A few years ago, Eileen Fisher ran a campaign for their take-back program called Green Eileen with the bold tagline "We'd Like Our Clothes Back Now Thanks Very Much". This concept was created out of trying to reduce textile waste and preserve the value of their clothes at every stage. Customers were encouraged to return no longer used Eileen Fisher garments to their retail locations for a second life. Currently known as Renew, this concept grew to further encourage circularity in design by collecting and sorting garments depending on their condition. Members of the NYC Fair Trade Coalition had the opportunity to experience this process with a tour of the Renew facility led by Cortnee Gentile, the Inventory Operations Specialist, located across the train tracks from Eileen Fisher's corporate headquarters overlooking the Hudson River in Irvington, New York. At Renew, clothing is sorted and can be repurposed in the following ways: Garments in excellent condition are dry-cleaned, organized by season and style and added to their ever-growing stock inventory or as a garment library. Damaged items are laundered and further sorted by fabric type and color to recreate one of a kind pieces at their Resewn design studio. Smaller remnants of fabric are collected to recreate new material using customized felting technology. Trims, such as zippers and buttons, are saved and reused, as well. Customers can also have their love-worn garments mended and returned to them free of charge. Garments that have been donated but in need of mending are marketed as "Not Quite Perfect".
To conclude, it was amazing to see how the Renew team works harmoniously in solving a significant waste problem in the fashion industry, one garment at a time. After the tour, a renewed sense of possibility and hope was sparked within us. Eileen Fisher is not only one of the leading pioneers in striving for sustainability and circularity in design, but an inspiring story of seeing the continued value of things we thought was once lost.