fight climate change?
Sustainability is at the core of everything we do—from our factory in Los Angeles to our fabrics, packaging, and retail stores. We're committed to pushing the industry forward and investing in future-focused solutions, which is why we're a certified Climate Neutral company and will be Climate Positive by 2025. We’re doing this by going beyond buying offsets and focusing on three main initiatives: reducing emissions, insetting, and sourcing regenerative fibers. Learn more about our commitment here.

We’re empowering our customers to do the same by making carbon offsets available for purchase on our site, incentivizing environmentally conscious choices like recycling and switching to wind energy, and educating customers on the environmental impact of buying Ref, versus conventional clothing.

What is Climate Positive?
Climate positivity goes beyond the achievement of net zero carbon emissions to actually create an environmental benefit by removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than you emit. Learn more about our commitment here.

What is a carbon offset?
Carbon offsets are a way to compensate for carbon emissions by investing money in projects that cancel out the emission of carbon dioxide from a certain activity. Since 2015, we’ve offset 100% of carbon emissions, water, and waste our clothes used by supporting projects that help put back some of the resources we used.

What is the difference between offsetting & insetting?
Carbon offsets are a way to compensate for carbon emissions by investing in projects that cancel out the emission of CO2 from a certain activity. Insetting is a type of offsetting, but instead of investing in just any project, insetting invests in projects that replace the CO2 where the activity took place. That means investing in projects directly in our supply chain or in the communities our facilities are located–like an on-site solar project at a partner facility.

What is circularity?
Circularity goes beyond the linear model of take-make-dispose to create an economy that aims to restore itself. The idea is that instead of following a straight line, the model moves in a circular fashion so nothing gets thrown away or released into the environment. It focuses on three principles: design out waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, and regenerate natural systems.

What is deadstock?
We define deadstock as old, leftover, and over-ordered fabric from other designers and fabric warehouses. We have a verification process in place to ensure that the fabric is actually deadstock.

Is deadstock fabric certified “clean”?
Unfortunately, since we are “rescuing” fabric that would otherwise end up in the landfill we don’t know much about it–which means that it probably isn’t clean chemistry certified. But all of our fabrics that do not hold clean certifications are tested against our Restricted Substance list which is in line with AFIRM.

Why do deadstock fabrics always have such large RefScale savings?
Since we look at deadstock as fabric that would otherwise be thrown away, we don't take into consideration the water and environmental impact it took to create the fabric since the fabric wasn’t made for us. That means that we only calculate the environmental impacts from product manufacturing to end of life, eliminating the three initial stages of the life-cycle.

What is microfiber pollution?
Microfiber pollution happens when clothes made with plastic shed tiny pieces of plastic called microfibers. Microfibers are too small to be filtered out by waste treatment plants, so they end up in our waterways and oceans by the billions. Once in the ocean, they act as pollution magnets that marine animals mistake for food, which harms aquatic ecosystems, and can eventually end up in our food.

What are you doing to reduce microfiber pollution?
At Ref we use recycled synthetics to lessen our environmental impact, but these still shed microfibers too. We are constantly working on staying up to date with the latest environmental studies and tools to help reduce microfiber shedding. That way we can integrate it into our practices, and educate our customers along the way.

What can I do to reduce microfiber pollution?
Clothes tend to shed microfibers when they are agitated which usually happens in the washing machine. That means that if you gently hand wash your synthetic clothes like your workout pants or swimwear, they will shed fewer microfibers. You can also use a Guppyfriend bag to capture microfibers when you hand or machine wash your stuff. You can buy a Guppyfriend bag on our website.

How do you choose which facilities/suppliers to work with?
We look at several different factors when it comes to choosing where we make our clothes - like quality, price, speed, reduced environmental impact, and working conditions. We seek partner facilities that strive to meet our requirements as well as demonstrate a commitment to our core principles of sustainability, accountability, continuous improvement and transparency.

How many facilities/suppliers do you work with?
To learn more about our partner factories and our onboarding process, please visit Our Factories page. Our facilities list is published twice a year on our website as well as on the Open Apparel Registry (OAR) so that you can see who our partnered facilities are.

How do you ensure that workers in your supply chain are treated fairly?
All of our partnered facilities participate in annual third-party social compliance assessments. These assessments help to evaluate overall compliance with local laws related to working conditions, working hours, wages, health and safety, disciplinary practices, discrimination, environment, and other monitoring requirements. We also review grievance mechanisms such as suggestion boxes, grievance hotlines, and worker surveys during assessments. This process ensures that functional measures are in place that demonstrate workers know how to use these procedures and feel safe and free from potential retaliation if/when doing so. Our goal is to ensure that workers know their feedback is taken seriously. Since an assessment is just a snapshot in time, we develop a Corrective Action Plan with each facility to address issues and enact concentrated solutions.

What do you do when a facility doesn’t meet your requirements?
We take compliance seriously, so when a facility falls short of our expectations or local laws, we prioritize active continuous improvement, root cause analysis, and the development of necessary management systems through our Corrective Action Plan Management Process. This means that we figure out how and why the facility fell short, and take action to correct it. This helps facilities better understand what is required, why it is important, and how to implement preventive measures. Facilities with severe or critical concerns are placed under probationary status, which means that they may lose their ability to produce Reformation products. Exiting is always a last resort as we want to ensure we do not have a negative impact on workers, but we expect our partners to be transparent and take immediate action to substantially correct any open violations within a specified time frame. Learn more about our facility rating system here.

Why do you manufacture some stuff outside of the US?
When it comes to choosing where we make our clothes, we look at a number of different factors–quality, price, speed, reduced environmental impact and working conditions for the people in the facility. When considering these things, producing our pieces in the U.S. is not always the best option, some of the most socially and environmentally-responsible factories are outside of the U.S., and now we’re lucky enough to have them as our partners. We’ve always made our clothing in our own sustainable and ethical LA factory, but now we’ve expanded to sustainable and ethical factories around the world. We require all our direct cut, sew & finish manufacturing partners to adhere to our Code of Conduct (our requirements for ethical operations) and participate in independent, third-party social assessments to ensure fair, safe, and healthy working conditions and continuous improvement. Same super high standards, new locations. You can see a list of all of our factories and more information under the Factories section on our site.

What is a living wage and why is it important?
Living wages provide the means for workers to purchase goods and services like food, energy, education, housing, transportation, and health care. They are key to ending cycles of generational poverty and improving quality of life.

Do all Reformation employees and workers in your supply chain receive a living wage?
Our goal in 2020 was to have 100% of our Ref team meet or exceed the living wage. As of July 1, 2020, we achieved our goal and we are committed to keeping it that way. For our factory partners, we’re developing strategies for wage transparency and implementing fair compensation initiatives for workers in our manufacturing facilities, with the goal of 100% of Tier 1 strategic suppliers having fair wage programs by 2025.

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