Since the Seattle-based start-up Girlfriend Collective launched in 2016, it has been their mission to stray from fast fashion and its negative impacts. Husband and wife co-founders Ellie and Quang Dinh were joined by veteran designers with collective experience from renowned brands such as Acne Studios, Lululemon and Elizabeth and James in order to create ethical activewear brand, Girlfriend Collective.
The idea for Girlfriend Collective first came when Ellie was finally fed up with paying $100 for leggings and tights that were monotonous. She could see there was a gap in the market for affordable, luxury active wear that did not damage the planet or communities, and that women were proud to wear.
The team was committed to being the change in the fashion industry, even if at times, it wasn't always the easiest way forward.
So how is Girlfriend Collective different to other activewear brands?
This responsibly-made activewear brand that seems almost too good to be true. Here's how it ticks all the important boxes:
1. Girlfriend Collective uses certified recycled fabrics.
Girlfriend Collective leggings uses recycled fabrics that have been certified by Oeko-Tex, Global Recycling Standards and Bluesign. Certified Bluesign assures product safety in consumer safety, resource productivity, water emissions, air emissions, and workplace health and safety.
Each pair of ethical leggings is actually made from 25 recycled water bottles. The caps and labels are removed from used bottles and afterwards shredded to tiny pieces. Those pieces are turned into even smaller pieces and eventually end up as ultra-soft fibers that become the yarn. The yarn then makes up Girlfriend Collective’s ecofriendly, fair trade, super comfortable leggings.
2. Girlfriend Collective is ethically manufactured.
The Girlfriend Collective team worked hard to find a factory that would manufacture their leggings with the highest ethical standards possible. After some time searching, they finally found the SA8000 facility in Hanoi, Vietnam that could handle the highly technical fabric. Everyone from the factory to the office employed with Girlfriend Collective are ensured a safe work environment and are given living wages to live a proper life.
“It’s so important to educate consumers on what sustainable fashion really looks like, where their clothes are coming from, and the impact it can have when you think about fashion from every angle”, co-founder Quang Dinh told The Kit.
3. Girlfriend Collective has 'slow' design integrity.
Girlfriend Collective understands that high end fit and feel are the result of putting in time and is not a matter of cost. The brand takes the time to ensure each of their designs is amazing. To give you an example, it took the team 9 months, 47 samples and 16 patterns to create their leggings design.
In slowing down and taking the time to carefully perfect every item, Girlfriend Collective offers pieces that will still be loved the same amount years later as they were when they were first bought. The team acknowledges how lucky they are to have already found a community of people that care as much about where their clothes come from as they do. Girlfriend Collective wants to “flip the active wear industry with the simple formula” of providing their community their remarkable ethically and sustainably made products at affordable prices.
4. Girlfriend Collective revolutionised ethical marketing.
Part of their campaigning was to give away their amazing leggings for free. Why? “Instead of going the status quo and giving more money over to the advertising companies, we decided to spend that money giving leggings to our customers and asking them to spread the word for us,” co-founder Ellie Dinh tells Refinery29.
The free legging campaign began in Aril 2016 and gained much attention, with many people thinking it was a scam. The word was spread on Facebook, shared so much the sharing button crashed and at the end of the first day, they had given away 10,000 pairs. The promo ended in February 2017, so no more free leggings but you can still get your hands on the Girlfriend Collective’s pieces when their full range opens.
5. Girlfriend Collective ethical activewear is affordable.
As you’re probably already aware, most high quality leggings available can cost upwards of US$100. However, the Girlfriend Collective team were determined to show the world that higher quality does not always mean a higher price. “When we launch our full line this Spring, leggings will be priced around $70 [USD]”, Girlfriend Collective reveals in their press release.
Since they started, Girlfriend Collective has already diverted 6,000,000 used plastic water bottles from landfill and will continue to transform more. After nine months of campaigning, they learnt the world is ready for fashionable, ethical and sustainable active wear (that arrives in recyclable packaging!). The team will be soon ready to show everyone what they have to offer.
To shop their full active wear line which will include mid-rise and ¾ length leggings, sports bras, organic tees and even bomber jackets, visit www.girlfriend.com
Searching for more ethical activewear brands? Check out our post 10 Australian Ethical Activewear Brands You'll Love