Some retailers and vendors are trying to lesson the sting of soaring oil and gas prices, offering their employees incentives to carpool, take mass transit and bike or even walk to work.
As analysts predict oil prices could hit $150 a barrel and gas sells at a record $4.11 a gallon nationally, L.L. Bean is leading the charge with new initiatives.
In the past month or so, 1,300 of L.L. Bean's 5,000 worldwide employees have signed up for ECO Bean, a new employee commuting option program that makes participants eligible for gasoline gift cards, GPS devices, bicycles and other gift certificates. Carpoolers get priority parking at the company's Freeport, Maine, headquarters and more designated spots have been needed because of the program's popularity. In L.L. Bean's call centers, the company has a new scheduling plan to match up carpoolers.
L.L. Bean recently offered telecommuting as an option for its information technology department, and this summer at its factory in Brunswick, Maine, staffers are working a 40-hour, four-day week instead of a five-day week to reduce their commutes and, presumably, L.L. Bean's overhead expenses. That schedule may become more permanent, spokeswoman Laurie Brooks said.
"As long as employees are asking for it, we want to be sure we're listening to them, and offering things they need and they want to make changes," she said. "As long as we're still meeting quotas, why not? It's better for the environment, too."
L.L. Bean is exploring the possibility of negotiating with a supplier to get gas or heating oil discounts for its employees for limited periods. An education program that will help staffers make their homes more energy-efficient is under way. Well aware that 80 percent of Maine houses are heated with oil, and many of them are old, drafty houses, Brooks said, "We are going to have some employees faced with challenges."
About six weeks ago, Gramicci, an Agoura Hills, Calif.-based outdoor lifestyle apparel manufacturer, launched Drive Less – BBWC, a program that encourages commuting by bike, bus, walking or carpool (thus, the acronym). Staffers jot down on their weekly time cards or BBWC sheets the number of days they practiced those commuting alternatives and accrue days to earn gift certificates for Gramicci.com, stores and restaurants, or additional paid vacation days. Eighty percent of the company's 32 employees are participating so far, said Marty Weening, president of Gramicci.One unexpected benefit has been the increased camaraderie and brainstorming that have stemmed from the carpooling, Weening said. Another is the company's new urban biking collection, a 20-piece group of items designed for commuters.
Taking mass transportation is a given for New York-based Brooklyn Industries' staffers, but now the company is spreading the word about biking. Brooklyn Industries has introduced a T-shirt imprinted with "More Bike Lanes" in its nine stores, including its newest in Chicago's Buckhead neighborhood. In September, they will be sold in Brooklyn Industries' new store at 803 Broadway near Union Square. A designer who is a diehard about biking to the brand's offices in the Brooklyn Navy Yard — rain or shine — came up with the idea. Ten percent of sales of the $32 T-shirts will benefit Recycle a Bike, a group that refurbishes old bicycles and donates them to children.
The company also just introduced a "Brooklyn" T-shirt where the wheels of a bicycle are designed in the two Os. "We are very aware of biking [as an alternative means of transportation] in terms of our design," said co-founder Lexy Funk, who has used bicycles in store window displays to remind shoppers of a greener lifestyle.
At Bogner of America Inc.'s offices in Newport, Vt., employees who show proof of purchasing a vehicle that gets at least 33 miles a gallon will receive a bonus of $500. The vehicle must be registered to a current staffer, who has worked at the company for at least two years. However, anyone who leaves BOA within a year after receiving the $500, must pay back the bonus or have it deducted from their final paycheck.
Columbia Sportswear Co., based in Portland, Ore., will pay for employees' annual passes for TriMet public transportation (bus and light rail). In addition, carpoolers get preferential parking and staffers can use bike racks and shower facilities for those who cycle to work. About 12 percent of the company's 625 staffers use TriMet at some time during the week, another 12 percent carpool, 3 percent bike to work and 1 percent hoof it.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye