ADAY’s clothes aren’t your fair-weather friend. They’re your constant companion ready to embrace work, travel and exercise–no sweat. How does the brand known for creating timeless essentials also achieve their ambitious sustainability and slow fashion goals?
Read our interview with ADAY founders Meg He, Nina Faulhaber and the heads of Design and Development Amy Adair and Millie Maidens to find out.
Q: Let’s get into plant bae: three cool-weather tops; a turtleneck, tee and tank all crafted from plant based materials featuring one secret ingredient: seaweed. Why is this better than cotton? Rayon? Polyester?
Millie and Nina: Cotton uses a ton of water, rayon is not a great fiber, and polyester can vary vastly in terms of how sustainably its made. When going plant-based, we didn’t want to utilize cotton, so we had to find something much better. Hence our first plant-based fabric is a sustainable MicroModal derived from wood pulp from Beech trees blended with Icelandic seaweed fibers.
The resulting blend of these two super smooth fibers make our fabric super soft. The fun part, versus traditional modal, is that the fabric highlights seaweed as an exciting renewable resource for fashion. Seaweed ecosystems are carbon-negative, and can take up to 20 times more CO2 emissions out of the air than land-based forests.
Q: I knew seaweed tasted wonderful but didn’t realize it was also so magical for our earth. Makes sense to use it for fashion. But does it feel like seaweed?
Amy and Meg: Absolutely not. The yarn derived from dried seaweed acts more as a booster, so no seaweed feels quite yet. The fabric is quite soft, with a silken feel and luxe drape.
Q: I feel positive about wearing something carbon negative. Along this journey for conscious textiles, have you ever come across anything truly interesting? What’s the most unique one?
Amy and Meg: Definitely the Seacell yarn, made with fibers derived from seaweed and wood pulp, is one of the most interesting ones we’ve come across to date. We couldn’t believe it when Millie and Amy first brought in the samples for us to touch, and we were all saying to each other, “This is made with seaweed?” We couldn’t believe how soft and luxe it felt, and immediately we knew we needed to design our new products with it.
Q: For your Waste Nothing Jacket, how did you arrive at using 41 plastic bottles per jacket? Does more bottles equal density, durability, or more fabric?
Millie or Nina: Together with our recycled yarn supplier in North Carolina and our mill in Taiwan we worked on the perfect blend and weight for us specifically. So the starting point was the handfeel of the fabric we wanted as opposed to the bottle count per garment. More bottles can definitely equal more fabric – but I can’t confidently answer your question on density!
Although more dense can but doesn’t necessarily mean more durable. It’s really always a journey to find the perfect blend that’s achieving the balancing act between luxe handfeel, durability, wearability and breathability.
Q: Some of your garments like your Cut it Out pant are “Ultrachlorine Resistant”. What does that mean?
Amy and Meg: The majority of our fabrics have been sourced from the activewear and performance market and all of our fabrics have multiple purposes. The Cut it Out pant fabric was originally produced for the swimwear market, but the team loved the fabric so much we used it across multiple products. Ultra chlorine resistant means you can swim in a chlorinated pool and the chlorine won’t damage the fabric, so you can sit by (or dive into) the pool safely in your Cut it Out 😉
Q: What inspires your to go in a certain direction in your R&D?
Millie and Nina: We are always looking at ways we can improve our products in both sustainability + quality. Our scuba fabric we co-developed with our mill in Taiwan, and we worked together with them to ensure the fabric was the highest quality, with the right amount of shine, soft handfeel and breathability. When deciding to switch the yarns (virgin polyester to recycled polyester) we had to ensure the quality of the recycled polyester would be the same as the previous polyester we were using and that the fabrics would react in the same way. This took about 6 months of fabric development and testing before we were satisfied and switched out the fabrics. We’re working on a number of other initiatives to push innovation and sustainability further along. Watch this space.
Q: Here and watching! What I notice distinctly about ADAY is that you uphold your purpose-built construction techniques while achieving a classic and timeless aesthetic. How do you accomplish this?
Millie and Nina: Our process starts with intentional design which means we ask ourselves a minimalist’s favorite questions such as “do we need this?” and “will it create joy?” We marry beautiful, classic silhouettes with versatility but include only the details that are truly necessary. With each new design, we also ask: How will we make our favourite staples better? How will we make them last?
Instead of following seasonal trends, we spend our time perfecting the pieces our customers love through wear testing, customer feedback and experimentation. This allows us to keep improving each of our pieces so they can be loved even more.
Q: Your products go through eight design iterations before launch. Your award-winning *and* best selling Throw-and-Roll leggings go through a new iteration almost every two months. Can you share about your iteration process and why you think it’s necessary to be so thorough?
Amy and Meg: Our iteration process is possible due to us being a direct-to-consumer brand. It allows us to utilize our direct-to-consumer relationships with our customers for surveys, weartesting and constant feedback. Once we have launched a product we closely monitor at how customers react, and then iterate off that. We know exactly what gets returned and why – and we know what our customers love and what they would like to see improve. We also heavily utlize our weartesting community and an in-house survey to involve them in the iterations and improvements. As we’re set up to do relatively small production runs with short production cycles, we have the ability to act on feedback and can therefore constantly improve and innovate, whilst providing our customers with a fair price point.
Q: Along that…details about ADAY’s supply chain is uber transparent. How do you use your brand to help educate previous generations?
Millie and Nina: Sustainability has always been at the baseline of our mission, with our initial vendors all putting sustainability first. It has also been core to our message, with technical staples that last through the seasons eliminating the need to replace the contents of your wardrobes every season. We find that a lot of millennials actually come to us already aware of our sustainability aspect, and hoping to simplify their wardrobe. But also older generations either have been or are becoming increasingly aware. Some of our customers already are very focused on sustainability and have inspired us to continually challenge our sustainable practices.
Others aren’t as much yet and we it inspires us every day to share what we know with them, help them make better decisions, and together work towards creating a better future.
Q: What do you think of a curated website that features only brands created by people of color, women and/or the LGBTQ+ individuals?
Meg and Amy: We think what you are doing is incredible. We are a team of 100% women with a board of 100% women and are so inspired by each other every day. We are striving towards a great diversity because we think working with people of different colors, genders, backgrounds, preferences and views adds a ton to the diversity of thought. In 2019 we’re definitely looking to continue to look for the best and hire diverse people. Thank you so much for allowing us to share more about ADAY here.
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