Kristy Caylor’s first fashion brand, Maiyet, is an ethical brand exclusively selling clothing made by self-sustaining artisans from different areas of the world. But, while running the business, she still felt like she wasn’t doing enough to help fashion’s sustainability problem.
“We wanted to start at the top of the aesthetic food chain and make a sustainable luxury brand,” said Caylor. “It was a good way to take everything I learned and then think of a bigger model that could change the industry in a more sweeping way.”
In May, Caylor launched For Days, a retail company selling T-shirts and other knitwear on a subscription basis — members can pay a monthly flat rate that varies depending on how many shirts they want to receive per order. When customers are done with the shirts, thanks to stains or just growing tired of them, they send them back to For Days in exchange for a fresh batch. The company upcycles the used T-shirts to make new ones.
Caylor joined the Glossy Podcast to discuss the idea of ownership, For Days’ early days and how sustainability can work in fashion.
As the definition of “luxury” evolves, Caylor said, customers are more willing to experience rather than own. But other models, like Rent the Runway, that apply the sharing economy to fashion, don’t work for things like T-shirts, which are basic items that tend to get used and abused relatively quickly. For Days wanted to provide a solution to that.
“We have a burden of ownership: Things collect up, and then we don’t know what to do with them. It leads to a pretty heavy pollution problem,” she said. “We also wanted to give people the freedom of new things all the time and to give people a new relationship to their products. The sharing economy obviously wasn’t right for this, but we figured there had to be a way to help eliminate waste.”
On formulating For Days’ platform
Caylor said that, while new sharing economy models and secondhand marketplaces like The RealReal, are addressing sustainability by putting more existing inventory to use and not creating more waste, they’re still not addressing what happens when clothing wears out. For Days starts approaching that question from the beginning of the design process.
“For the idea that nothing is destroyed to work, you have to design for that; you can’t just deal with it at the end. You deal with it at the front by using the right materials and designing with some parameters,” said Caylor. “Circularity is a big idea that will take over more of fashion. It’s a challenge, but that’s why we started out with something focused — we’re just at the tip of the iceberg.”
On hacking sustainable fashion
Caylor sits on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Consumerism, alongside executives from companies like H&M, Visa, Alibaba and Rakuten. In their conversations, which look 10 to 15 years down the line in regard to how people will shop more sustainably in the future, the answer ultimately comes down to access over ownership.
“We came to the conclusion that this access-driven model would be the unlock,” said Caylor. “If you ask a customer to sacrifice on something you won’t engage with them in the right way. Circular consumption is a new way of relating to the product we spend money on.”