Episode 105
April 26, 2019

Deliciously Sinful - Brand Sustainability in the Age of Impulse Luxury

Ingrid Milman (Ann Taylor, LOFT) sits in this week in our Earth Week deep-dive to discuss sustainability, transparency in supply chain, and "deliciously sinful" luxury impulse buys.

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Ingrid Milman (Ann Taylor, LOFT) sits in this week in our Earth Week deep-dive to discuss sustainability, transparency in supply chain, and "deliciously sinful" luxury impulse buys. Who has the true influence on the eco-conscious purchase decision - the brand or the consumer? How can fashion lead the conversation in transparent supply chain and manufacturing processes? Featured brands this week: Outdoor Voices, Rent the Runway, Reformation, H&M, Allbirds and more. Listen now!

Show Notes:

Main Takeaways:

  • Director of Digital at Ann Inc, Ingrid Millman, is co-hosting this week.
  • Earth Day has turned into Earth Week and, there are lots of sustainability stories to share.
  • Can rental Services like Rent the Runway find a way to make dry-cleaning more eco-friendly?
  • Instagram ads somehow turned Phillip into a sneakerhead.

Earth Day Becomes Earth Week: Capitalizing on Saving The Planet:

Everything is Re-sellable in 2019: People Are DIYing Marie Condo:

  • Ingrid is obsessed with the Marie Condo effect and the results from its popularity.
  • There's been a surge in the number of people utilizing both physical thrift stores, and online platforms like Poshmark, thredUP, and luxury re-sell platforms like The RealReal.
  • Ingrid points out that there needs to be a change to the way these resell platforms operate: namely that there needs to be more of a focus on creating solutions for their customers. As of now, there's not a lot of value proposition outside of general resell.
  • Phillip doesn't know if he trusts the resale market, and questions if perhaps if companies are posing as third-party sellers.
  • Phillip also blames Instagram for turning him into a sneakerhead, because Instagram forces him to buy an insane amount of sneakers through their targeted advertising.
  • Has retail followed more of a meme culture than an influencer culture?
  • Ingrid makes a fascinating point: Many people develop their actual sense of style in High School and/or college, but they cannot usually afford to outfit that style entirely, but people in their 30's are targeted by luxury brands more because they have a wholly different purchasing power, and now can make "deliciously sinful" luxury purchases.

Sustainability as a Search Term: Will Legacy Brands Adapt?

  • Ingrid has noticed a trend with Google search terms, including sustainability, cotton fiber, dress garments, and for some reason the brand Free People.
  • Phillip poses a question regarding sustainability: Do consumers care about sustainability because of the PR push that the brands they trust are putting out? Or are brands increasing their PR around sustainability because they know their customer care about it?
  • Ingrid makes a great point that GenX and anyone near that age group cares less about sustainability because it's not on their radar, as opposed to millennials (and anyone under 35), who may make sustainability a key focus of their purchasing choices.
  • If legacy brands want to pick up a younger customer, then they are going to have to put a much larger focus on sustainability efforts.
  • This is especially true considering how many younger brands are beginning their brands with eco-friendly products like Allbirds.

Earthday 2019: Brands Are Stepping up Sustainable Efforts:

Go over to Futurecommerce.fm and give us your feedback, or you can reach out on Instagram, Twitter, or any of our social channels. We love hearing from our listeners and hearing your thoughts on current trends in retail.

And you can reach out to Ingrid on Instagram at → ing_stagram

Retail Tech is moving fast and Future Commerce is moving faster.

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Phillip: [00:00:49] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Phillip, and today we have a second time guest and subbing in for Brian today. Ingrid Millman, the Head of Digital at Ann Inc. Say hello, Ingrid.

Ingrid: [00:01:34] Hi, everyone.

Phillip: [00:01:37] Hi, what are you working on these days? It's only been a month or so since you've been on the show. So just remind us all what you do over it Ann.

Ingrid: [00:01:47] Sure. Yeah, so I am overseeing... We just launched our new loyalty program, which is super exciting. It's called All In and All Rewards. And the idea is that it actually is the first linkage between Ann Taylor, Loft, our outlet and factory brands. So Loft, Outlet and Ann Taylor factory stores, as well as our kid sister brand, well not kid sister, I would say our younger cooler sister Lou and Grey brand. And it basically just gives you rewards for spending money across the entire portfolio. That's been really exciting to launch, and it's started off really strongly.

Phillip: [00:02:30] Oh, cool. That's sort of the next generation of omnichannel is sort of keeping your customer engaged across all the family of brands.

Ingrid: [00:02:43] I would definitely say so, yes. And we do recognize that our loyalty customers are by far our most valuable customers because they're shopping in store, they're shopping online, and they're also been shopping across the portfolio.

Phillip: [00:03:01] Awesome. Well, we're excited to have you on the show. Thanks for coming. And I think you had a little disclaimer to give right at the top.

Ingrid: [00:03:07] Yes. So I want to be able to speak freely and authentically, and so all of the things that I say are entirely of my professional opinion and no reflection of Ann Inc or a Ascena brands.

Phillip: [00:03:23] Well done. {laughter} Well, great. Well, welcome back. I thought today we would, you know, sort of we'll find a central theme, I'm sure. And there's a lot of news probably along the central theme. I wanted us to kind of focus on sustainability in retail and sort of the story that, you know, kind of is connecting today. This week is Earth Week. Earth Day is now expanded to occupy an entire week. And, you know, like anything in good old traditional capitalism, we've made a purchasing holiday out of it and product launches, and we found a way to capitalize on saving the Earth. God bless.

Ingrid: [00:04:05] Totally.

Phillip: [00:04:05] But there was a couple stories that sort of caught my eye. One, this week that kind of came up was, well, Rent the Runway is now a unicorn, which is really cool. And they had a story that came out this week on Business Insider about, well, I think Rent the Runway would probably position themselves as a sustainable retail brand.

Ingrid: [00:04:29] Yeah, I actually love Rent the Runway. I think that I've used Rent the Runway before they had like the unlimited, where you just subscribe and get clothes, but I would would rent dresses from them all the time and have been for years and just thought it was such a great solution to this problem that you want to dress up and you want to be able to look great. But then, gosh, you can never wear that dress again because everyone has seen you. And then especially in the social media world, I'm like, Oh God, this is now on my Instagram feed for the rest of time. And of course, I can never wear this again.

Phillip: [00:05:09] That's really funny.

Ingrid: [00:05:09] So shout out to Rent the Runway for fixing that problem for us.

Phillip: [00:05:12] Right. I don't have that problem with dresses in particular. But it fills a real, a real gap in the marketplace and I guess their take on the sustainable approach, and well, their spin this week anyway, is they're driving down wasted purchases or discarded garments and less waste overall in fashion by creating reusable and more loved goods that are accessible to more people. And now with an unlimited plan, more accessible now than ever.

Ingrid: [00:05:50] Yeah, yeah. I again, I think that they're great and I think that they do so much good for fashion and even just luxury fashion brands that have been a little bit undercut, I would say, by these fast fashion brands that now like Zara, something walks down a runway. And then within two weeks, it's like in the store window at Zara and you're like, "Ok, well, I guess that's my proprietary design work out the window. But the one, I have a nit to pick with the sustainability thing that they're doing at Rent the Runway, if I may.

Phillip: [00:06:29] Please.

Ingrid: [00:06:29] So the dry cleaning. There's so much dry cleaning that goes into rentals, and you're certainly because they're a wear once or where a couple of times and then send them back your dry cleaning at a far more. So I'd love for them to as a next phase of their brand evolution in terms of sustainability, look into some more green dry cleaning.

Phillip: [00:06:55] Wow, no, that's interesting. I had never, ever thought about that, and that's actually really brilliant. There's been some interesting articles, I think one over on Fast Company. We'll link it up in the show notes. But you know, this idea of Rent the Runway being this intersection of like the Uber of clothes, but also it's the Uber of dry cleaning in that they have to work with a lot of... For them to own their own dry cleaning at scale and in all the markets that they service is no small accomplishment or a no small feat. So they have to partner with local business owners and local outfits who do that as well. And that's, man, you've really touched on something. So that is an interesting nit to pick. You know, it doesn't seem to be a problem in its valuation. So they just raised 125 million in a latest round of fundraising from Franklin Templeton Investments and Bain Capital. Those are names you hear a lot in late stage venture capital. So what's really interesting is so the total it's raised to date has been 337 million, and it adds 200 million of credit facility from an August raise. And that brings it to a billion dollar valuation. And so the latest female founded unicorn Jennifer Hyman, you know, created yet another unicorn that's in this space. I feel like they're coming every week. Now we see a new billion dollar valuation, which is interesting. I think, you know, I'd love to see some of these follow the Stitch Fix IPO model. I'd like to see more of that. I think this is the right economic climate for it, but I'm not that sort of a pundit, so I couldn't dive into the financials, but I think it's interesting.

Ingrid: [00:08:52] Yeah, I do, too. It's funny thinking about the brands that have been private for so long and have continued raising funds while also moving toward scalability and things like that. I think because of the regulations that are happening or that have been imposed on public companies, it's like, I don't even know what the incentive is anymore to go public for these private companies. So I think like obviously you see Uber and Lyft and Airbnb just filed for their IPO, but I think there's a lot more that have lived for a much longer lifespan as private companies that just continue to raise money without having to even consider IPO yet.

Phillip: [00:09:43] Yeah, I think that there's a lot of... You're spot on. Dodd-Frank and, you know, speaking to people in the angel world who we have close ties to at the show here in particular, like the folks at The Launch, The Launch Fund, which is an angel fund who Jason Calacanis is part of from This Week in Startups fame. And from, you know, investing in early stage investor in Tesla and a bunch of others. Their take is, yeah, there's, you know, being private has a lot of benefits because it's sort of a black box. You're not really sure how these valuations are even being, how they come up with the assessment of what a company is actually worth. I think now hopefully we get a lot more transparency in publicly owned, publicly traded companies, and it's very encouraging to see a lot of technology companies going that way, but to see more, you know, we've seen a lot of Silicon Valley VC backed technology firms in the last three to five years, like you said, have filed for IPO. Some not so successful. So I'd like the Snapchat or Snap's of the world. You know, they're struggling. Although they had a really good earnings beat this last week. It's interesting. I'd like to see more of it. I think I'm keeping my eye mostly on a company like Rent the Runway probably would have been public three years ago in a prior era.

Ingrid: [00:11:03] Agreed. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:11:03] You had an interesting take on brands like ThredUp and those that might be doing real sustainability and promoting real sustainable initiatives in that it's providing real owned goods and peer to peer purchasing. I'm not sure if you wanted to, maybe you could touch on that.

Ingrid: [00:11:21] Sure, I've been super obsessed with this whole Marie Kondo effect. And, you know, I think the success of the best seller and then the subsequent Netflix series like Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. I'm a vintage clothing lover and like a thrift store shopper. And so it's funny when I'm talking to the buyers and all the girls I work there, I'm like, "Is the Marie Kondo effect real?" And they were like, "Girl, you have no idea. This place is just packed to the gills with stuff." And on one hand, it's really cool, right? And then on the other hand, you're like, is anyone going to, is this going to spark joy for anyone trying to buy this? And you know, how do you sort through this? It's this new unique problem. But yeah, so just digging into that a little bit, there's obviously brands. Yeah, so there's a Thredup and a bunch of brands that are more affordable. I think Poshmark has been also in this world and then there's more luxury consignment. So The RealReal and then there's Luxury Garage Sale and both of those categories of upcycling or reselling have just seen this huge surge. And I think, yeah, there's some real, measurable sustainability thoughts to that.

Phillip: [00:12:52] We recently we just the episode... So you were on Episode 95 back in February at E-tail West when you sat down with Brian for an interview. The episode that followed that were also recorded at E-tail West with Chris Homer, who's the CTO of Thredup. And there's this interesting approach of trying to marry the supply and the demand in that world. You would think that there is not enough room for so many of these sort of niche resale marketplaces, but there seems to be a never ending, a ceaselessly growing market for people to resell everything from, you know, watches to sneakers to handbags to now I mean, just about anything. If you open up Letgo, you can find people are diy-ing even Marie Kondo, I think that's an interesting development. What's really interesting to me is when I see friends and family on Facebook and you see the effects of it because they're posting kids with their Easter baskets. But all the Easter baskets are left over shoeboxes because they threw all the Easter baskets away back in January, when they were tidying up, which I Easter baskets didn't spark joy at that early in the season. Are you a consumer of any of those, any of those apps or any of those marketplaces yourself?

Ingrid: [00:14:19] Oh yeah, big time

Phillip: [00:14:23] For vintage apparel or are they slowly getting you to think about using them first for other things, other purchases?

Ingrid: [00:14:31] It is a combination. And I think that one of the things that will hopefully come out of this shift in the marketplace and these types of brands' offerings is they'll become a little bit more solution oriented, right? So like when you go to Thredup, you don't always know specifically what you're looking for. So for example, for me, I can go to Thredup and look for a good luxury brand bag that I don't want to buy a full retail. And then I can also look for like a new with tags Nike trainers, sneakers or sweatpants or something like that. So they haven't quite figured out what their value proposition is outside of just reselling things and offering better deals than retail. But I am definitely a consumer. I think I do have a hard time picking which one I'm going to go to for what, though?

Phillip: [00:15:31] Hmm. Yeah, it's like a new, where Ebay used to be the place to buy everything twenty years ago, Amazon, you know the place to buy anything new now. What's interesting is there is this extreme fragmentation of specific, vertically focused marketplaces, and I don't know that I trust them. And it could just be because, you know, I'm sort of the tail end of Gen X, and I'm stodgy now in my old age. My experience in the sneaker world is I just can't believe that there's so much supply meeting so much demand. You know, I buy a random sneaker that came out two and a half years ago and magically, there's somebody selling it and magically like it's ready to ship. And magically, it shows up at my house three days later. Like, I just have to wonder if there's, you know, these companies have incredible amounts of venture capital behind them. And I have to wonder if they're taking positions on inventory themselves to try to meet some of the demand as first party sellers, but posing as a third party marketplace. But that's me being cynical because I don't know. You know, there's probably a lot of money to gain. If they could hold inventory themselves, they act a lot more like a bank than in that they own securities that they can resell and sit on an appreciating asset as opposed to just a demand generated marketplace. But you know, what do I know?

Ingrid: [00:16:53] Well, no, it's super, like reselling of the sneakers and the dead stock and the sneakerhead culture in general, I think deserves like its whole, its own show and just getting like an actual sneakerhead to come on and talk about what that culture is and how thriving it is. And I do think that there... I've never heard it compared to like a Futures or an equities market, but it actually is really quite similar when you think about it. So I don't think it's particularly cynical. I think it's really smart to think about it that way. And then you start thinking about like the influences that make you want to get that sneaker from two years ago. Like, I think there's work and effort being put behind that that we don't even recognize as consumers, but certainly like part of the whole plan.

Phillip: [00:17:52] If you want an ultra dark take on it, I feel like the reason I became a sneakerhead two years ago was not because I chose to become a sneakerhead. It's because Instagram's algorithm started ramming sneakers down my throat so often that I had no choice. Like it just decided one day because I was part of some sort of a, you know, like I found my way into some lookalike audience on Facebook.

Ingrid: [00:18:15] You're a demographic. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:18:16] Yeah. Now, all of a sudden, like I crossed over into thirty six. Now I'm in the thirty six. You know, now I have to be the dad sneakerhead. And that's you have no choice. And I really feel like maybe that's the thing, because if you look at it...

Ingrid: [00:18:30] For sure.

Phillip: [00:18:30] For sure. You can influence purchase decision. We know that. We do that every day, right? And I think it's really interesting that I think the times where true... Retail has followed more of a meme culture than it has true influence, even though everyone likes to think of themselves like an influencer nowadays, I really believe it's more meme and that we're parroting and resharing things that we see other people doing to be part of the zeitgeist more than we are because we actually like something. If you read, you know, Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point, he talks about three personas of tastemakers. You have the mavens, the people who are the true connoisseurs of something who knows what's hip and what's in. You have connectors and you have the salespeople. And those three people are what truly create fads. And it's why the kids in the West Village were wearing Hush Puppies. And then all of a sudden this whole culture of hipster ism became a thing. That'll never happen again because the algorithm is already in firm control. Anyway. Sorry, I'm doing all the talking. It's such an interesting... {laughter}

Ingrid: [00:19:53] It's super interesting. And it's funny because as a marketer, right, and someone who does create those audiences to try and get people to buy their product, there's certainly like a level of nostalgia and a level of what was really cool and interesting, like when you were in high school or in college, when you were like peak, sort of having a sense, developing your sense of style, developing the tastes that you probably will grow on, but like are sort of creating a foundation for at that point, but don't really have the money to spend at that point, so like as a luxury brand or as a sneaker brand or something like that that's selling something at a premium, you're at like prime picking age, right, because you're finally able to afford that like three hundred dollar pair of sneakers. And now you're like satisfying your high school self.

Phillip: [00:21:01] I resemble that remark, I absolutely identify with that. Have you found, Ingrid, for yourself do you feel like you make impulse purchases of luxury goods now? Is that a thing that happens to you?

Ingrid: [00:21:15] Yes. And I can't tell whether it's just...

Phillip: [00:21:18] No one wants to... It's not a trap. Like no one wants to admit that, but I feel like we've all made, you know, a three to five hundred dollar purchase on a whim because we could. Somebody's done that.

Ingrid: [00:21:28] It feels like deliciously naughty.

Phillip: [00:21:32] {laughter} Oh, I'm going to try very hard not to title the show. Deliciously Naughty. But you're so right. And I think we're enabling it more now than ever, especially with fractionalized payments like, "Oh, you don't even have this. You can pay for it over the next five months." That's so interesting. If I had, let me take a left turn here and kind of get into something else because you had something, I think in the show notes about Google Trends for sustainable clothing search terms.

Ingrid: [00:22:02] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:22:04] How does that play in in your world? Do you do you see customers demanding sort of sustainable materials or supply chain transparency or something of that effect in your experience?

Ingrid: [00:22:20] I will say that we always check our on site search terms and the search terms that are coming to like once you're on the site and then also the search terms that get you on to the site via last click or like a 14 day attribution window.

Phillip: [00:22:36] Sure.

Ingrid: [00:22:37] And I would say that "sustainability" doesn't really make its way in that world. However, there are like macro trends that you can test over time with sustainability, and it's actually fascinating to see. So I'm looking at the past 12 months of Google Trends here and the actual search term of sustainable clothing, and it's really funny because the number one state within the United States for that search term is... Actually I'm going to let you guess this one. What is the number one?

Phillip: [00:23:19] Well, I'm going to say California or New York, right?

Ingrid: [00:23:22] I would have guessed the exact same thing, and those are number two is New York and number three is California. The number one is Oregon.

Phillip: [00:23:32] Oh, well, I mean, it kind of makes sense now that I think about it, but wow, yeah.

Ingrid: [00:23:37] Super interesting. So yeah, and then there's obviously like related topics. So there's like "cotton" "fiber" "dress" "garments" "free people retail company." And that's actually super interesting because they're not really known for their work in sustainability, but it's funny that that is related in the search term.

Phillip: [00:24:55] I feel like so much of sustainability today, though, has has sort of a zeitgeist component to it too. Not that I'm saying that people don't actually care because I believe they do, but I wonder sort of why they care. Do they care because they see big brands starting to support these initiatives? Or is it the other way around? Do big brands support the initiatives because people care? So I could probably rattle off five different brands who have done very big PR pushes around their sustainability efforts like most recently, like Levi's with, you know, hemp cotton or Allbirds, you know, pretty much their entire story is around sustainable products or sourced goods in their supply chain. I'm trying to think of others, but like, that's so interesting. So customers, you know, you probably experience it then like, what do you think a brand, not that you speak for Ann specifically, but what do you think a brand like Ann has to do to adapt to that growing demand? Is it, you know, is that something that your customers are going to care more about as time goes on? Or is that something you're going to have to educate them on and create a new sort of category?

Ingrid: [00:27:09] Yeah, I think it's squarely in a generational mindset, and so I think like my mother's generation of, you know, people who are like over fifty five now don't even fully understand what it is, not everyone but if we're really just lumping them all together like sustainability is just not something that's on their radar. But when you talk to people who are thirty five and younger, it's one hundred percent something that's on their radar. And I would even wager a bet that it was like it would be like top three of their considerations when they're buying brands. So then when you have these more legacy brands or brands that have been around for a much longer period of time than the millennials have been, and if they're at all interested in acquiring this younger mindset and then having them be brand loyal for the rest of their buying lifespan, then I think sustainability is something you absolutely can't ignore from a pure play marketing standpoint.

Phillip: [00:28:24] And I think you had noted there are a bunch of brands who are pioneering that as mainstream sustainability.

Ingrid: [00:28:30] Yeah, so I have been... The first brand that I have been sort of fell in love with and that had a sustainability message is The Reformation. So The Reformation has done the very, I think, impressively difficult task of making sustainability sexy. Their tagline is like, "Being naked is the number one most sustainable option, and we are number two." {laughter} And I would just like this is just brilliant marketing. And then all of their clothes are really just super fashion, really on trend. Definitely. Very like on the side of revealing like, I probably can't wear this to work in a corporate environment. But definitely things that I want to wear on like a date or on a weekend, to an event or something like that. And I think it's cool and they actually are super serious about it. So almost all of the pieces of marketing that come out, whether it's email or on site experience, or on social media, touts some form of information about what the fashion industry does to the environment and what they're doing to help counterbalance that. So whether it is carbon emissions or water usage, so they make it really clear how much water goes into creating a cotton dress or something like that, and they put it into very relatable, understandable terms, but it doesn't sound like preachy or elitist, and it's just like telling you the facts and then showing you like very hot babes in dresses that you want to wear all the time.

Phillip: [00:30:26] And you're right. So instead of sort of this is actually phenomenal. If you go to TheReformation.com and check out the product detail page, it is treated, you know, sustainability information and data on a per product basis is treated like any other product attribute. It's sort of just this is germane to what you care about when you're looking at the product information. And the Starling dress, which, by the way, is only four installments of $49. It's a 13 pounds of carbon dioxide savings or one point two pounds of waste savings. And these are all sort of product, it's product information, it's product data that they're treating as, you know, just every other part of product data. It's awesome. H&M just recently for Earth Day this week announced an initiative to provide supply chain transparency, and I'm going to have to look for specifically where it was. There was an article in Refinery29, I think, earlier today that basically said H&M would be able... In the same way where you might expect, you know, transparency and food labeling for, you know, GMO or non-GMO products, they will be providing things like supplier name, production company, factory name, addresses, and the number of factory workers on a per product basis, which I think is really refreshing as well.

Ingrid: [00:31:59] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:32:02] It's really awesome to watch those types of brands pioneer it because that in the same way that two day shipping became the cultural norm in eCommerce, somebody decided it, you know, I think that's that's what will happen with sustainability as well and transparency in the supply chain. You mentioned some other brands that you feel like we're doing a pretty good job.

Ingrid: [00:32:20] Yeah. So definitely Everlane. One of the things the pieces of collateral that I received as a customer of Everlane was an email that had apologized for being on sale, which I thought was just infinitely brilliant. And they were like, "We will do better to not over buy units, so that we don't need to go on sale. But in the meantime, here are items that are on sale. Sorry about that."

Phillip: [00:32:58] Brilliant.

Ingrid: [00:32:59] Brilliant. Really. It happened like over a year ago, and I still have not forgotten.

Phillip: [00:33:07] Wow. That's like when I forget what it was, I think it was Whistler ran an ad campaign on a one star Google review that said, "This mountain is way too fast." It's like it's maximizing on something that, you know, no, nobody probably would have ever thought of, but amplifying that as part of the marketing, I love that. A brand that came on my radar recently because they had a sale on Hoka One One running shoes because that's my particular brand is Outdoor Voices.

Ingrid: [00:33:41] Yes.

Phillip: [00:33:43] Which I'm sure has been around forever. I'm usually the last to figure out things like this, but they're a tech apparel company.

Ingrid: [00:33:51] Also female founder.

Phillip: [00:33:55] Yeah. They're doing all the right things, it seems. Like I'm really, really impressed by... I'm really impressed by the types of like even from a UGC perspective, you know, very like sort of size inclusive, just it feels it's like a fun everybody is invited to the party sort of approach to a lifestyle brand, if you will.

Ingrid: [00:34:25] Yeah, especially for athletic wear, right? Because who could forget the I know that the leadership that did this isn't there anymore, but Lululemon, I think it all stays in our minds of like when the founder had mentioned that there are only certain types of bodies that fit into that clothing. And I was like, oh that's going to that's going to leave a...

Phillip: [00:34:53] {laughter} Yeah. Speaking of which, you know everyone else for Earth Day is talking about all the ways they're saving the planet. Lululemon today decided they're going to get into sneakers, which is just one more way to destroy the planet, as if we needed anyone else making sneakers. But that's another thing entirely. Not to hate on them. I'm sure they're doing lovely things. Outdoor Voices has a sustainability message. I'm not familiar. Maybe you could bring it to light.

Ingrid: [00:35:17] Yeah. So they have a a particular fabric that is recycled material, so they have I think it's just on their page now, and it's so there's RecPoly or quick drying. It's upcycled from post-consumer water bottles, so it's called RecPoly, and it's a quick drying, wrinkle free material. So there's that. And then they I think have a lot of work that they do with sustainable charities.

Phillip: [00:35:55] There's a on their FAQ. Yeah, they have the RecPoly fabric and they also have, you know, some from Merino. They have some Blue Sign certified, sustainably raised wool. I love that that's part of their FAQ though. Most people are just like, "How do I get my stuff, and how do I give it back to you? And when are you going to give me my money?"

Ingrid: [00:36:14] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:36:15] And that's it's pretty awesome. Actually, I would be remiss if I didn't bring it up. We did have a bonus episode earlier this week for Earth Day proper that talked about Allbirds, and their partnership with the National Audubon Society for their Allbirds sort of count down to Earth Day. But they also created a carbon fund where they've gone to a very a very, very finely grained deep dive and publishing a report around their contribution to carbon emissions everywhere in their supply chain, including estimating the commute of the people that come to work in the office every day.

Ingrid: [00:36:59] Wow.

Phillip: [00:37:00] And if taken that and like, how much carbon does it take to raise a sheep that we harvest the wool from? And they've taken all of that and estimated their carbon footprint for every pair of shoes and every, you know, every silhouette and style, every color way, and they have taken that and they're offsetting carbon emissions by imposing a tax on themselves, which I think is really interesting, and they'll be providing a little more detail in the future as I would hope that they would. You know, it's not just PR. They will be effectively either planning trees as carbon offsets or donating to other organizations that are, you know, doing ocean cleanup or sea plastic harvesting, harvesting that sort of thing as a way of offsetting it and putting that tax to work, which I think is really interesting. And again, they might be setting a precedent for other brands.

Ingrid: [00:37:58] I agree, and I think when we were talking about this initially, the parallel sort of trend in consumer behavior and then ultimately brands capitalizing on this growing consumer interest was the organic foods growth and how that ended up evolving into such a standard thing where now like the biggest proprietor of organic foods is Walmart. And so I'm wondering, and I know that the organic food movement had taken a much longer time to get its time in the mainstream, so it started like in the sixties with hippies and all those like co-op groups and farmers markets and things like that. But then it took like decades to finally blow up and be in places like Target and Walmart, whereas it seems like the clothing sustainability has had a much faster trajectory. And I was wondering what you thought about why that might be.

Phillip: [00:39:08] Yeah, so having put zero thought into it prior to the show, you know, my gut instinct is that we probably wouldn't have the demand on the consumer side without all of the hard work that's gone into the organic food movement and then the non-GMO or the like transparency in how food is grown and sourced and delivered to supermarkets. If we didn't have those things with the awareness of what where does my meat come from or where am I bananas come from? If there wasn't an awareness of that, I don't know that we would have the awareness of how clothing is made. I also think that we're very scandal driven, right? I think people are more aware of sea plastic because they see, you know, a Snapchat of a turtle with a straw in its nose. And I think we have more of an understanding of where our clothes come from when we see children working in factories for Nike.

Ingrid: [00:40:06] Right.

Phillip: [00:40:07] And those are I think it takes those types of moments as part of popular culture and popular awareness for us to realize that all of the convenience in the West comes at a cost. Fast fashion comes at a cost to somebody and whether that's the environment, if that's somebody is later on in a future generation who has to bear the weight of climate change. Or if that's somebody is a minor who's forced to work in a factory. I think we all have to be more culturally aware of what those choices may... It doesn't mean that we can't have them. Maybe we can have those things, but we have to have them in a responsible way. And that's where the consumer demand is being driven from. But that's my sort of shower thought. I'm going to have to give it a little bit of a deeper think. And you know what that comes down to is journalism and freedom of the press. There are institutions that hold people accountable, and we should be very happy that those things exist.

Ingrid: [00:41:16] Yeah. I also think there's like a, on that exact point, I think that there's the not the same level of barrier in fashion in terms of like lobbyists or different groups that are against, let's say, like GMO labeling or all of the things that the organic food or food transparency movement had to overcome I don't think really exist in fashion. Fashion is so consumer driven that if there's even an inkling that that is what is going to drive sales and improve their brand awareness, then they're more willing to do it even if it's not rooted in this like larger purpose.

Phillip: [00:42:07] What's interesting, and this wasn't a story that made it to the show, but we had shared it out on social about a month ago. First quarter numbers came back from the Commerce Department, US Commerce Department and you know, there was this hot take from CNBC that eCommerce overtook retail sales in the United States 51 percent to 49 for same period in-store brick and mortar sales, which, by the way, everybody thinks is a bunch of hooey. Although it makes for a great headline, it just depends on how you count the numbers. But what leapt off the page to me was that something like 27 percent of of the economy of all retail is what we think of as retail and what we talk about all the time. What we don't think about as retail are things like, you know, general grocery or automobile sales. And those are, you know, we're talking about a small subset of the entire economy and smaller still when you talk about big lobbying organizations like the National Retail Federation, who is very important we all love and please invite me to go speak at your conferences.

Ingrid: [00:43:19] Me, too. Me, too.

Phillip: [00:43:20] Exactly. Yeah, we're both waiting for the call. Those things are all important and great. But yes, I think fashion sort of it doesn't have, it's unencumbered in that it doesn't have a particular like there's no lobbyists for or against there being large shifts of public policy or really accountability or regulation in that regard. Although, you know, I don't know that just getting back to another point that we had made earlier, and I'll give you the final word. I wonder how long the resale markets can go on in sort of creating bubbles and when we are talking about them like securities, how long that can go on without regulation, because that really seems very dependent on artificial scarcity and driven by companies who do have shareholders to answer to. So that might be a really interesting... We'll see how that plays out, I have no idea where I was going with it, but I thought it felt like a good thing to say.

Ingrid: [00:44:32] Yeah, I mean, I just think the topic in general of like regulation and then quick shout out to our Loft brand that did just deliver an Earth Month collection. It's made of different variations on recycled plastics and different materials that are made from sustainable materials. But I also think aside from that is jewelry brands and thinking about when you were talking about the implications on children or welfare of emerging markets and places that still have like mining and things like that. One of the biggest contributors to that ecological problem is mining for gold and silver and of course the diamond trade. So I'm curious to see how the sustainable and recycled jewelry world evolves within this larger dialog.

Phillip: [00:45:45] It's so interesting, and what I always love is hearing our listeners' feedback and what they're thinking about. Is this top of mind for you? I'd love to hear your take and I'd love to have a follow up from you. Is this something that you care about as a consumer? Is this something that the brands you work for care about? How are you approaching it? And you know, I'd love to hear your thoughts. You can always lend your voice to the conversation over at FutureCommerce.fm. And where can people find you, Ingrid, out on the web if they want to connect with you?

Ingrid: [00:46:16] So my Twitter is kind of hilariously not active, but I am very active on Instagram and I got in early on that one. So obviously my name is Ingrid Milman, and my Instagram handle is actually @Ing_stagram. And you can hit me there.

Phillip: [00:46:42] And she still is not to this day received a cease and desist from Instagram itself.

Ingrid: [00:46:48] There's a G.

Phillip: [00:46:50] I love it. I love it. I love it. Always a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you for lending your thoughts and your expertise. I'm sure we'll hear a lot more from you in the future.

Ingrid: [00:47:00] Sure. Happy to be here. Thanks again.

Phillip: [00:47:02] And remember like and subscribe everywhere where podcasts are found. And remember that retail tech moves fast, but Future Commerce is moving faster. And we'll be back next week with Brian. But you know, honestly, I kind of like having a different co-host. This is fun. Thanks so much, Ingrid.

Ingrid: [00:47:20] We won't tell.

Phillip: [00:47:20] No, don't tell Brian. Bye.

Ingrid: [00:47:22] Ok.

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