And while legions of businesses have co-opted the sustainability tagline for marketing purposes, those on its leading edge acknowledge the fact it is a long journey requiring hard work and a vision to attain it. Count among those Eileen Fisher, the eponymous women’s clothing brand – with a nine-year-old store at 149 Throckmorton in downtown Mill Valley – founded by Fisher in 1984 with $350 in startup money.
With its Vision2020 campaign, the company pledges to make all of its products environmentally sustainable by the year 2020, to make its U.S. operations not just carbon neutral but carbon positive within five years, to help reverse the trend of fashion over-consumption, to build supply chains that manufacture responsibly and to adhere to fair labor practices and reach out to other fashion labels to create demand for non-toxic dyes as an industry norm.
With those lofty goals in mind, Eileen Fisher’s Mill Valley store is celebrating the brand’s journey to 100 percent sustainability by touting some of its specific efforts towards reaching them. They include:
- Eileen Fisher Renew program (previously known as “Green Eileen”), for which the brand takes back and recycles used Eileen Fisher items, giving customers $5 credit for each item they bring in. ion 2017, the company resold 64,409 of these garments, keeping them out of landfill.
- Energy use. To do its part in reducing global energy consumption, Eileen Fisher has committed leave less fabric waste on the cutting room floor, use less water and emit less carbon by investing in alternative energy and cutting its reliance on air shipping.
- B Corp. In 2016, Eileen Fisher attained this certification in 2016, meaning that its practices meet the highest standards of verified performance, transparency, and accountability.
- Bluesign Technologies. At most dyehouses, hazardous chemicals go into your clothes—and out with the wastewater for treatment. Since 2009, Eileen Fisher has worked with this firm to shift its global dyehouses toward responsible chemical, water and energy usage. By 2020, roughly 30% of its product will be bluesign certified. “But frankly, that’s not good enough,” Fisher says. “We’re going to reach out to other brands and work together to create demand for responsible dyes. It’s our bid for collaboration as the new industry norm.”