L’Estrange is on a mission to simplify the male wardrobe with low-impact materials and a radically responsible supply chain. Their co-founder, Will Green, feels fewer things means fewer decisions, less impact on the environment, and more time to focus on what it is really important. This is why L’Estrange designs a curated, Modular wardrobe with six timeless essentials made to last. When it came to the packaging they use to keep these pieces in pristine condition from their manufacturers in Italy and Portugal to their warehouse in the UK, L’Estrange searched for a packaging solution that would reflect their values of good design and low environmental impact. TIPA’s compostable zipper bags ticked all their boxes, providing excellent protection for their designs and short-term reuse before safe disposal in compost.
TIPA® asked Will Green, Co-founder of L’Estrange about the company’s perspective on design, L’Estrange’s ambitious sustainability goals, and the company’s decision to use TIPA® compostable packaging for their fashion line.
What are L’Estrange’s core design principles?
Our core design principles revolve around one main point – doing more, with less. It’s an essentialist philosophy which drives everything, not only in product but the business decisions as well. The key things that we focus on are:
- Versatility – Items that are comfortable and easy-to-wear, to increase wearability and discourage throwaway culture.
- Longevity – Our clothes are machine washable and we supply people with lifecare information to maximize the life of their garments. This is also where TIPA packaging comes in – our designs with you have been made to be reusable packaging.
- Circularity – We use sustainable materials, offer a repair program, and encourage mindful disposal of garments (we offer our largest discount for anyone who sends off their clothes to be recycled, and not only ours). We design with the planet in mind.
What inspired L’Estrange to start using compostable packaging?
We are constantly looking to reduce our use of plastics, and packaging waste more broadly. We wanted a biodegradable versatile, reusable bag that would safely transport our garments from our factories in Italy and Portugal to our warehouse in the United Kingdom. We then found TIPA which was the perfect solution for this. Not only were we able to find something more environmentally-friendly, but we were able to share this knowledge with our manufacturers and distributors.
What challenges did L’Estrange face when looking for the right packaging?
The main challenge was finding a company who could produce the reusable style we wanted, that was also obviously biodegradable. We want to be able to do more with what was available to us and waste less, but it was difficult to find something that would be of a high enough quality to truly be reusable on such a large scale.
What were the technical qualities TIPA® provided that helped your brand choose compostable packaging?
The zip lock function, and the ability to customize our own design. It looks great and performs exactly like how we need it to.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for fashion brands who want to be fully sustainable?
Reducing the volume of products they sell. Hands down the single biggest issue with the industry is it’s size. The hard part is finding a business model that allows you to grow but not overproduce. Everything needs to be sustainably sourced, but that’s increasingly becoming easier – especially if you’re smaller and starting out.
What is the “first thing” for brands to do when trying to be more sustainable?
Think about the lifecycle of your products. How will it be bought, what is its purpose, when will it be disposed of, how much washing is required. Our pillars of longevity, versatility, circularity are the same pillars I would recommend anyone looks at when conceiving new products.
What is the “easiest thing” for brands to do when trying to be more sustainable?
There are three main things that could be considered ‘easy-wins’:
- Fix their packaging: removing plastics should be a given.
- Production: choose organic and recycled materials – making sure that all of the materials sourced are organic without any use of pesticides or harmful chemicals.
- Marketing: promote a new mindset – slow fashion by supporting smaller independent brands whose values you share – being open and transparent with customers and encourage them to understand their consumer behavior better.
What kind of sustainability initiatives is L’Estrange implementing across its supply chain?
We are working on a few things with the goal to become climate-positive by the end of 2020:
- Renewable or recyclable materials: We produce from only renewable or recycled materials at the moment, and within 8 months all our cotton will be organic.
- Material Innovation: While we believe the key to a sustainable wardrobe is the number of garments you own, we’re always on the lookout for new innovative low impact materials – our latest launch is the Kapok Tee, made from the fiber of the Kapok tree pod, cited to be the most sustainable fiber on the planet because of the low human footprint and water-saving properties associated with it.
- Fully compostable packaging: We’ve invested in fully compostable and reusable packaging across our supply chain and work closely with our European mills and factories to encourage reduction of packaging throughout their processes.
- Refresh program: People tend to throw away clothing due to the natural wear and tear of garments. We are working on a refresh program where our customers will be able to send in their garments that have been naturally worn out and we will refresh them – e.g. re-dying or whatever they need for a bit for life.
- Customer Outreach and Education: Our whole business is oriented around encouraging a shift in perspective to our customers, demonstrating to them the benefits of versatile, slow fashion and elongating the life of their garments. One of our favorite ongoing projects is our ‘With Less Do More’ email series which recommends articles and sources for living an essentialist lifestyle.
Where does L’Estrange see themselves in five years?
We hope to be driving the conversation forwards on what it means to consume in the age of climate and resource limits. We think good design can help change the way we consume as a culture, and if we’re able to bring a meaningful range of essential garments to more and more people, we think that everyone is winning. Fewer products, less impact and more time to focus on what’s important.