(image via Everlane)
As promised…following on my teaser post on Friday and mention of this article from The Fashion Law, more of my thoughts on Everlane…
- Everlane continues to be transparent with their pricing model, unlike nearly any other fashion company, and I respect them for that. There are allegations that some of their choose your price items are priced closer to original prices than they admit, and thus not “discounted,” but I haven’t seen ANY evidence of that – in fact, I applaud them for trying out new retail models and challenging us with the knowledge of what the things we buy truly cost, and how discounts affect a company’s bottom line.
- Everlane could do better at being more transparent about their factories, what they pay workers, material sourcing, and other labor issues: many of those concerns are covered in this article, but of course, just because they don’t name factories, doesn’t mean there’s anything particularly nefarious there, just as the fact that H&M DOES name their factories, doesn’t make them saints of the industry…
- I’ve asked for more information about where they source their wool, for example, and haven’t received an answer. That is one issue in which I’m most disappointed and in which they could be much more transparent: raw material sourcing.
- They seem to have moved away from their focus on “radical transparency” as they’ve grown instead of towards it, and the message of transparency has become rather gimmicky, which is disappointing. As I’ve stated before, I feel like they’re riding the wave of transparency they started instead of advancing it.
Better is better – I don’t expect perfection from any fashion company; the industry in general is wasteful, and built upon consumption of new, new, new. Everlane is better than most companies, though, and seems to be making progress moving the industry in an overall better direction. I respect Everlane’s commitment to upending fashion retail and their experimentation with new ways of doing things. I suppose that since I had such high hopes for them, in terms of labor practice transparency and environmental responsibility, I’m harder on them, vs other companies, and I’m more acutely disappointed that they haven’t done MORE to advance those issues, but I also understand the realities of business, and that they need to be profitable so that they can CONTINUE to make progress.
- Personally, I have 3-4 ryan tanks that are a couple years old and in heavy rotation all year-round and although they shrink a little over time (even though I don’t dry them) they have held up nicely to regular wear. I love the drape and softness.
- I have had nothing but an excellent experience with Everlane’s cashmere; I have four sweaters and two cardigans, one a few years old, and while they don’t look brand new, I’ve had no holes or issues other than slight pilling at all.
- The newer (last year’s) wool cardigan was better quality than the original, it doesn’t pill nearly as bad as the first one, and it still looks rather nice even after being used as my “winter coat” last winter. One thing Everlane seems to do well is take customer feedback and try to improve on quality. That’s why I ALWAYS fill out their surveys and email customer service with any issues.
- When they first launched I bought a “men for women” white t-shirt that I wear as a layering tee in fall/winter and it is still nice looking – no holes. I’ve not liked any of their other tees enough to keep them.
- I generally don’t do well with any of Everlane’s other pieces, they’re mostly “meh” on me in terms of fit and style – there’s always something off about them.
Overall, I wish they’d scale back their new offerings and launches a bit and really focus on their most “classic” pieces like their tees, cashmere, silk, and backpacks. I feel like when they try to do too much, and launch too many new items, quality, fit & styles suffer. And I fear that Everlane is becoming a direct-to-consumer version of Zara or H&M; always offering something new & shiny to buy instead of slowing down, and presenting higher-quality wardrobe staples.
- Every year on Black Friday for the last couple of years Everlane has donated a portion of sales from that day to a specific factory project to improve the lives of their workers. I love this, and always support it.
I had higher hopes for Everlane in terms of responsibility and transparency, and I wish they’d continued to produce more “basics” and cotton tees in their Los Angeles factory instead of shifting to Vietnam. Mostly, now, I think their focus is more on “affordable luxury” and on constantly producing new, “luxurious,” supposedly higher-quality, basics with a little something different. But most of all, I wanted Everlane to embrace slow; I want slower fashion, not faster*. And in my opinion, Everlane is becoming faster and faster…
Ultimately, Everlane still holds an important place in a more conscious wardrobe, providing an affordable way to buy better. But the company could absolutely do better overall with regard to being more transparent, and more responsible, something they can only do if we continue to support them and offer them feedback.
My relationship with Everlane:
I’ve worked closely with the company for several years in a variety of ways: they send me things pretty regularly to review for you and I earn a referral fee every time a new customer uses my link and places an order. I also earn a commission on items purchased via my affiliate links when I mention Everlane.
When Everlane reaches out to send me new launches for review, I usually say yes, and accept them, because I want to provide for you my honest opinion and review of new items. I will sometimes say no, and sometimes I just receive things in the mail I wasn’t expecting. There is never an expectation of a positive review, or a review at all. It is up to me when, how, and indeed IF, I post about anything I receive or buy from Everlane and it has always been so.
So, what are your thoughts on Everlane?
*Zady does a much better job at being slow, responsible, sustainable and transparent, while still remaining relatively affordable; they deserve much more attention and credit for what they’ve done for the industry.
Really good post!
Thank-you so much for continuing to support sustainability, fairness and transparency (at all levels of the production cycle). These are very, very important issues for the planet and the people on the planet.
I have bought quite a bit from Everlane since I found out about it, and I have found the products I purchased to be of consistently superior quality for the price (that said, I didn’t buy any of the apparently horrific wool sweaters from awhile back ;-).) I don’t mind at all that they are offering more product, as not all of their styles are flattering for me, even if I really like them, so it is nice to have choice. They seem to be selling out, as not very many items or colours go to sale, which means people are liking their product, and they are consequently able to employ more people. I take the point that if quality is going down, what’s the point, but I personally have not noticed it so far. I look forward to hearing the experience of others on this. As for exaggerating “choose your price” discounts, that would be a clear case of consumer fraud and one that could be adjudicated quite easily since their original prices are a matter of record. I always support increased transparency and hopefully this will include a proper product review function in the future.
Zady, I love, but they have so few products and they are so basic that I usually have a similar product already in my closet. So even if I am drooling over the new Zady “twist” the purchase of another item I already have in some workable form would be the very definition of “fast fashion.”
I do have a question about James Perse. I know you are a big fan, and I too would pay no matter what price if I found something that made me look so great, but I have concerns in that I can find nothing on their website re: policies, sustainability, etc. I have purchased 3 items over the summer of which I ended up liking two very much, and these two I have been wearing to death. However I am conflicted. If it is not a sustainable, pro-labour, etc., factory why do their products cost so much? I do very much like their aesthetic, but with some notable exceptions (including the two items I purchased, the linen coveralls, and a few other items) I feel like I can get a similar vibe and quality for a fraction of the price. That said, every single time I put on the dress I bought from James, my husband puts on actual trousers and takes me out for dinner! This NEVER EVER happens with any other outfit. Definitely worth the price on that one ha ha.
I personally haven’t been able to bring myself to buy anything from Everlane yet. I was eyeing some of their L.A.-made tees for a while, but now none of them seem to be made there. My criteria for clothes are usually that they’re made from sustainable fabrics and/or they’re made in the U.S.—preferably both. Now it seems Everlane meets neither of my criteria.
I get some basic organic tees from PACT, although I wish they’d add more styles and colors. Prairie Underground is my absolute favorite brand for more interesting eco-fashion. (Their Glove denim leggings are awesome.) I’ve also been a big fan of Raw Earth Wild Sky and Curator. I’ve gotten a tee from Amour Vert that I like as well, although I find modal fabrics tend to pill up and most of theirs are modal. I’d love more organic cotton options. I haven’t tried anything from Groceries yet, but I feel like they fit the bucket of sustainable basics well.
I feel like I can find good alternatives to Everlane that are more ethical and more sustainable at reasonable prices, so I just prefer to go that route. If they made more stuff in L.A. again, I might try it out.
Great post! I agree with you on the wish that Everlane would slow down. It seems like they found that the “launches” are a great marketing tool, so they try to pump out whatever they can so they can “launch” it, and build some more hype around the product. I typically like their more basic items as well – a lot of the higher end “luxury” items and trendier fashion items just don’t appeal to me (like the E1 capsule…I thought that was weird), and seem to go against the luxury basics thing in that they aren’t “basic” (like the wool pinstripe “suit”). I’d much rather see updates to existing items rather than just more items.
Also, what are your thoughts on the marketing campaigns like the shoe parks and this new cashmere cabin? They just seem silly to me. Like they could have put those resources to better use. On Instagram they mentioned using several hundred plants in the shoe park, and I thought, where did all those plants go when they were done? Hopefully they found good homes…
Alas, the Ryan tanks…I am a fan of the tanks (not as much the tees) so I’m sad they aren’t selling them anymore. I really love the muscle tanks and wear them quite often in all types of weather. I wore my navy one underneath a suit to an interview yesterday! So far mine are holding up pretty well, especially with how frequently I wear them. Also I’ve started washing my clothes in vinegar instead of laundry detergent – first to get rid of detergent build up in my washer (it was leaving weird oil and powder stains), but second because it’s better on the clothes and just more enviro-friendly, and I don’t have to deal with detergent smell, which I hate! (even “fragrance free” ones smell to me)
Great post. I didn’t know they donate to factory workers, that is wonderful. I agree with what you’ve said. In regards to the Made in the USA, I do think that becomes an issue when a brand reaches a certain volume. Unless they open their own factory, the current US garment industry can’t always meet the demand. I’ve heard Eileen Fisher discuss this as well and that brand is working toward opening their own manufacturing in the US because of this issue.
I do like that by focusing on quality basics, having recurring styles and less on the trend of the month, they are making an effort to be more sustainable in that regards. Not everything I buy from them fits me well but the items that do have lasted and are among my most used pieces in my closet. Except my swing trench. While I love it, I haven’t traveled much during the spring and early fall, which would be the best times to wear it. But I love it and the XS fits me perfectly.
I do wish they’d allow customer reviews as that would allow us to make better purchases. Not every piece is going to fit every body the same and I rely on extensively reading reviews when purchasing online to minimize returns. For example, if one customer said the heel fits tight in a boot and they had trouble slipping their high arch into the boot, I know it will fit me perfectly due to my flatter arch and narrow heel. On the other side, I absolutely love that their size guide is not generic, is specific to the item and includes exact dimensions by piece! This has helped me determine my size on numerous buys.
One more thing that’s bugged me tremendously about Everlane is their use of insanely skinny models. They look very unhealthy and I actually think the clothes don’t look good on them and don’t fit them. It’s very hard to tell what they really look like on. (It’s part of the reason why I never ordered anything when they did have tees made in L.A.) I’m a pretty skinny person myself, but just think this is not a good message about what women should look like. I wish they would use women of a variety of body types.
I love what you said about their E1 Capsule. I actually wrote them a “what’s up with this?” email about it.
Grechen Reiter says
ah. james perse…
here are my thoughts on that:
the company is more transparent than most about where their fabric/materials come from on most of the product pages, like my canvas tote is “made in the US of Italian fabric” or whatever. Other things, I know about their sourcing only from an “inside” source, which is no longer with the company. For example, when they did a camel hair, or alpaca sweater/coat a few years ago, they basically only used what was shed by the animal and picked up after it, although you couldn’t find that information anywhere on their site…
their “made in the US” items are made in a factory in Los Angeles which is pretty close to the HQ office (at least from what I was told), so i’d imagine there is some oversight (it’s the same factory Everlane uses, incidentally…)
With regard to labor issues, and sourcing, they have a very good statement on their CSR page:
ultimately for me, for a fashion item to be sustainable it must be more than just “inherently” sustainable (more responsible fabrics, etc.), it must be of the highest quality, and i have to know that i can wear it comfortably for many years. James Perse has never ever let me down in that regard, and therefore the JP items in my closet are the most sustainable pieces I have – more so than some that are made from organic cotton, etc., because I actually WEAR Them more.
the prices are sort of extreme sometimes, i agree, like the shoes? whoa. BUT after having such consistently excellent experience with the brand for 10+ years (and knowing their sale schedule pretty well LOL), i’m willing to pay inflated prices in most cases. yes, i just admitted that …haha…
And now they’re doing a second one! I noticed a lot of the E1 capsule stuff ended up on the “name your price” sale. I guess they thought they needed another?? I’d rather see how you could capsule existing items.
Me too! They did that with one of their pants, though they didn’t show the entire model’s body – just kind of the waist down, so you still couldn’t really get a sense of how the pants fit overall. But I appreciate that they at least took pictures of women from every pant size wearing the pants. I wrote them about that – I get that it would probably be too much effort to photograph ALL their items in ALL the sizes, but maybe just mix things up a little bit?
Grechen Reiter says
i think the “capsule” collections are ways for them to try out some more ‘Edgy’ silhouettes or something? beyond the basic, i guess. i tried one of the sweaters last year and it was just too much.
Agree. Unfortunate widespread practice except for some outliers such as Elizabeth Suzann. Only advantage is that since almost all shops use the same size models, I always know exactly how many sizes I am up from the model. And it is UP!
I tend to agree with you Grechen. Everlane is clearly too big now to maintain the ethos and style that attracted us in the first place. I do think Everlane is not as transparent as they used to be. I think it’s important to unpack what transparency means–personally, I want to know that my items are made with care, by people who are treated well, from fabrics that are sustainably sourced, in places that have low environmental impact. Everlane attempts to check all these boxes but I can’t say with assurance that Everlane’s employees are treated well, or that their environmental impact is low, or that their materials are sustainably sourced. Oddly enough, a company who I can really get behind is Cuyana. They make no effort to be transparent, instead focusing on luxury and price point. However, most of their items are made in places known for fair labor (NYC!). They source materials generally from where the items are produced. They sell out quickly of things and don’t seem to mass produce items. Their quality is superior and their styles are classic. Their items will never be fast fashion. It makes me sad to see Everlane duping people into thinking they are really transparent when in reality it has simply become a buzzword with brand cachet.
On another note, I went to the Everlane showroom and was really turned off by the employees. It really seemed like a smaller Zara. They had no excitement or knowledge and acted like I should be grateful to be there! That combined with their de-emphasis on classic styles has kept me from purchasing recently.
Over the past few years I’ve been an extremely loyal Everlane fan- I don’t see that changing in the near future. However, whereas I used to feel like I could view the website and trust the descriptions, I really feel as if their marketing has developed a ‘fast-fashion’ language. I think the design of many of their items has only become more interesting and better over time, however, I don’t think the actual textiles meet my expectations anymore. Some of the fabrics pill too quickly, some are too itchy/scratchy, and even some of the colors of the clothing I receive look very different from the colors on the website. The two most disappointing purchases I made this year were the ponte pant and the pink square cut cardigan. Both are an excellent fit and I love the design, but the pant material was terribly uncomfortable and the pink color was really dingy…I was pretty shocked. I read many reviews expressing similar thoughts about this shade of pink as well- I also purchased a sweater that looked more white/cream only to arrive looking like a faint grey. I have yet to return an item (it’s just not in me), but to advertise the ponte pant as ‘feels like a legging’ was drastically off the mark. And I used to enjoy shopping Everlane because I felt there was a ‘what you see is what you get.’ Now I’m very hesitant and I don’t shop there for fun like I used to- mainly because being charged for a return and having to mail items back are my personal nightmares. It’s not fun to shop and keep wondering ‘I wonder if I’m going to end up hating this.’
Best of luck to Everlane. I would love to feel like I could trust that the site was more user-friendly and also more transparent about their textile sourcing. I’m glad to see I’m not the only customer with recent doubts. I hope I have reason to change my mind in the future! I’d love to see a good brand succeed with it’s original values.
I love this discussion – excellent post, Grechen! You have articulated many of my own thoughts about Everlane. I purchased many of their items in 2014-2015 but over the past year…not so much. It’s funny because I was just thinking a couple days ago that as my personal style has evolved through my “minimalist-conscious-wardrobe” journey, the brands that I’ve come to love the most are all headed by women: Eileen Fisher (just bought my first piece!), MM Lafleur (probably not your style, but made in NY for professional women and excellent customer service), Cuyana, and Elizabeth Suzann (discovered her thanks to you!). Anyway, just an interesting observation 🙂
I just wrote my thoughts on your last Everlane post, so I won’t add to it, other than to say that Everlane has my respect for sending you garments for review and never expecting your review to be necessarily glowing. You’ve got integrity, so that helps!