Monday, April 22, 2013

Product Review


 -- Product Review --


Samantha Weinman, fashion media and marketing manager of American Apparel, first connected with me back on April 5th re: reviewing their new sustainable line of clothing. Amazingly the products arrived just 6 days later on April 11th, delivered to my door. Packaging consisted of one thick plastic shipping bag that contained 4 items – each item had a small brown paper label made of 100% recycled paper… both the paper label, shipping bag and even the small plastic tag attaching the label to the product are recyclable. All of their clothing is manufactured in the US, where environmental standards and employee rights are more stringent than other countries outside of North America. This also means that there is less fossil fuels spent in shipping the fabric to the manufacturer and then the product to the consumer.

I was thrilled to find that the soft yellow hat and autumn orange sweater were made from pre-consumer cotton fibers… what this means is that the company sells excess scraps left over from the cutting and sewing process to a textile recycling company that in turn sells their recycled content yarn back to American Apparel for them to use in their new eco-friendly clothing line. It is a fantastic sustainable business model that the world can learn from. I loved the fact that by doing this one small thing there will be a reduction in the amount of wasted fabric scraps heading to the landfill where as organic material it will break down anaerobically creating all kinds of havoc to the air and soil and water tables. This also cuts down on water waste and land use because it is recycling a product that is already manufactured and dyed; at the same time it saves energy and resources consumed in the manufacturing process.

The soft yellow (“golden rod beanie”) knit hat is flexible enough to accommodate many sized heads and is fashionable enough to wear in town, yet light enough for cool evenings and light winter days. The label explains that it is manufactured in LA, CA (USA) from 74% cotton, 24% acrylic and 2% other fibers. Hand wash and line dry or use hand or delicate wash settings and low dry settings on the laundering machines.

The autumn orange sweater (“orange julep”) is a welcome color to my wardrobe, and is made from 55% recycled cotton yarn and 45% polyester – it will need to be hand washed and lain flat to dry.

The “galaxy” blue and soft “pomegranate” orange short sleeve t-shirts are both light and very soft to the touch, they will be perfect for the summer and fall season. They are both part of the Sustainable Edition of American Apparel’s new line of 100% organic clothing and can be washed in cold water and low dryer settings on the laundry machines. It looks like they can be ironed as well, if that is of concern to you… personally I don’t mind a little crinkle here or there.

American Apparel has over 500 US employees and are setting the bar high when it comes to organic and sustainable clothing retail and online stores. They are known as a “vertically-integrated” organization – which means that the one company controls all stages of the production, from the acquisition of raw materials to the manufacturing and distribution, in a sustainable manner. It is a way of controlling the quality and sustainability of the product, but also reaches out to agriculture to partner with their efforts as well. They are proud to offer sweatshop-free clothing made within Californian borders (which has some of the strictest guidelines in the US), yet with warehouses in Canada the UK, and Germany as well as their 12 or more online websites – they are able to serve an international clientele. The company offers everything from workout and casual wear clothing for the whole family (including the dog) to fashionable travel clothing and reusable bags of every shape and size. Because they tend to focus on ring-spun fabrics the clothing will (generally speaking) be more durable, softer, will keep their shape longer and hold the color longer then you’ll find in other fabrics.

I found it quite interesting to learn that the company is virtually zero-waste with very little heading to the landfill – on top of this they have installed enough solar panels to date to offset 20% of their energy use, and they choose the most environmentally friendly shipping options possible. With all of this in mind it is amazing that they can still offer an affordable product. Frugal shoppers will definitely want to check out their online sale page where they can find multi-packs, sales, mystery grab bags and discounted items. I love the color ranges they have available – and will definitely shop their Canadian online store in the future. Find their main site at: www.americanapparel.net


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