Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.
At 2WO BRAND, we believe the future of sustainable clothing begins with your worn-out threads. We make modern-meets-classic clothing for women using recycled fabrics and incentivize our customers to recycle their old, worn-out clothing to prevent environmental degradation.
WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"
What if we sourced materials for clothing from our closets instead of cotton fields to reduce environmental degradation?
Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
We are trashing more clothing than ever. Americans throw away 28 billion pounds of clothing every year, with 85 percent of it ending up in landfills. Much of this clothing waste could be recycled into new fabric to replace a substantial percentage of the virgin fabric produced by the clothing industry annually. This would prevent environmental damage by decreasing agricultural chemical use, water use and pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
2WO BRAND closes the loop on clothing waste, reducing environmental degradation.
We offer modern takes on classic looks for women using recycled poly-cotton fabric. When a customer orders our clothing online, we include a mailing label in the package that allows her to donate a clothing item back to us in return for a discount on a future purchase.
We send non-cotton donations to companies who find continued use for them. Meanwhile cotton donations go to our fabric suppliers, where they are sorted, broken down into fibers, restrung into poly-cotton yarn, and woven into fabric. The recycling process requires no water, chemicals, and dyes, and produces almost zero carbon emissions. We buy the recycled fabric to start our process anew.
2WO BRAND's founder Griffin Vanze received fellowships to two institutions for his business in 2015: StartingBloc and The Enviropreneur Institute
Impact: How does it Work
Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.
By recycling clothing as opposed to producing virgin clothing, we can prevent agricultural chemical use, water use and pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. For example, for every t-shirt made with recycled poly-cotton fabric as opposed to virgin cotton, we can prevent the use of 1/3 pound of pesticides and herbicides, and over 700 gallons of water, as well as avert 3 ½ pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the air.
In 5 years, we aim to prevent the use of 168,000 pounds of pesticides and herbicides, save 354 million gallons of water, and stop 1.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide from going into our air.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.
We have established our supply chain. To do so, we researched and spoke to every major recycled yarn manufacturer and corresponding fabric mill in the US. We also developed our clothing production team, and completed the prototype and sample stages of production. We will begin manufacturing clothing in December 2015, ready for sale in February 2016.
Our impact will be two-fold. In the immediate future, we will divert clothing from landfills. Over time, we will increase market share for recycled poly-cotton clothing, thereby reducing market share for virgin cotton clothing, to prevent the environmental damage that stems from virgin cotton clothing production.
Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?
We have identified two obstacles to growth that we are overcoming:
Customer adoption – previously, recycled fabrics were not as high-quality as virgin fabrics, but we worked extensively with fabric mills to create recycled fabrics that look great, feel great, and are durable. We have already seen evidence of our success based on customer feedback.
Diversification of recycled fabrics – we want to include other recycled materials such as wool and silk in our design, but availability is presently very limited. We are now working to establish supply chains for each of these materials.
Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?
We will fund our venture through two avenues: revenues from goods sold and outside investment. By year 5, we project quarterly sales of $4 million. To achieve this growth and become cash flow positive, we will raise two rounds of investment from a combination of angel investors and venture capitalists.
Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?
I:CO, a clothing recycling company, partners with clothing brands that have physical stores to install clothing collection boxes. Customers recycle clothing by weight in return for discounts on future purchases. However, many of I:CO’s partners do not sell clothing made from recycled fabrics.
Patagonia sells clothing made from recycled polyester and recycled cotton. Customers can recycle Patagonia clothing at its stores, but do not receive discounts on future purchases. Patagonia sells clothing made for outdoor activities at a high price point, a different market segment than 2WO BRAND’s.
During a beach cleanup in 2013, 2WO BRAND’s founder Griffin Vanze was surprised to see so many disposed clothing items – he picked up over 30 shirts covered in wet sand. After the cleanup, the shirts were sent to the local landfill. He thought something better could be done with them, but he wasn’t quite sure what.
As Griffin later learned, he had only seen the tip of the iceberg – in fact, the average American threw out 68 pounds of clothing a year! At this point, he knew that his thought on the beach was bigger than himself, and he set out finding new uses for old clothing.
Griffin Vanze, 2WO BRAND’s founder and CEO, works full-time on the venture. He is supported by 2WO BRAND’s lead designer, production manager, and sales and marketing manager, who together have over 20 years of experience in the fashion industry and startup companies.
2WO BRAND also has a team of 6 advisors – including financial experts, circular economy professionals, and sustainable textile entrepreneurs – to guide its business strategy.
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]
Raw Materials, Manufacturing, Consumption.
Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]
Brand Representative, Corporate Staff, Sourcing Manager / Supply Chain Manager.
Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]
Consumers, Sourcing Manager / Supply Chain Manager, Supplier - contractor.
Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.
Advocacy, Standards, Technology.
Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?
Consumers Aren't Motivated to Care: Neither Compelling Reasons Nor Easy Means to Change Consumption Habits, Sustainability is Not Yet in the DNA: Fast Fashion’s Current Model Disincentivizes Value-Driven Economies.
Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?
Unite More than Voice: Tap into Community Capital and Collective Resources, Transform the Chain into a Web: Link Unlikely Sectors that Open New Pathways to Sustainability.
Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?
If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?
● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?
Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?
We inspire our customers to reassess their clothing consumption and disposal habits.
● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?
We are partnering with US-based fabric mills to diversify the types of knitted and woven fabrics constructed from recycled yarn.