Jessica Kelly Thr3efold

At a New York Fashion Week kickoff event held last night, sustainable brands, businesses and industry leaders celebrated the arrival of a new technology platform: Fashion start-up Thr3efold officially launched into beta with its Ethical Manufacturing Platform that assists fashion brands with the tricky task of scouting ethical factories, while also seamlessly managing production processes.

The event was held at the Arlo SoHo in New York.

Its shoppable event offered attendees the opportunity to peruse an assortment of ethical and sustainable brands selected by Thr3efold and Who They Are, an anti-human trafficking organization. Later on in the evening, the hosts held a panel discussion, which featured: Jessica Kelly, founder and chief executive officer of Thr3efold; Marci Zaroff, founder of Metawear, a turnkey ethical and sustainable garment factory located in Virginia and India, and author of EcoRenaissance; and Luna Lee, the human rights lead at Eileen Fisher.

The panelists conversed about the intersection of human trafficking and fashion’s supply chain, and discussed the effects of industry-related environmental impacts, as well as where fashion is headed on its current trajectory. Moderated by Elena Baxter, founder of Who They Are, the panel shed light onto some of the requisite changes coming to the industry and some of the more engaging, optimistic possibilities.

“As the industry-at-large is finally coming to the table to address these important issues, we knew it was time to bring the conversation to mainstream for New York Fashion Week and are excited to say this is just the beginning. Some really exciting innovations are happening in the industry right now to make fashion better for people and planet, but it’s not a conversation I see trickling into the mainstream industry yet, and we wanted to change that,” Kelly told WWD.

Thr3efold’s concept is differentiated by the work it has already done for brands. Each factory it features has been fully vetted, and only ethically-certified factories that adopt transparency and offer “key filters” that enable streamlined search processes based on brands’ specific production needs are accepted onto the platform. To drive it home, Thr3efold wants to help you build your fashion brand, and its platform expedites companies’ ability to enable direct communication, compare pricing and manage production.

Thr3efold Saas Design

The interface of Thr3efold’s tech platform. Photo courtesy of Thr3efold. 

Kelly spent the better part of a decade in the fashion industry with experience in PR, events, sales and marketing for brands in New York, and traveled the world to gain a deeper understanding of factory standards. Kelly’s solution was to create a 1-2-3 formula for brands trying to become sustainable: Apply; Get Matched; and Start Production.

“Thr3efold is half database, half project management tool, so not only can you find a trustworthy factory, but you can communicate directly, compare pricing, and manage your production all in one place,” Kelly said. “Our goal was to make it easier for brands to set up a safe supply chain and it seemed only natural while we were at it to also update the old, clunky PLM systems sadly still in use by many brands today.”

The company added that each factory on its platform has achieved either one or more of the following labor-focused certifications: Betterwork; GOTS; SA8000; World Fair Trade Organization, and WRAP. Types of factories represented on the platform include apparel, accessories, leather goods, textile mills and low MOQ. And, its factories guarantee no child labor; no slave labor; fair wages; no discrimination; a safe and healthy workplace; the right to unionize; clean management communication and sustainable, eco-conscious practices. Thr3efold added that its “garment factories included on the platform span globally, residing mainly outside of North America, with varying minimum order quantities from small to very large, with a full spread of production categories” — packaged to deliver brands’ niche needs in a more sustainable way.

“After spending a month in India conducting research and development, I was shocked at both how incredible some factories’ standards were for people and planet, and how bad their websites were. There was no way they would be found online, much less be understood by a western clientele. The factory side of fashion feels like the wild west, very decentralized and largely unregulated,” Kelly explained. “There’s no single place for brands to go that helps vet standards and facilitate production — Thr3efold is solving that problem.”

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