Amour Vert men's launch

Sustainable fashion brand Amour Vert is defiantly different. But the brand isn’t breaking any rules — it’s modestly, and quietly, rewriting them.

Launched in 2010, Amour Vert — meaning “Green Love” in French — was sustainably minded from the get-go. The San Francisco-based direct-to-consumer brand works directly with mills to develop its signature fabrics and patterns, namely with materials such as: Modal, made of sustainably harvested beechwood fibers; organic cotton; Oeko-Tex certified Mulberry silk; Tencel; Cupro, and ethical wool. And it operates a small batch production model, with 97 percent of its output hailing from its seven factories in located in California, but that’s not why the brand stands out.

“The way we functionally set up a business is very different from most companies,” said Aaron Hoey, chief executive officer at Amour Vert, who has held various c-level and managerial roles for global fashion companies such as Anthropologie and Gap Inc. “I’ve had a lot of people, even in our industry, ask, ‘How can you be fast and sustainable?’ Those [concepts] aren’t in conflict to each other — they’re actually supportive of each other. The fast-fashion part — the way that I think consumers and a lot of the industry defines fast fashion — is the disposable nature of the clothes. And that’s the really unfortunate part, that often is the opposite of sustainability.” Hoey continued, “The end product we’re making is high-quality product, meant to last. And we are also always on trend, but we’re not trendy — you’re not going to see us experimenting with a third-sleeve T-shirt.” But that’s where Amour Vert’s speed comes in, Hoey explained.

T-shirts from Amour Vert’s first men’s collection. 

Amour Vert is not your average company in structure or aesthetics. The brand loosely produces 12 collections per year, give or take, and its apparel offerings are often seasonless, trendless and without a unifying theme or sense of continuity. It impressively and exclusively uses its own in-house designed textiles and prints, which enables a wide spectrum of versatility: “We start at the yarn level, and we say, ‘How many different fabrics can we make out of this?’ [We try to] get flexibility out of the yarns and make the fabrics into different things. Almost everything we do in our DNA is versatility,” Hoey explained, adding that each piece is designed to be worn for multiple occasions.

And that versatility led to the development of its first men’s line, which debuted today, a capsule collection offering wardrobe staples such as its 100 percent organic cotton T-shirts in jersey and ribbed styles made with GOTS-certified yarns, and French Terry sweatshirts made from the same type of cotton, with twill back construction. The desire for a men’s collection “came from our customers,” Hoey said, as its female shoppers continuously wrote to the brand and asked for it. Since the demand was there, Amour Vert took the same yarns they use for its women’s apparel and made fleeces and pocket-Ts to start.

But fabrics aside, Amour Vert’s speediness relies on its ability to prototype all of its designs in-house. Traditionally, its production schedule operates about three months out, inclusive of sketching and the primary design process. Through its “miniature factory” located within its headquarter office, the brand has pattern-makers, cutters and sewers that can swiftly create apparel at the snap of finger. For example, its recent “48 Hour Dress,” a social media campaign the brand launched without any fanfare, encouraged Amour Vert’s Instagram followers to vote on their favorite dress out of three possibilities: The winning dress was then created that day, and available for purchase the following day online. “The whole point was that we made the dress, live, right there in front of people [on Instagram], let them vote, showed them the outcome, and photo shot it the same day,” making the case for hyper-speed, sustainable fast fashion. Hoey believes the Amour Vert team can even further reduce the amount of hours it takes to manufacture an apparel item, and is currently working on trimming that number.

Amour Vert’s sustainable shipping initiatives have reduced company costs. 

Amour Vert’s sustainability is found in every detail, even its sleek shipping envelopes and boxes. Sixty percent of its products are now sent in large envelopes, since the brand realized that its lighter shipments — previously sent in small boxes — were wasteful and too large for the product itself. Its new minimalist, stylish boxes, printed with soy inks, cost less per box and feature its branding on the sides, showcasing its sustainability stats – recycled, compostable, and biodegradable – so consumers can take a moment to think about the message. True to form, its packaging can be resealed and reused for returns.

And while it seems that Amour Vert has checked all its boxes, the brand humbly admits that there is no such thing as perfect. Hoey told WWD, “[Sustainability] is all a journey. We’re getting there one step at a time. There will never be an end to ‘How can we do it more sustainably?’ We’ll always keep finding the next thing.”

For more Business news from WWD, see:

Fashion Brand Vida ‘Redefines Growth,’ Addresses Consumption

At the Source: Peruvian Manufacturing in Focus

Field Notes: Holistic Sustainability

Google Moves Sustainability Needle With ‘Your Plan, Your Planet’

Change Agents: Denim Brands Working to Transform the Industry

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