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Can a former corporate fast fashion exec launch an authentic sustainability brand?

Can a former corporate fast fashion exec launch an authentic sustainability brand?

When a new sustainability-focused business is created by an industry veteran who has worked at Gap, Victoria’s Secret, and The Limited, it’s normal to have reservations about the venture’s credibility. Many have been accused of greenwashing for attempting to profit from sustainability as a trend rather than a mandate, and the burden of repairing our industry’s ways has tended to fall on the shoulders of the next generation, who have not been conditioned to operate ruthlessly in the name of profit over people and planet. Can the private sector, on the other hand, deliver the much-needed numbers of change in our industry? Allison Bloch, CEO of In Common, a newly founded underwear firm, argues that her experience provides an important “baseline” for developing ethical products that represent our common concerns and values.

The epidemic changed everything for Bloch. “I was at home, feeling helpless, like most people.” I didn’t have an outlet to aid or support those in need because I wasn’t a doctor or researcher “FashionUnited learns from her. “However, the event made me pause and reconsider my capabilities. I recognized that by utilizing my 18 years of expertise producing products that people know and love but might be made better, I could actually make a difference. My corporate fashion training provided me with the necessary knowledge of mass materials and packaging procedures. From then, I put my sights on performing better in terms of ethics, and I worked relentlessly to determine where there was space for change.”

In Common was built on the principles of better production, responsible procedures, sustainable fabrics, and fair-wage employment. According to Fairify, a website that helps consumers buy more sustainably by auditing over 250 brands on criteria such as transparency, climate targets, materials and sourcing, and philanthropy, Gap receives a D (Bad) grade and Victoria’s Secret receives an E. (Terrible). In 2017, the Limited closed all of its retail locations. Bloch’s skills as a former executive include brand building and, as stated in the press kit, “Taking advantage of the “white space,” but many sustainability experts now believe that the world does not require any additional products and that growth as a metric of success is essentially unsustainable. What does Bloch have to say about it?

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She comprehends and respects this viewpoint. It did, in fact, inspire her to choose a specific product category for her company.

“Everyday intimate things like bras and underwear have a realistic lifespan,” writes the author “she says. “It deteriorates after 6 to 12 months of use, regardless of how properly it was manufactured or how thoroughly it was washed. And once you can’t wear your underwear anymore, it’s not something most people want to buy secondhand.”

Underwear is unique in that it is both vital and replaceable, with no concept of recycling, resale, or even passing down through generations. “‘Vintage Underwear'” does not have curb appeal, according to Bloch, so they were useful limitations to work within.”

In Common’s proprietary technology in the brand’s Zero Bra uses the plant-based bioplastic EVA for cushioning, and she believes the process of making underwear can be modified to match with our ideals. Sugarcane is the main ingredient, whereas other mass-produced bras employ crude oil-based foam for their cups. “I believe it is critical to work toward educating women about the poisons and chemicals in the bras they choose to buy,” Bloch says.

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Bloch concedes that typical operational practices are difficult to abandon after nearly two decades in the sector. The following are the most noteworthy changes, according to her: “Having a large budget and a lot of resources to work with.” Every penny counts when beginning a business from the bottom up, and it’s critical to consider how far each dollar will stretch. It’s a tremendous change from working with a multibillion-dollar brand on a massive budget.”

On the one side, the global pandemic encouraged her to start her own business, but it also faced her with significant hurdles. Bloch’s experience was put to the test when she was faced with supply chain challenges she had never experienced before, as well as working remotely. “The hardest aspect for me was not being able to communicate with the team and the clients we were attempting to serve while simultaneously trying to create the brand,” she adds. “I’m proud of how much we got done over Zoom; yet, some things just aren’t the same without daily opportunity to communicate in person.” Despite powerful currents working against us, we’ve made significant progress, and I’m happy of what we’ve accomplished.”

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Bloch’s collaborative spirit was on display at the In Common pop-up opening in Manhattan’s Soho last month, where she brought together other ethically created item producers. Hand sanitizer by Noshinku, plant-based protein by Ora, and laundry detergent by Dirty Labs were displayed alongside the soft T-shirts and panties in a setting filled with compostable foliage and biodegradable mannequins to reinforce the philosophy of being at one with nature. Bloch claims, “We manufacture clothes for the common good at In Common, which means we commend and respect all of our partners who are working toward the same goal.” We adore this community, whether it’s a brand that promotes recyclable packaging, eliminates plastic waste, or takes one small step toward operating sustainably.”

Her ambition for the future is to continue to create and nurture this community while also encouraging individuals to make a difference in modest ways. “We hope to raise awareness about how accessible sustainable steps are by getting people to wear basics that are better for our planet.”

So it is possible to transition from a corporate fast fashion mindset to leading an independent sustainability-focused start-up, but Bloch emphasizes that this is a process, not a single step. The ultimate goal is to achieve a holistic convergence of personal and environmental well-being. “Because In Common is still a small start-up, there is obviously a lot of room for improvement,” she says. “However, I’m excited about where we’ve come from and where we’re headed.”


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