Well Made

Ep. 141 Keeping clothing out of landfills with Kristy Caylor

March 4, 2021 · RSS · Apple Podcasts

When you order a Take Back bag from For Days, you fill it with old clothes (in any condition, from any brand), ship it back to them, and they give you store credit. But behind that very simple exchange is a complex supply chain that's built on circularity. 

When founder Kristy Caylor learned that on average, each person in the US sends 70 pounds of fabric to the landfill, it was an epiphany. If you think about how to shrink your annual pile of unwanted clothes, donation, resale, and repair may come to mind. But Kristy was concerned about the items that don't have a place in any of those reuse streams, which is why For Days is focused on basics. There are no greener pastures for your old t-shirts, socks, and underwear — that is until now. 

For Days launched with an in-house recovery facility where they receive, source, and grade each item they collect from their takeback program. Depending on the condition and fabric of an item, For Days will rejuvenate it for sale on their site, or ship it to downcycling partners. In this episode, Kristy talks about what it really takes to build a circular fashion brand, how to motivate consumer behavior changes, and where brands need to invest to accelerate real industry progress.

“We'll give you credit for anything. We don't care if it's ripped, stained, stretched, written on, cut. It doesn't matter. We'll take it back. And so I think there's this insurance policy built in with our system that is actually encouraging utilization.”

 Keeping clothing out of landfills
 Keeping clothing out of landfills
Screen Shot 2021 03 03 at 12 49 03 PM

Kristy shares how her engineering background led her to fashion, and her leadership roles at Gap Inc, then she jumps right into what circularity means (especially in relation to recycling) (2:47). She shares how her industry learnings at Gap brought out her passion for a more sustainable supply chain, even before sustainability was en vogue. 

Resale and repair are great solutions for extending the life of apparel, but worn out t-shirts, socks, and underwear aren't contenders for reuse. That's why, Kristy said, For Days is focused on basics (10:10). She talks about building a takeback program from the launch of the brand and how it's crucial that the behavior change is a value add for the customer instead of a challenge.

Kristy breaks down their in-house sorting operation and the complexities and constraints around fiber-to-fiber recycling (12:36) and she announces the launch of For Days's new virtual closet functionality which makes it easier to track your swaps (19:48).

She dives more into the step-by-step of their in-house operation (24:09) and how they approach transparency when it comes to sharing their progress with customers (29:05).

While the industry still has a long way to go, Kristy calls out some of the improvements she's seen from brands, and why she looks to tech for more takeback innovation (34:40). She talks about why they moved away from a subscription model and focused more on building loyalty via circularity (41:18). To wrap things up, Kristy shares the company goals for 2030 and reflects on positive learnings that they're taking away from 2020 (42:46).


Also mentioned in this episode: 

Innovative brands use Lumi to manage scalable and sustainable packaging.

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