Everlane founder says time is sustainability’s largest cost

Michael Preysman, Everlane

Michael Preysman, Everlane

The biggest cost in the fashion industry’s bid to move towards a more sustainable supply chain is time, said Michael Presyman, founder and CEO of Everlane, at the Remode conference in Los Angeles this week.

The direct-to-consumer business, which has always focused on transparency, says its various progresses in sustainability have resulted in a real cost increase of 10-15% on individual products. This is something Everlane absorbs directly rather than putting on the consumer, Preysman noted.

Where he sees a key challenge, however, is in the time such innovation takes to get to market. It took the company two years to develop four new fabrics, he explained.

“We have to go out and source new materials, but those materials aren’t generally available in sustainable ways right now,” he commented. For those companies developing thousands of SKUs, getting to where we need to get to isn’t therefore an overnight fix.

Innovation is needed, but much of that also needs to come from driving change with the suppliers, he explained. “At the end of the day, we don’t own the supply chain, so we have to find partners doing the right thing and push them forward.”

His team is focused on both “moving the supply chain forward all the time, and offering a better sustainable product”. It’s impossible to have enough time if you’re not laser focused on what you want to do, he added.

He also explained that the industry needs to look at how to take such sustainable efforts back to the consumer. “Our job is to educate them on what they didn’t know existed,” he said, emphasizing the role of storytelling and transparency. “If we educate them, they in turn put the pressure back on us.”

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