Table of Contents
Our Rating: 3 / 5 (See: How Leaf Score is calculated)
- Size inclusive brand that “walks the walk”
- Clothing made using recycled plastic
- Innovative REGirlfriend program recycles old garments and makes them new
|Country of Origin:||Manufacturing in Japan, Taiwan, and Vietnam|
|Materials:||Recycled polyester, recycled nylon, spandex, recycled post-consumer water bottles, cupro, organic cotton|
|Certifications:||OEKO-Tex Standard 100SA8000|
Girlfriend Collective is a clothing company that sells ethical and sustainable clothing. The company is mainly known for women’s activewear but also sells mens clothing, accessories, and most recently sleepwear. One thing we love about this brand in addition to their eco-friendly street cred – their clothing is size-inclusive, with sizes ranging from XXS (XXXS for men) to 6XL. The Girlfriend Collective models represent all ethnicities and body types, which makes a more diverse range of customers feel welcome.
Girlfriend Collective clothing is largely made from recycled materials. The company uses recycled polyester, spandex, and nylon for much of its clothing items. Some pieces are produced using recycled water bottles and cupro, a fiber created from cotton industry waste. Their LITE Leggings and Maternity Collection use ECONYL, which is made from recycled nylon from fishing nets. Beyond their clothing, Girlfriend Collective’s packaging is also made from 100% recycled materials. See here for more specific details about the composition of materials in Girlfriend Collective’s clothing.
Girlfriend Collective uses recycled materials at multiple stages in the manufacturing process. The company also has a program, called ReGirlfriend, where they accept old Girlfriend Collective garments and recycle them to make new clothing, further reducing their waste and increasing the lifespan of their products.
While Girlfriend Collective uses largely recycled plastics in their clothing, the items can still release microfibers in the wash which can have a negative environmental impact. However, they include advice on their website for how to reduce the release of microfibers when Girlfriend Collective Garments are washed.
The company’s factory practices are designed to minimize environmental impact. Girlfriend Collective uses facilities in Japan, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Their yarn is produced in a Japanese factory, which is “zero-waste, zero-emission.” In Taiwan, where all their water bottles come from, Girlfriend Collective’s processing facility is government certified, meaning the Taiwanese government verifies sourcing for recycled plastics. This prevents manufacturers from buying new water bottles and passing them off as post-consumer.
The company’s dye and wastewater treatment center is also in Taiwan. The wastewater from the dyeing process is cleaned and cooled and must be approved by the Taiwanese EPA before being released. They donate the leftover material from dyeing (called “dye mud”) to be used locally in pavement.
Girlfriend Collective’s main factory where they assemble their clothing is located in Hanoi, Vietnam, and is SA8000-certified. SA8000 is a standard for worker safety created by Social Accountability International. It ensures that Girlfriend Collective employees in the factory work in safe conditions and earn living wages.
The company’s fabric has a Standard 100 certification from OEKO-Tex, which means the material has been tested for substances harmful to human health and determined to be safe. Their dyes are also OEKO-certified safe. However, their website provides little details on how their dyes are “eco-friendly.”
In an industry that accounts for 10% of annual carbon emissions globally (40% of which comes from polyester production), Girlfriend Collective has taken steps to reduce their environmental impact. Producing athletic clothing typically uses a lot of energy and oil.
By recycling plastic and old garments to make their clothing, Girlfriend Collective addresses a major issue with other brands’ clothes: that plastic, synthetic fabrics are not biodegradable. Thus, conventional athletic wear can cause environmental degradation long after pieces are discarded. As consumption and waste in the fashion industry continue to increase, it has become more important to extend the useful life of the clothing we make.
My experience with Girlfriend Collective
I have purchased some pieces from Girlfriend Collective and have had a good experience. As someone who does not work out every day, I find their clothing is as versatile as it is sustainable, meaning you don’t have to be a “gym rat” to be a customer. Here are a few items I have tried myself and can recommend:
Gia Crop Tee
Highlights: Versatile, durable, and ethical organic cotton T-shirt great for casual activities and everyday use.
Made of cupro and organic cotton, the Gia Crop Tee is one of my favorite shirts. I wear it frequently and the fabric has stood the test of time, showing little sign of wear. The design is simple and fits nicely, and the material is very comfortable and light. Apart from being 100% biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and anti-static, the fabric also regulates body temperature, allowing it to be worn throughout the seasons.
Stretch Super Crop
Highlights: Fast drying workout top made from recycled plastic water bottles.
This is another top I love from Girlfriend Collective. The material is so soft one would never expect it came from recycled water bottles. The fabric is peached, meaning it is stretched and brushed as it dries, a process intended to make the material feel like the fuzz on peach skin (which it does). The fabric is also quick-drying, so this tank top is great for exercising as well as wearing casually.
Highlights: A sports bra made from recycled plastic water bottles. Each Tommy Bra diverts 10 plastic bottles away from landfills.
The sports bras from Girlfriend Collective are popular, and understandably so. The Tommy Bra is comfortable and supportive, but stretchy enough that it does not constrict one’s chest too much. The material inside the support band at the bottom is also very soft so that you almost don’t feel it. According to Girlfriend Collective’s website, the bra is made for medium-impact workouts.
Because of the measures they have taken to use recycled materials at various stages in their production process, Girlfriend Collective is considerably more sustainable than athletic wear from other brands. While the clothing can be a bit pricey, in my experience the material is comfortable and durable. Overall, this brand is great for people looking for athleisure wear that is more ethically and sustainably produced.