I love that this company is very transparent about their manufacturing process and their labor practices. I do want to know more about where the 21% of spandex comes from. I own a pair of these and I think they are definitely worth the price and there is often sales on their website. I have seen other sustainable leggings that are more expensive. I am hoping they will make strides to diversify their team.
The leggings are made from 79% recycled polyester (RPET) and 21% spandex and 25 post-consumer water bottles.
Girlfriend Collective sources their post-consumer bottles from Taiwan and then they are sorted into 4 plastic categories (#1, #2, #3, #4 plastic). They use #1 plastic also known as Polyethylene Terephthalate or PET which all polyester comes from. Then the bottles are sent to a processing center in Taiwan in bales. Each bale goes through a steam wash to remove the caps and labels and the bottles are sorted by color. The company uses the clear bottles for their fibers. The bottles are shredded into tiny chips, washed and transported to their manufacturing facility. There they are dried, heated up and turned into long strands in a machine. These strands are chipped into pellets which are heated again and made into superfine threads. The threads are spun into yarn onto big bobbins and sent to the knitting factory. Each knitting machine can only produce 100 pairs worth of fabric in a 24-hour period. After the fabric is knit, it is sent to the dye house where they use OEKO-certified dyes. The wastewater from dying is sent to their wastewater treatment plant to separate out stray fibers and dyes. The water is cleaned and cooled then released into a stream with the approval of the Taiwanese EPA. Finally, the fabrics are cut and sew in Vietnam. The leggings are shipped to customers in reusable pouches.
Their cut and sew factory is in Hanoi, Vietnam and it is owned and operated by a Danish family working in the textile industry since 1931. It is SA8000 certified meaning no forced or child labor, safe working conditions, and the right to unionize. This also overlaps with Fair Trade. The factory is managed by a Vietnamese woman named Hien. She used to work for the United Nations Development Program to help farmers develop agricultural and infrastructure projects in rural Vietnam. The company makes sure that workers are paid fair wages, free lunch everyday, and given health insurance along with free health care check ups provided every 6 months. Their processing factory is in Taiwan and it is owned by a Taiwanese family that has been at the front of the recycling industry. The factory is also certified by the government which means that the factory is held accountable for the amount of plastic that goes in and comes out and that only used bottles are used.