On the morning of Amour Vert’s New York City store opening, WWD caught up with Aaron Hoey, chief executive officer of the sustainably minded apparel brand.
Receiving two-thirds of its business online, the storefront is not obsolete but rather a “prudent” touchpoint for the company which carries women’s and men’s clothing.
The S.F.-based company uses its small-format store locations as a learning experience, Hoey exemplifies this statement by reaching for three decorative glass jars on a table in the SoHo store. The jars showcase the process of harvesting the Tencel Modal fabric; In the first jar, beechwood chips; the second, pulp; and third, the fibers.
In opening its 10th store, in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, Amour Vert is hoping to influence, not compete, and finds company among Credo Clean Beauty (clean beauty retailer) and Naadam (sustainable cashmere and wool brand) at its Prince Street location.
“New Yorkers are leaders just in their daily lives,” said Hoey, who before relocating to San Francisco, lived in New York. He finds that the adoption of more responsible shopping behavior in the city would resonate globally. His prior roles include executive positions at Gap Inc. and Anthropologie.
On the brand’s view on production, he said: “We always try to keep the supply lower than demand.” Operating as “real partners,” to its factories, Amour Vert roots 97 percent of its production locally in California, with most of its production occurring in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hoey added that shipping and transportation footprint is dramatically lessened by such efforts.
“Sustainability is now a conversation every day,” said Hoey, and the industry finds that sustainable sourcing at scale is becoming as much of an everyday conversation. Amour Vert’s business is rooted in this practice every day, too, starting at the mill stage.
The company uses sustainably sourced fibers (with Tencel Modal one of its secrets to a soft hand in its products) and recycled fibers. Their garments also bear certifications such as the Oeko-Tex and Gots, and are sourced from FSC-certified forests.
As with anything, there are trade-offs. “Our goal is to look at those trade-offs and have the least amount of impact,” said Hoey.
While the industry is slow to pivot from plastic poly bags, the company employs an alternative. The non-poly bag packaging sleeves are 100-percent biodegradable and compostable, only costing a couple of cents more, while Amour Vert’s recyclable and compostable cardboard boxes are actually 7 cents cheaper per box. “When it comes to dollars and cents — these are the decisions we make,” said Hoey.
Circularity may be best embraced through partnerships. Amour Vert began a partnership with ThredUp one month ago, so that with any order, a customer is able to send back clothes (regardless of brand) in the ThredUp sleeve for credit to both companies.
For “extra credit,” the company plants a tree for every T-shirt purchased. This partnership with nonprofit conservation organization American Forests is hitting its sixth year.
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