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Conscious Series: adidas

"At adidas, sustainability is part of our core belief: through sport we have the power to change lives. Sustainability, for us, is an ongoing process."

20 APRIL 2022
If you’re familiar with Otrium, you’ll know by now that we believe all clothing should be worn. We’re on a mission to eliminate unsold inventory and change the way clothing is created and sold. And on our journey towards a smarter fashion industry, we’ve teamed up with Good On You – the leading source for fashion brand sustainability ratings. Using their expert know-how, Otrium can highlight brands that are more sustainable. We label these brands as Conscious, which allows our customers to make more informed choices when they shop. 
To celebrate our Good On You collaboration, we’ve been chatting to Conscious-rated brands on our platform. Today is also Earth Day, so what better time to speak to a global name like adidas to find out their take on sustainability and more? 
Here’s what adidas is doing to pioneer changes for the better.
Sustainability: what does it mean to adidas?
Sustainability is part of our core belief: through sport we have the power to change lives. Sustainability, for us, is an ongoing process. We have always been involved in it and we have always worked on this topic, through the BCI Cotton Initiative, Work Labour Agreement and more. We want to provide the best sports gear using the best sustainable option available.
Tell us more about adidas… 
The adidas brand has a long history and deep-rooted connection with sport. Its broad and diverse portfolio in both the Sport Performance and Sport Inspired categories ranges from major global sports to regional grassroot events plus local sneaker culture. This has enabled adidas to transcend cultures and become one of the most recognized, credible and iconic brands both on and off the field of play.
We believe that through sports we have the power to change lives. We will always strive to expand the limits of human possibilities, to include and unite people in sport, and to create a more sustainable world.  
Where did the brand’s sustainable journey begin?
Our sustainability journey began in the 1990s, becoming a member of the Fair Labor Association – an organization that helps to improve the lives of millions of workers around the world. In 2000, all our products became PVC-free and we created the first 100% recyclable performance shoe in 2019. See the timeline below for our other milestones in becoming more sustainable:
What achievement are you most proud of?
Back in 2015, adidas was the first brand to create a shoe made of ocean plastic with Parley (an organization that addresses major threats towards the ocean and works with collaborators to raise awareness and action projects to help end destruction). 
Tell us about your ‘End Plastic Waste’ mission and how it helps adidas solve this global problem? 
We want to offer more sustainable options to our consumers by designing products made with recycled plastic or in partnership with other companies and organizations (such as Parley, above), as well as items that can be recycled, to stop them ending up in landfills.  
How do you envision using circular techniques to help mitigate the negative impact of plastic waste and pollution?
We plan to give consumers the option to return products that they no longer use to be either re-worked or recycled. Made To Be Remade is our current line made from recycled materials, and each piece can be recycled again at the end of its life.
The objective is to be a platform with items made from sustainably sourced materials and to have more options for recycling old products and reducing waste. We’re also working on a new program for even more circular services. 
Does Otrium’s circular model help you to reach your targets with this mission?  
Yes, for sure. Being more circular is key to help end plastic waste. For us, that’s giving consumers more opportunities to buy recycled products and finding more solutions for older items to be reused and repurposed.
What else are you working on at the moment?
We want to develop more and more. We are working to make sure we achieve our commitment to make 9 out of 10 items more sustainably by 2025. We look for new innovations, we push our customers, and we bring forward communication to support our consumer on what we can do together.
What is the biggest challenge on the roadmap of improvements?
Sustainability is a long journey, and we need to really put in the effort to bring this forward. We not only want to change what adidas does, but how our industry acts towards sustainability at large. We face challenges every day to find the best materials and the best way to resonate with consumers.
What do customers value most about adidas and its products?
adidas is a strong sports brand and we’re here to bring the best for the athlete. For us, “Impossible is Nothing” and we carry this value with us to really strengthen our sustainability journey.
Where do you see adidas in 5 years?
adidas wants to be the leader of sustainability in our industry. By 2025, 9 out of 10 items in our range will be made sustainably, and we will also stop using virgin polyester wherever possible (by 2024). Besides which, we want to be a more circular company as a whole by then. 
Do you think that through changing the historical fashion industry framework, we can achieve a reduction in plastic waste?
What we need to do is to change the industry. adidas has been working and investing in sustainability for years. We want to set an example, learn from our partners and keep fostering the change. If we lead, others will follow. By helping consumers be more sustainable, our mission to help end plastic waste will keep on going.  
What does the future of fashion look like?
Consumers are looking for more circularity. The fashion industry needs to adapt to introduce products that last longer, and can be recycled or have their lifecycle extended, so we can make sure we are not creating more waste. This is what people want and we need to provide the solutions. 
Amazing work. Thanks for chatting to us, adidas. 

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Conscious Series: ARMEDANGELS

On our journey towards a smarter fashion industry, we’ve teamed up with Good On You – the leading source for fashion brand sustainability ratings. Using their know-how, we can now highlight brands that are going above and beyond to make a positive impact, and label them as Sustainable; allowing our customers to make more informed choices. To celebrate, we’ve been chatting to Sustainable-rated brands on our platform to find out their take on being conscious as a company, and more. We spoke to Lavinia Muth, former Corporate Responsibility lead at ARMEDANGELS. The Cologne-based brand not only makes fabulous fashion but is also here to make a positive impact. Here’s what Lavinia had to say: What does sustainability mean to you? “Well, personally I believe that sustainability is not enough – because it does not fix what’s broken. We need to think about more intelligent and more regenerative systems. At ARMEDANGELS, we define a sustainable product as follows: a product is sustainable if the used materials intend to sustain the status-quo and do no further harm to the people and the planet. We define a product to be sustainable if it contains at least 95% of alternative materials defined in the ARMEDANGELS Material Guidelines.”Tell us a little more about ARMEDANGELS.“Founded in 2007 by two students, at the time, with the aim to actually produce and sell organic and fairly traded shorts in an ethical way. We started with a bottom-up approach, which worked out. Now, 14 years later, we are 129 passionate employees. We also do denim, knits, wovens, underwear, and more. We are GOTS and GRS certified, have joined the Fair Wear Foundation, have founded our own organic farmers' association in India with more than 505 farmers and we are on our way to responsibly implement circular business models. There’s more to come, so stay tuned!” What is your role within ARMEDANGELS? “I do Corporate Responsibility, which means that I implement social and ecological standard requirements at product-level and in supply chains. I also work closely with the top management, advocating for a fairer and more just fashion world, and for questioning our current business model.” What’s been your journey to helping ARMEDANGELS create a positive impact? “My background is Economics, Supply Chain Management, and Business Ethics, and I started working in the textile world 12 years ago. I am an accredited auditor and an in-your-face advocate for social and environmental justice, but my true dedication is more on the interfaces of business and human rights.” What achievement makes you most proud? “Our direct-to-grower approach within our work of the ARMEDANGELS Organic Farmers Association in India.” And what are you working on at the moment?“Defining corporate strategies, processes and new impact systems is my current daily routine. It’s super-exciting, although I prefer fieldwork where I can actively make a difference.” What’s the best feedback you have ever received from customers?“Authenticity, credibility, honesty, and humbleness. I think humbleness is my preferred one, a truly important characteristic!”What do customers value most about ARMEDANGELS and your products?“That we stick to our principles and always evolve. We try to do better, and if we know better, we do better.” Where do you think the brand will be in five years? “I would love to see a change in the business model – I wish to see more repairs, more care, more community creation, and more activism.”  What does the future of fashion look like to you? “I wish to see more diversity, more inclusivity, and less doing business-as-usual.” How do you stay optimistic and persistent in the fight against climate change?“By telling people what the actual challenges are and also the solutions. It is not about using a renewable straw or cutting plastic bags. It is the moving-of-the-masses. It is calling out CEOs and politicians, a collective approach, and collective energy. That’s what keeps me persistent.” What’s a recent change you have made to be more sustainable? “Well, this might sound crazy, but I am learning to knit socks which I can repair myself.Do you have a pro tip for extending the lifecycle of your wardrobe? “Yes, and it’s super-easy! Follow the care instructions on the care label and try to fix and repair your clothing yourself. We can do this!” Thanks for chatting with us, Lavinia!
We see a future where all clothing is worn, by eliminating unsold inventory and changing the way clothing is created and sold. On this journey towards a smarter fashion industry, we’ve teamed up with Good On You – the leading source for fashion brand sustainability ratings – to highlight brands on our platform that go the extra mile to be more sustainable. We are looking to highlight brands in a positive way and help our customers make more informed choices.Good On You pulls all brand information together and uses expert analysis to give each brand an easy-to-understand score. Otrium’s conscious filter is a great way to help our members to make more conscious choices. We’ve been taking the time to chat to the conscious-rated brands on our platform about sustainability, a circular economy and more. Dive in. First up, we chat to the team from Closed – a contemporary design brand that creates quality looks to stand the test of time. The word “sustainability” is thrown around a lot. What does it mean to you?“Sustainability has always been something we care about at Closed. Even before it was a buzzword or a trend – because, of course, we care about our planet. Always have, always will. We’re continuously making our processes as sustainable as possible – with our own eco-denim line A BETTER BLUE, sustainable materials and short transport routes (85% of our products are made in Europe, close to our main markets). We have been working for decades with most of our production partners. We are a member of the Fair Wear Foundation. We try to lower our carbon footprint where we can – and we care about animals. We stopped using fur in 2014 and do not use angora or down. We use recycled paper for our packaging and most of our printed goods – and would never throw away or destroy unsold Closed items.Step by step, we’re taking Closed towards a greener future. Our goal is to produce our collections with less of an environmental impact, while never compromising our high quality. Fortunately, these two values often go hand in hand. By making high quality our priority ever since the beginnings of Closed, a lot of our processes have been clean and green since the early 1980s. Long before the concept of sustainability became an (important!) trend. A good starting point, but nothing to rest on. Another thing we take as a given is social responsibility. It’s extremely important to us to be fair. Ever since our beginnings in 1978.”Tell us more about your brand philosophy and what you stand for… “Contemporary design and uncompromising quality – that has been Closed’s mission since it was founded in 1978. We’re the company with a unique creative DNA drawing heavily on its own European heritage – French imagination, Italian craftsmanship and German tradition. Influences that have left their mark and have come to define each and every one of our products. In partnership with teams of international experts, Closed now produces collections for both women and men: ready-to-wear, footwear, accessories and, of course, jeans. All produced with care and minimal environmental impact, under fair conditions and in compliance with the strictest ecological standards. Because, as we mentioned, sustainability has always been one of Closed’s key values.” Where did the journey of the brand start?“Closed was founded by Marithé and Francois Girbaud in France in 1978 as a denim brand – with the goal to produce high-quality jeans in Italy. Today, every pair of Closed jeans is still 100% made in Italy.” You’ve got a lot to be proud of. But what’s your favourite achievement? “We are very proud of our eco-denim line A BETTER BLUE. We developed it in 2018 together with two of our long-standing denim partners in Italy. A BETTER BLUE jeans are made in Italy using sustainable materials, eco-friendly dyeing methods and gentle washing techniques. In the production process for each pair of A BETTER BLUE jeans, considerable amounts of water, chemicals and electricity are saved – without compromising our signature high quality. All A BETTER BLUE jeans are climate-neutral products.” And what are you working on at the moment?“We have already switched from conventional to more eco-friendly materials and techniques for many of our products – for example, by increasing the volume of organic cotton in use, by using recycled materials (e.g. cotton, nylon, wool, cashmere), vegetable-tanned leather and plant-based dye. Whenever possible, we are introducing even more sustainable fabrics and techniques. We are also looking into innovative solutions towards a circular economy.” What’s your biggest challenge on the roadmap of improvements?“It’s very important to us to keep our high standards – in terms of quality and fashion. Sometimes, this can be more difficult when using sustainable materials or techniques. We have experimented with several plant-based dyes, for example, until we found one with great colour fastness.”It must make it all worth it when you get great feedback. What’s the best feedback you’ve had?  “We are lucky to receive a lot of nice feedback from our customers, but it’s always especially great when they tell us about their Closed jeans that they bought decades ago and still love to wear!”What do customers value most about your brand?“The high quality of our products. Our style hits the spot between contemporary and timeless and our sustainable and fair ethos. (At least we hope so!)” Any tips for more sustainable shopping?  “We recommend thinking about every purchase carefully. Ask yourself: will I wear this garment 10, 20, 30 times? Will I still love it next year? Is it easy to combine? It’s simply not sustainable to buy clothes you’re not going to wear as the seasons and years go by.”
At Otrium, we’re building a future where all clothing is worn, by ridding the world of unsold inventory and changing the way clothing is created and sold. On this journey towards a smarter fashion industry, we’ve teamed up with Good On You – the leading source for fashion brand sustainability ratings – to highlight the labels on our platform that go the extra mile to be more sustainable, helping our customers make more informed choices.Good On You assesses all of a brands’ information and uses expert analysis to give each label an easy-to-understand score; allowing our members to be more conscious whilst shopping. We’ve been taking the time to chat to the like-minded, conscious-rated brands on our platform about sustainability, a circular fashion economy and what makes them tick! Next up in our Conscious Series, we spoke with the amazing team at LANIUS – a sophisticated, slow-fashion brand built on the foundation of fair, sustainable production. So… sustainability, what does it really mean to you?From my point of view, sustainability is an ongoing, forward-looking process with respect towards people, animals, and the environment.When we talk about ‘sustainable fashion’ at LANIUS, we mean a triangle of fair production, natural, high-quality fabrics, and sophisticated trends. Every part of the triangle requires us to not stand still and keep asking questions such as “Is there a newer material on the market that’s even more sustainable?” “How can we reduce our carbon footprint even further?” “Which fashion trends do we want to follow, which trends are too fast to become sustainable options in our closets?”. Sustainability in fashion is a challenging, yet super-interesting field that keeps us up and focused every day.Tell us a little more about the LANIUS philosophy, what do you stand for?This understanding of sustainability lies at the core of LANIUS. In our headquarter in Cologne, we design two collections each year. Our slow fashion combines high-quality, sustainable materials with sophisticated design. Every piece of clothing is made to last – which is why we shifted our marketing focus to the lifecycle of a garment last year. With our new CARE – REPAIR – RESELL program we want to encourage our customers to take good care of their clothing and enhance a garment’s lifecycle to the maximum.How did your brand journey begin?It all began in 1999 with an idea my mother Claudia Lanius had: making fashion under fair conditions, creating something beautiful, and feeling good about it.You’ve done some pretty incredible things as a label so far, but what achievement are you most proud of?Besides our new CARE – REPAIR – RESELL program, I am proud that we started actively working on reducing our carbon footprint two years ago. In cooperation with the experts from ClimatePartner, we determine the CO2 emissions of our company’s business activities at the Cologne location and the production of our entire collection every year and offset them via a climate protection project.Are you working on anything exciting at the moment?In addition to offsetting our company’s carbon emissions, we actively work on reducing our calculated carbon footprint by keeping our value chains as short as possible, using climate-friendly transportation such as trains or ships for our goods and by using environmentally friendly materials of controlled organic origin that produce less CO2. One current outcome is our first completely vegan sneaker that will launch this spring. Our next big steps will be to show our customers the entire supply chain of each product and to dive into circularity. What is your biggest challenge on the roadmap of improvements?There are many challenges I can think of – the biggest, I believe, is educating ourselves as consumers to refocus on what we really need and take better care of the things we already own. Regarding LANIUS, we have to reevaluate every season which designs we want to produce and how to make each garment as long-lasting and sustainable as possible.Well, your customers would say you’re clearly more than up to the challenge! What do you think they value most about LANIUS and your collections?We have many loyal customers that have accompanied us for many years now. Their feedback is pretty much always the same: it’s the really high quality of our natural materials and sustainable way of working.Do you have a parting pro tip for making your most-loved pieces last?Take good care of each garment as proper care can significantly extend its lifespan. Knitwear made from wool should, for example, be stored folded instead of hanging on a clothes rack as it would lose its knitted fit. Also, wool should be washed as rarely as possible and then at low temperatures by hand with a special liquid detergent only. My tip: instead of washing your favourite sweater just give it a good amount of fresh air overnight. Amazing, thanks for chatting with us!