Renewable Fashion: Putting An End To Needless Waste In The Apparel Industry

Waste Management

Photo: Pixabay

Every year, millions of items of clothing with only tiny flaws such as fabric tears or broken zippers get thrown away. As a result,14 million tons of textiles are dumped into landfills.

This unnecessary waste horrified serial entrepreneur and environmentalist Jeff Denby, inspiring him to co-found The Renewal Workshop. The new company partners with the world’s best-loved, ethical apparel brands and retailers—including prAna, Toad & Co, Mountain Khakis, and Ibex—to renew their “unsellable” returns, thereby reducing excess inventory and landfill.

In their waterless, state-of-the-art factory in Cascade Locks, Oregon, The Renewal Workshop gives each garment new life as “renewed apparel.” Experts custom repair all the tiny flaws. Then each item is either sold back to the fashion brand or direct-to-consumers at The company is currently preselling renewed apparel items through an Indiegogo campaign. For any product that can’t be renewed, the company responsibly manages the upcycling, downcycling, or recycling in order to optimize the resources already invested in it.

In addition to renewing apparel, The Renewal Workshop uses data to advise its partners on design and production, in order to optimize the value of the resources already invested in their products. “We are creating the infrastructure and business models that will allow for a truly circular system for the apparel industry,” Denby said.

In his role as co-founder and co-CEO, Denby leads the creative side of the business including brand management, product design and development, packaging, e-commerce, and social media. Together with his co-founder, Nicole Bassett, they lead business development and cultivate an intentional culture and management structure based on the concept of self-directed “Teal” organizations.

Denby said that he has been “on a stumbling circuitous route” to his life purpose. He started down it twelve years ago, when he first entered a Chinese factory, which was manufacturing “everything from forks to furniture.” He soon discovered that there was a disconnect between design, brand, marketing, consumer assumptions, and the reality of how stuff gets made. Most businesses were in pursuit of the cheapest possible prices at an acceptable quality. The people making the products were not a consideration.