Edify has created a home for sustainable and ethical clothing and accessories brands to help consumers shop their values.
The way we shopped was already in transition well before the pandemic—Amazon made it easier than ever to “add to cart”, monthly subscriptions like beauty boxes, vitamins, or pet food, reduced the need for the late-afternoon errand on the way home from work.
But the burden of vetting products for their sustainability impact still fell to the consumer. Label reading can be confusing and researching brands can take hours. Enter Edify. The e-commerce destination for sustainable fashion and accessories that launched in November 2020.
It might seem like launching a business in the middle of a global pandemic isn’t ideal, but for Edify founder Rachel Garrett, it was perfectly well-timed.
With people doing most of their shopping online, and so many inspired to support small businesses and those committed to sustainability, Edify cemented itself as a one-stop-shop built around a values system. With Garrett vetting all the vendors and products sold in the shop, it took the guesswork out of the equation. Everything Edify sells meets her strict criteria.
The site lets consumers shop by value, there are six, currently: Made in the U.S., BIPOC-owned, ethical, sustainable, women-owned, and toxic-free.
Edify has been steadily growing, there are now 22 brands on the site, and it’s on track to have 40 by the end of the year.
Garrett says she vets every part of the production process. Brands have to provide fair living wages and clean, safe working conditions at every step of the production process. There are other notable benefits like BIPOC or women-owned brands, or made-in-the-U.S. products, that she gives priority to.
“I was really inspired to start [Edify] for two reasons,” Garrett told Ethos over Zoom. “The first reason is my experience working in the fast fashion industry. And then the second reason is my experience as a sustainable customer.”
The fashion industry’s impact
Garrett says her years working in fast fashion were all about cutting costs on products, no matter the costs to workers or the planet.
“It was becoming glaringly obvious, all of the negative impact that it was having on the planet, the amount of waste that is created, the mass consumption, and also the negative impact that it had on garment workers was the most impactful for me,” Garrett says.
“That really helped me decide that I needed to make a change. I felt like there had to be a better way; like there has to be something different. This is not the way that the fashion industry should be,” she says.
Garrett started doing her own research and discovered a growing number of sustainable brands. But it was a process, with no single destination that made it easy to find brands that represented her six core values.
So rather than leave the fashion industry altogether, Garrett decided to put her skills and passion to good use and help bring change.
The industry certainly needs it. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the fashion industry consumes nearly 100 billion cubic meters of water every year—that’s enough for five million people.
It’s also the leading producer of wastewater, making about 20 percent of global wastewater through fabric treatment and dyeing.
The industry produces about 10 percent of all carbon emissions, which is more than aviation and maritime emissions combined.
Enormous amounts of fashion are now overcrowding landfills; in the last 20 years, Americans have doubled their clothing waste to more than 14 million tons per year.
“I felt like there were really powerful people out there doing amazing things for the industry,” Garrett says. I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to create more good, less harm.”
Edify capsule collection
In March, Edify launched its first private label capsule collection, with all products made in Southern California, where the company is based. The capsule is all about “having less and living more,” says Garrett. “It’s about encouraging mindful consumption rather than mass consumption.”
The collection includes a graphic tee designed by a local artist. It bears the phrase “Live More,” an ethos close to Garrett’s heart. A crochet tote bag is made by hand by two sisters in college. “It’s a nice size. It fits all of your things. You can wear it to the farmers market or the beach, you can throw your water bottle, your wallet, whatever you need in there,” says Garrett.
A nod to the unofficial pandemic uniform, the Edify spring collection features an organic cotton lounge set, which sells for $122.
“I really wanted to create an organic set that felt like it was at a price point that was a little more achievable for everyday customers like myself,” says Garrett. “That can still be hard to find done sustainably. But it’s a start.”
For more information, visit Edify’s website.