Hong Kong based sustainable fashion label A.C.F Fashion Refinery, which has made a name for itself on the global scene thanks to its gender-neutral aesthetic, has just partnered up with eco-friendly sneaker brand Allbirds to create bespoke staff uniforms for its retail stores all around the world. This signals that more businesses are now investing in greener operations, especially as consumers are caring about sustainability more than ever before.
Founded in 2016 in Hong Kong as a consumer brand, A.C.F Fashion Refinery has since broadened to serve a gap in the market – contemporary, sustainable and durable industry uniforms from the F&B to the retail sector. It is a full-service concept that helps companies design, develop and produce ethical and eco-conscious uniform solutions that are plastic-free, use recycled and “deadstock” upcycled fabrics that are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.
Now, the company is collaborating with global footwear brand Allbirds – a B-Corp, carbon-neutral shoe maker known for its choice of natural materials such as eucalyptus tree fibre and sugarcane -to create a line of staff uniform shirts and jackets for all of their stores worldwide. This follows an initial trial partnership that saw Allbirds purchase a few pieces from A.C.F’s existing collections for the launch of its London retail location.
Speaking to Green Queen about this new milestone, founder and CEO of A.C.F Alexandra Foster said: “We’re excited to work further with Allbirds to explore creative and alternative partnerships between our two brands, since we align in our ethos, aesthetic and ethical responsibilities. It’s very exciting.”
Echoing the enthusiasm over the partnership, Project Lead of Retail Operations at Allbirds Leah Harakawa said that working with A.C.F had been seamless: “We have had a really positive experience working with ACF on [the] uniforms for our stores. Alexandra was amazing at working with us with our modifications to the design and as an intermediary between us and the factory. There were many iterations, but ACF was awesome at staying on top of everything!”
A.C.F is unique in the mainstream fashion industry, where commitment to sustainable practices across the supply chain, though gaining in popularity, remains hard to come by – especially when it comes to producing commercial uniforms and staff garments.
20% of global textiles used to produce clothing ends up as off-cut fabrics, and A.C.F. has committed to working exclusively with this “deadstock,” that would otherwise end up in landfills as waste. The company also regularly visits manufacturing partners to ensure responsible operation practices and that employee’s rights are being protected, which is all the more important given the recent scandals of abuses that have embroiled global brands such as Lululemon.
A.C.F previously worked with Maximal Concepts, the Hong Kong restaurant group best known for concepts such as Mott 32, Brickhouse and Limewood, to create a sustainable line of staff uniforms using only 100% recycled and reclaimed surplus fabrics. In addition, A.C.F will also be working with another Hong Kong F&B group, Ce La Vi to create sustainable uniforms with incorporating unique designs for each of their locations in Shanghai, Dubai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Thanks to a push by consumers demanding eco-friendly alternatives, companies are realising that they must make changes and green their operations to stay relevant. According to a recent report by the Center of Sustainable Business (CSB) at New York University, sustainability-marketed products experienced a significant spike in sales across every product category.
In the fashion sector, mostly thanks to the younger generation, second-hand and sustainable clothing is on the rise from preloved luxury to thrift. The consumer apparel industry is increasingly eco-forward with shoppers expecting businesses to demonstrate sustainable commitments.
Commenting on this change, Foster said that more companies are now “wanting to incorporate sustainable elements into their businesses, which we’re so happy to see – it is motivating to see the change in their priorities.”
Lead image courtesy of A.C.F Fashion Refinery.