Green Tech: Aaron Sanandres of Definite Articles On How Their Technology Will Make An Important Positive Impact On The Environment

An Interview With Jilea Hemmings

Jilea Hemmings
Authority Magazine
11 min readJan 31, 2022


We go beyond using recycled plastic to actually reduce the amount of plastic in our environment. We do this by using a natural additive when spinning our yarns that creates tiny holes in the microplastics that are woven into our synthetic fabrics. This additive makes the synthetic yarns behave like natural fibers — so less like plastic and more like wool. The upshot here is our performance sock — which has the strength and stretch you want to carry you through the day — will revert to the earth when you’ve worn it out and it finds its way to a landfill because, let’s be honest, that’s where most socks land.

In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Aaron Sanandres.

Aaron Sanandres is the co-founder and CEO of UNTUCKit, one of the fastest-growing men’s retail brands in the United States and the founder of the world’s most sustainable performance wear brand Definite Articles. After graduating cum laude from Hamilton College with a double major in government and Asian studies, Sanandres earned his MBA in 2007 at Columbia Business School. Following, Sanandres worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for 17 years, where he was a partner and worked in transaction services and led the compensation, tax, and accounting team for the Midwest. He joined UNTUCKit full time as CEO in 2015. As of November 4, 2021, Sanandres officially launched the Definite Articles line of activewear apparel to support performance at every level and create zero waste in the process. His new brand uses cutting-edge textile technology, enabling zero waste and fully biodegradable properties to offer a promising solution for the planet’s plastic problem — one (Definite) Article of clothing at a time.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?

I grew up here, there and a bit of everywhere. I was born in Hong Kong and spent the next 18 years of my life growing up and attending schools internationally.

Countries that I once called home include Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Greece, Japan, Singapore and later, as a college graduate, China. It wasn’t until I was heading to university that I moved back to the United States to attend school in upstate New York at Hamilton College.

While my family and I covered quite a bit of geography and the languages and cultures of where we called home varied, the consistent thru-line, for me, was learning to navigate newness, to value difference and to be inquisitive of new traditions. We learn so much if we just take the time to observe, listen and engage with one another. I saw this first-hand as a kid and it’s stuck with me whether I’m in Jersey or Japan.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

As I sit here today, I think one of the more interesting things about my career are the bends in its road. Five years in, you’d never have predicted where I am today.

I spent the first five years of my career, if you will, working in human relations consulting where I spent hours combing over international social security and tax regulations. I then moved on to merger and acquisition consulting. The move to entrepreneurship with Untuckit and now Definite Articles all followed in somewhat unlikely fashion. In a sense, I charted my way through three different careers or three chapters in a career with several key twists and turns.

To me, that is what makes a career — whether mine or yours — interesting. There’s no script to follow. It is literally unwritten until you write it with every key decision along the way.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Thank you for asking this question, and I whole-heartedly agree with its premise. For me, absolutely and without question, that person would be my wife, Adriana. It may be cliché, but it also happens to be true. Her encouragement for me, and for us, starting something entrepreneurial whether it was Untuckit back in 2011 or Definite Articles in 2021 was vital. Her support was certain in a highly uncertain time as we took a big, ambitious, nerve-racking leap.

There are quite literally a thousand stories I could share about Adriana’s support. But I think the most relevant is how she did more than just offer words of encouragement. She literally rolled up her sleeves and dove in. Early on with Untuckit, Adriana helped to run photo shoots, get shirts shipped out the door and build out plans for some of our brick-and-mortar stores. From the beginning, she was there with me step for step. Adriana is the common denominator for me in all this.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I would say the spirit underlying Teddy Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena speech resonates with me.

I’m not presuming greatness here. I don’t make claims of valiance and as I sit here today, my face certainly is not “marred by dust and sweat and blood.” No, not quite. Thank goodness for that.

But I believe the spirit of what the former president was saying back in 1910 holds every bit as true today: Don’t be afraid to try. Step into the arena and go for it even though he “errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming.” Look, whatever the outcome proves to be, just give it a shot. Put yourself out there, take a chance and see what happens. It may not always work out as you’d hoped. But at the end of the day, I place great value on trying. Because as President Roosevelt said, “at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.”

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Great question. There are several values that I strive to reflect as I go about my work and, more generally, live out in my life. But to pinpoint three characteristics spurred some soul-searching on my end. So here goes:

First and foremost, kindness — always. I am a bridge-builder. I have always been more inclined to build consensus than to command and lead. For me, I place emphasis on the Golden Rule — to treat people the way you want to be treated. I strive to live out this ideal in my life generally as well as the organizational culture that I have a hand in fostering.

Secondly, communicate early and often. This is particularly vital in fluid situations with lots of moving pieces, distinct personalities — say, for instance, an upstart shirt apparel company or a newly launched biodegradable activewear brand. But the commitment to communicate — effectively, openly and frequently — helps create a sense of cohesion and togetherness. That’s foundational to any cause or company.

Lastly, whether you soar or stumble, own it. For brevity’s sake, you might say be accountable. Since I was a kid, I’ve always taken pride and, in a sense, responsibility for what I’m focused on at the present. I think a sense of ownership is crucial to building a team environment. Mistakes will happen. We all swing and miss. Don’t duck the errors when they inevitably happen. Own them. Learn from them. Carry on.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on the planet and the environment. To begin, which problems are you aiming to solve?

At Definite Articles, we’re on a mission: to help solve the planet’s plastic problem by changing how performance wear is made. This has been our driving premise since day one.

We’re starting small with socks, but that’s because when it comes to the environment, socks stink. They’re rarely recycled and often discarded, sitting in landfills for centuries, unable to biodegrade.

The tiny bits of plastic woven into activewear to create its stretch, strength and support are a driver of plastic pollution in our waterways. Roughly 3,500 trillion pieces of microplastics leak into our oceans every year from household laundry alone, according to a 2019 analysis by the Ocean Wise conservation group. And by 2050, these microplastics could outnumber ocean-dwelling fish unless we change course.

The need to change how we make performance clothing is ever clearer, uncomfortably so.

With innovative technology and smart design, we found a better way to create zero-waste performance socks that revert naturally to the earth when you’ve worn them out. It’s a start. Because made to last shouldn’t mean here forever.

How do you think your technology can address this?

Every pair of Definite socks that you buy effectively removes one plastic bottle from the planet. That’s remarkable when you pause to reflect upon the impact.

We go beyond using recycled plastic to actually reduce the amount of plastic in our environment. We do this by using a natural additive when spinning our yarns that creates tiny holes in the microplastics that are woven into our synthetic fabrics. This additive makes the synthetic yarns behave like natural fibers — so less like plastic and more like wool. The upshot here is our performance sock — which has the strength and stretch you want to carry you through the day — will revert to the earth when you’ve worn it out and it finds its way to a landfill because, let’s be honest, that’s where most socks land.

Studies performed on the CiCLO additive technology that we’re using suggest that the CiCLO-treated polyester and nylon will biodegrade far more quickly than your typical performance sock. We’re talking about a difference of five years to more than 100 years. That’s huge.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

The idea for Definite Articles took shape when my family, like yours, was sheltering in place soon after the pandemic began in 2019. I burned through six pairs of socks while pacing during phone calls, and that was during the first two weeks alone. With every toe hole or threadbare heel, I would toss a pair of socks and feel guilty because I knew where they’d land.

There’s no secondhand market for gently used socks. And the textile industry wasn’t — and still isn’t — to the point where there is large-scale textile recycling to create a continuous loop.

I knew enough about the apparel industry from our work with Untuckit to recognize the reality of the situation. So, I dove in.

Performance socks are a tough nut to sustainably crack. Shifting to sustainable fibers may be good for the planet, but those fibers don’t withstand much wear and tear. Yet relying on synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon that create performance characteristics most people want in an active sock isn’t ideal because those fossil-fuel fibers linger in our oceans or landfills for centuries, literally.

As I kept digging, researching and talking with experts in search of a better approach, I came across an innovative technology called CiCLO. It was the lightbulb moment for me.

How do you think this might change the world?

Our goal is to change how clothes are made, specifically performance wear. We are unabashedly ambitious here because, frankly, the situation calls for it.

If we can serve as agents of change, then we can spur the textile industry to be more thoughtful about how they create clothes with an eye toward the planet’s plastic problem and where they make clothes with an eye toward lessening their environmental footprint.

There is an a-ha moment on the horizon. We aim to hasten its arrival.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

We stand today at the starting point. While we truly have found a better way to create performance socks — the first zero-waste performance socks on the planet — this is not the ultimate solution to the plastic problem that threatens our environment. We cannot be complacent and let the gains we have made slow the pace of progress toward the finish line because we’re nowhere near there yet.

The ultimate answer to the planet’s plastic pollution and, more specifically, the clothing industry’s role in it is two-fold: first, to create a fully circular textile economy or second, to move away from synthetic yarns like nylon and polyester.

To clarify, by a fully circular textile economy, I refer to the process where you wear your pair of Definite socks and when you’re done, send them to a recycling center that will strip down the fibers, sell them to a mill where it will be spun anew into yarns and fashioned into another pair of socks. We either develop a loop like this or we shift to an alternative fabric that has the same stretch and strength that you want in your activewear but does not require fossil fuels. On either front, we’re not there yet.

Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”?

At Definite Articles, we leverage innovative technology to create the planet’s first zero-waste performance socks. And we’re just getting started. We believe by harnessing the latest in innovative technology and smart design, we can help to fundamentally change how activewear is made.

But the true innovation comes from the folks at CiCLO, who along with their partners at Parkdale Mills, sit at the forefront of sustainable textile innovation. They recognized the issue at hand — the performance wear we love for its strength and stretch takes a lasting toll on our planet. We leverage their innovation to find a better way to make zero-waste activewear starting from the ground up — with socks. But credit for the true innovation goes to them our partners Andrea Ferris and Alan McIntosh.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I would invite them to follow us at Definite Articles through the social media platforms where we are present — specifically, I would call out Instagram (#thedefiniteway) and LinkedIn.

We also view our web site itself — — as a channel to build community and engage around broader issues of combating plastic pollution that has a stronghold on our planet. So check us out, engage, we’d love to connect.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.



Jilea Hemmings
Authority Magazine

Founder Nourish + Bloom Market | Stretchy Hair Care I Author I Speaker I Eshe Consulting I Advocate For Diversity In Beauty