The TAG Toolset: Why our DTC fashion brand built our own sustainability measurement tools

How do you sustainably transform a brand?

Adore Me did not start as a fashion brand with sustainability at its core. We readily (and not proudly) admit this.

  • There is a perfection bias: Things are built from the perspective of brands that are already doing well. This is a subtle, but critical point. The tools aren’t built to help brands start from zero create a simple language to help them understand where they are in their journey.
  • Detached from your team: The typical process outlined involved external consultants and processes taking place in very short-term, limited ways. For us, this was a process about empowering our teammates and to make themselves confident in changing their own individual job functions, not filling out a questionnaire, and then moving on.
  • Detached from your product: A common saying at Adore Me is “Bras are hard”. With 20–40 components on average, they represent unique design, procurement, marketing, and customer fit challenges. This extends to sustainability efforts. Organic cotton PJ’s are relatively easy. A bralette is a bit harder. An underwire bra, with metal wiring and plastic clamps, gets even harder. A corset is our white whale! We quickly realized given how different every product and every category is for us, we couldn’t find anything to help us understand and improve our impact across this diversity of products.

The TAG Framework

I’ll start this section with a disclaimer — our team likes acronyms 😀. This is a quick overview of the system we built to measure ourselves. In a series of follow-up posts, I’ll cover specifically how they work and how they’ve already helped the team.

TOP: Transparency in Operational Processes

This is how we understand our own company operations.

  • Data like ‘how well do we sell through our inventory’, how do we manage end of life, what % of recycled packaging do we use, what % of goods are air-shipped from manufacturers, what is our % of renewable energy in our own managed facilities.
  • For the first phase, we honed in on a number of key areas we could readily measure and clearly engage our employees and partners at every level.

AIM: The Adore Me Impact Matrix

This is how we measure the environmental impact in the design and manufacturing of our products. This is the type of data that most consumers are likely thinking about.

  • We answer questions like — what is the raw material used? How can we design products to last longer? What is the water consumption of the product? Are we using recycled fabrics, and if so, what percentage and what type?
  • This has been driving the most company-wide conversation. We regularly refer to products in terms of their AIM score, and speak in seasons, product categories, and even our company as a whole in average AIM scores.

GAME: Green Adore Me Manufacturer Evaluation

This is how we engage with our suppliers to

  • Some of the questions included what sources of energy are used at the factories? How do they handle waste? What environmentally-friendly techniques are they introducing?
  • A major focus of this evaluation is around worker conditions and treatment.
  • Finally, we strongly believe the future of the supply chain is in deeper partnerships, and GAME has already helped us begin much more in-depth conversations with our suppliers around their own plans and futures.

Inclusive Sustainability

I want to end this with a point very important to us. We believe the way sustainable fashion has developed is in a highly exclusionary way. The messaging, the marketing, the price points, and even the visuals cater to a very specific customer.

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