"Fashion is the armour to survive the reality of everyday life."
Founded by Yael Aflalo in end-of-recession Los Angeles, Reformation is officially established thanks to a trip she took to China, where she was so devastated witnessing first-hand the pollution created in the garment-manufacturing process that she decided it’s time she did something about it. Eight years later, a cult following of the brand is gained, and Reformation is now an it girl favourite with celebrity customers such as Taylor Swift, Alexa Chung, Emily Ratajkowski and more.
It’s hard to distinctly describe the brand as sustainably fashionable or fashionably sustainable, because it is obvious that fashion design and sustainability are equally important to them. “Green fashion designers need to make their clothes fashionable for them to be viable. I think a lot of them just don’t give a shit about design. They make something that’s eco, but it looks shit and nobody wants it,” said Aflalo, the fashion-school-dropout-turn-entrepreneur, in an interview with publisher FRANK151.
Targeted at women in their 20s or 30s, Aflalo’s designs are a mixture of bohemia, elegance and rock-and-roll, and they give off natural, sensual but also provocative vibes. The clothes are often cut in classic shapes with a modern twist, and constantly reference the seventies. What adds an intimate feel to it is that all of the pieces have their own personalised names and many belongs in a themed “story”.
These stylish eco-conscious garments went through green processes before they are hung on recycled hangers in the Reformation boutiques in downtown LA, New York and San Francisco (and now pop-up stores in London and Miami!) or sent to your doorstep in recycled packaging.
Starting with sourcing of the fabrics, 40% of the materials they use are vintage or deadstock, which are all originally en route to the landfills, but the Reformation team buy the unwanted and wasted fabrics and give them a makeover and a second life. The rest are all eco-fabrics like Tencel, a semi-synthetic fibre made by Austrian company Lenzing to replicate cotton, and viscose (a viscose blouse requires approximately half of the energy than a cotton top to produce, who knew?)
Yael Aflalo believes that sustainability efforts will only be successful based on how easy they are for people to adopt into their lifestyle; therefore, Reformation is really big on educating their customers about the impact of fashion. They also create a “RefScale” for each of the garments showing their environmental footprints and calculates the waste their supply chain saved compared with most other clothes on the market.
“We are not part of fast fashion. Our design and manufacture process is fast, but we keep the clothes sustainable and they are all limited editions. Also, there’s a cause in what we do,” said Liz McCormick, a Ref “circus cast member” expatriated to the pop-up store in Covent Garden, London.
Apart from their beautifully curated website, the brick-and-mortar shopping experience is also highly valued by Reformation. The store vibe is tasteful but not extravagant, casual but not dismissive. They also incorporate tech into the shopping experience, setting up touch screens for people to flick through their collection look books before seeing the actual garments. “We try to make people want to come in and see the clothes, feel the quality but minimise the fuss at the same time,” McCormick explains.
Reformation is a pioneer in sustainable fashion and a rising star among fashion brands in general, and as Yael Aflalo aspires, it’ll keep “making the world a better place, one dress at a time”.
Meg is a full-time fashion journalism student at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. She moved to London at the age of 18 to pursue her dreams of becoming a writer.