Unlike your farmer’s market fruits and vegetables, where your clothing comes from is a much more complicated origin story. There’s no detailed ingredient list or anecdotal biography about the blissful, cage-free lifestyles of your apparel’s fibers. Aside from a few country locations listed on hang tags, discovering the source of materials and how they’re made into clothing seems scarce even with diligent research. We noticed this same lack of transparency and set out on a relentless mission to change this process.
Since our start, we’ve worked to provide our customers with the most detailed information on where we gather our materials and how they are crafted, cut, dyed and sewn. We are passionate about reimagining an industry through responsibly made clothing while continuing to learn how to better the earth every day. With the support of our community, we’ve proudly pioneered many new ideas that raise the standard for sustainable design in our industry and beyond. Today, we are excited to share our latest sustainability initiative.
“We wanted to do this not only because we like to challenge ourselves but because there’s a lack of a fully transparent supply chain,” says Dylon Shepelsky, R&D and Innovation Manager at Outerknown. “Soil health is very important. Part of Outerknown’s story has always embraced this core of being a local West Coast brand. We wanted to take that and really own it. The idea is to not only regenerate the soil but to actually create a fully U.S. based supply chain that can support that.”
“We are in the process of creating a product that has been grown, spun, ginned, knit, dyed and sewed all in the U.S. with 90% of the process taking place on the West Coast.”
Facilitated by our friends at FiberShed and White Buffalo Land Trust with technical textile systems guidance from Materevolve and Torus consultancies, we’ve joined a coalition of companies that together have identified farming partners who would be the best for scale and proximity to the California FiberShed. As a group, we’ve positioned ourselves pre-competitively to obtain a certain amount of fiber coming off these plots.
"What’s so special about this C4 initiative is that we as a brand got to work directly with the farmers. We got to sit on the farm with them. We got to really talk through what methods they’re using, what tilling methods they use, what their water irrigation looks likes."
Led by Shepelsky and our dedicated partners at FiberShed, members of the Outerknown team headed up the coast to Central California.
We were incredibly inspired by the detailed processes of growing and harvesting cotton and how it gets spun into the fabric we wear today. We also gained incredible insight into domestic processing, how to successfully come together to address a shared problem and the astounding possibilities of co-working with fellow stakeholders.
“We stood on the soil! We were picking our fiber, we were playing in the cotton, we were in the fields. We saw the bales firsthand,” Shepelsky exudes. “We saw them ginning, we got to be a part of every process. And that is what is so special about a project like this. No one in supply chain can say that this is normal for them because it’s not. It’s abnormal.”
“As Outerknown, a leader in sustainability, it’s important that we commit to projects like these. You don’t have sustainability without these producers and these producers are where your first stop is.”
Outerknown is excited and proud to be working with two thoughtful and sustainably-focused farming operations to nurture the earth while cultivating planet-friendly cotton that will be carefully and responsibly crafted into Outerknown clothing!