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We expect small companies like American Giant to attempt designs for a locally-sourced hoodie, but a global performance label like The North Face? Not so much. Except last year, the Bay Area brand set out to create a hoodie made entirely within 150 miles of its headquarters. Sadly, it failed.
Not that it wasn't a valiant effort.
The Guardian explains, "The North Face hoodie was part of its Backyard Project, which is part of the company's effort to work closely with the US textile industry, from farmers to factories, to use sustainably-grown materials and reduce waste." The problem, however, was that the brand needed to mass-produce its local hoodie. After purchasing 15,500 pounds of sustainable brown cotton from a local farms to produce the sweatshirt, The North Face decided that it wanted the finished garment to have a heathered look. That meant mixing the brown cotton with another sustainable white cotton from the Carolinas.
The final Backyard Project product, which was sustainable, but not entirely local, retailed for $125 and sold out in less than two months. While it may have failed in terms of geography, it proved that customers are willing to pay extra for eco-wares. (The label's standard sweatshirts retail for $55-$80.) At least now we have hope that future earth-friendly athletic lines could be financially viable. Silver linings, right?