If you’ve ever looked into sustainable fashion, you’ve probably heard of Reformation. The brand is a leader in sustainability and transparency, so I decided to review them so I could see for myself. Reformation uses a variety of different materials that they rate themselves and set standards for. Their transparency in their supply chain is better than most fashion brands, however they could be more transparent in certain areas, including how certain materials are sourced and how they move up the supply chain. One of the biggest criticisms the brand gets is the price of their products, as their prices do boost them into a luxury category that the average consumer can’t afford. When purchasing from Reformation, however, you are buying from a company that greatly values the environment and circularity within the industry. I commend Reformation for their progress and transparency, and I look forward to seeing them achieve more of their goals.
The Nikita dress is made of 100% Viscose or “Rayon". Rayon is a man-made cellulose fiber made from wood, and compared to other materials out there (such as recycled linen, cotton... etc.) it is not considered a "top" sustainable material due to the chemicals used in its production. It is considered a more environmentally friendly material because it is sourced from renewable plants, however the controversy is in the chemicals. Reformation states that they’re "committed to ensuring all our forest-based products come from sustainably managed forests," however they provide no details into the production of this material aside from this statement. The product listing states that the production of this dress saved 9.0 lbs. of CO2 and 4 gal. of water, however they do not provide information into how they calculated the product’s individual impact. Reformation rates all of their materials based on an A-D scale, with A being the most sustainable. Surprisingly, Viscose falls into three different categories: B, C, and D. I would encourage Reformation to publish which category the material used for making this product falls into on the product listing page. That being said, Reformation has a number of standards in place and future goals for their material sourcing, including Viscose. Reformation is transparent about all of the materials they use across all of their products in their Fiber Standards Guide, and they do have a strong life-cycle and resource consumption analysis in place through their "RefScale." Their transparency is in the top tier range within the fashion industry, however I would encourage them to share more information about individual products.
Manufacturing the Nikita dress begins with sourcing the material—which starts with trees. Viscose is created from a wood pulp that is then chemically treated, so it’s not considered a fully natural or fully synthetic material, but rather an “in-between.” Reformation works with over 40 factories/facilities in the United States, China, Turkey, Mexico, India, Pakistan, and Vietnam. Much of their manufacturing is local in Los Angeles, however their international partnerships can raise the overall impact of their products due to emissions from transportation. Reformation provides their full list of factories, Code of Conduct, and scale for rating their vendors on their website. Additionally, they state that they require their “suppliers to participate in independent, third-party social assessments to ensure fair, safe and healthy working conditions throughout our supply chain.” In their Q1 Sustainability Report for 2021, Reformation was transparent about their current practices that need improvement. For example, they have yet to reach their goal of maintaining a “green” rating (satisfies all Reformation standards) for at least 75% of their facilities by 2022, and they have yet to achieve 100% compliance with the living wage standards for 2021. Their transparency is much greater than other brands when it comes to labor standards and manufacturing processes, however there is more they could be doing to be more sustainable in this area.
Reformation is known as a top-tier sustainable fashion brand, and they are a leader in promoting sustainable practices, alternative energy, and circularity. Their website is extremely transparent and shows their efforts to reduce their environmental impact. They have been carbon neutral (due to offsets) since 2015, and have shared their sustainability reports with the public. Overall, their efforts and goals align with their actions, and I do think they are more sustainable than other brands out there. They do, however, have a fast production rate and produce numerous “limited edition” weekly collections, which promotes consumerism. Their tagline that they’re the #2 most sustainable option (with #1 being naked) is brilliant from a marketing standpoint, however it may come across a little green-washed. In reality, reusing what you already have is more sustainable than buying new. But, if you are to buy new products, Reformation is a more sustainable place to shop than fast-fashion brands like Zara, H&M, and Urban Outfitters.