This is quite possibly the brand I’ve been more excited to talk about than any other thus far: Girlfriend Collective. This is not because they do bigger, better things than many of the other ethical and sustainable labels we love, but because they do things so inventively. If you aren’t familiar with Girlfriend Collective, it’s essentially the sustainable answer to an Outdoor Voices or Lulu Lemon, except even simpler. They specialize in leggings, legging-style workout shorts, matching workout tops, and that’s about it. They have a small skew of colors and styles that are different but not too different, giving the brand a really cohesive, pastel-like athletic look that I’m personally a huge fan of. I have two of their leggings and tops sets, and they’re all that I packed for workouts this leg, and I’ve been so happy with them. They’re breathable in the heat, the tops can double as a piece to wear with long skirts or high-waisted jean shorts, and they dry super easily if you’re hand-washing as you travel (which we’ve had to do more and more this leg because finding a laundromat in rice-paddy country is next to impossible).
But even though there’s a lot of workout gear out there, and even a lot of consciously-made workout gear out there, Girlfriend Collective starts to really stand out when you look at how they’re doing what they’re doing. I love the mindful details behind this brand so much that I’m just going to jump right in and make this post all about them:
These pieces are made out of thread created from recycled plastic bottles. If you’re familiar with the sustainability sector of the fashion industry, this isn’t that shocking of a method (which is kind of a great thing, more and more people are adopting this lately). BUT what you might not know is that a lot of recycling plants offering up their once-bottle-threads are a little bit shady, and buy up unused plastic bottles because they’re easier to convert than bottles that people have actually drank from and then recycled. Girlfriend Collective educates their audience on this issue on their site, and actively sought out a partner in Taiwan (a recycling leader on the world-stage) that stands up against this practice and keeps meticulous records on where their recyclables come from.
What’s even cooler about Girlfriend Collective, though, is what they do with their “waste water”. In the dyeing process of the garment industry, a lot of water becomes toxic and can be dumped into local rivers or streams, which goes onto contaminate local drinking water and farmlands and can even cause astonishing rates of cancer in local populations. A more acceptable method for getting rid of this unfortunate byproduct of the fashion industry is to take that water to a landfill (this is even what most sustainable companies do). But Girlfriend Collective took things further here, as well, and actually has their waste water processed and separated into dyes and clean, safe water. The safe water is released and the dyes are sent to a cement facility, where they’re mixed up and used to pave sidewalks, improving local communities. That kind of ingenuity is what really made me fall in love with this brand. They aren’t just out to do good, they’re out to do the greatest amount of good possible.
What’s more, Girlfriend Collective abides by a strict set of criteria for keeping their workers safe, offering wages 125% higher than the local average, feeding their employees two free meals a day, and providing free health care and check-ups. This brand is pretty well known across the board these days, which really proves that you can be an economic success while simultaneously holding yourself to the highest code of morality. It’s an example that I’m so grateful exists, as I know they’re one of those brands that have inspired a lot of up-and-comers within this sector of the fashion industry.
If you’re in need of some new workout gear, or know someone who is, this is a great, conscious option. Or even just tell your friends about their methods for staying sustainable. This brand is a conversation flint-stone, and I’m a big believer that the more casual talk there is in the air about innovative, interesting ways to do good, the more good there will be done and the more thoughtful people will become.
*Thank you to Girlfriend Collective for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions remain our own.