How Reformation won over ‘cool girls’ by filling a void left by H&M and Forever 21


  • For the past decade, fashion brand Reformation has aimed to redefine sustainability by building a company with eco-friendly principles at its core.
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  • Business Insider talked with Kathleen Talbot, Reformation’s vice president of operations and sustainability, to learn more about how the “cool girl” brand maintains its sustainable edge.
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  • Fast-fashion brands like Forever 21 and H&M continue to take heat for wasteful practices, including in a 2018 report that found H&M had an estimated $4.3 billion worth of unsold inventory.
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  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Reformation, the trendy eco-friendly clothing brand also known as the unofficial uniform of cool girls everywhere, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

In 2009, Reformation hit the scene not by using sustainability in a marketing campaign like some competitors, but instead by incorporating it as a core tenet of the company.

As Reformation took off, drawing in fans like Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Karlie Kloss, the company proved that sustainability could not only be cool, but also good for business. Reformation’s estimated revenue in 2017 was more than $100 million, and it raised a $25 million Series B funding round in December of the same year.

Read more: This apparel startup fixed the worst part of shopping for clothes in stores – and it could defy retail’s curse

While traditional fast-fashion players like Forever 21 and H&M continue to receive criticism for acting as a catalyst to the 26 billion pounds of textiles that end up in landfill each year, Reformation has looked for ways to turn the process on its head. Part of the company’s success has been in using a quick production process to make changes that prevent waste in real time, Kathleen Talbot, Reformation’s vice president of operations and sustainability, told Business Insider.

“We are a fast-fashion brand. That might seem like an oxymoron, but we’ve actually taken the things that are really innovative and help further sustainability from the fast-fashion model [such as] making limited collection runs and making more of something only after it performs,” Talbot said.

Still, sustainable fashion comes at a cost to the consumer, and Reformation’s price point is significantly higher than its peers. While a shopper can snag a stylish dress at H&M for as low as $9, Reformation dresses range between $98 and $248.

We took a look at how Reformation has become a leader in sustainability, all while maintaining its cult-like following: