I’m the COO of Adore Me. Adore Me is a brand that sells beautiful, accessible, empowering lingerie and women’s apparel. It’s a brand that is dedicated to doing good — to serving our customers and the world at large. But Adore Me — as you know it today — is a brand, it’s not a mission.
That changes now. For a long time I have grappled with how to weave our commitment to sustainability, empowerment, and social responsibility into the very core of our brand and our being. We have dedicated efforts to reduce waste in our manufacturing, using sustainable products and shipping methods, and to empower our customers and our communities with measurable impact. But it isn’t enough.
Today is the revolution, and I call on all our teams and all of you to join Adore Me to Embrace Life & Disrupt Fashion.
But first let me provide some context…
The Bamboo Ecosystem
Adore Me today is strong. It has not always been that way. Seven years ago we were starting out from nothing, eating ramen on pull-out couches, and figuring out how to disrupt a fully entrenched industry. Then, as now, we saw an opportunity to deliver a better product, at a better price point, to more people in more sizes than anyone in the industry, to allow everyone to Embrace Life. It was not an easy road. We faced ups and downs and bumps along the way, some of which threatened our very core. But we did it.
We built an extremely strong ecosystem in the fashion industry, with strong revenues, brick-and-mortar stores, an amazing warehouse, and over three hundred talented, savvy, energetic employees serving millions of customers.
How did we get there? It’s hard to say, but I think it’s a mix of elegance, tech-savviness, insanity, a love for data, and stubbornness.
Our employees form the core of our growth. On each bump of our journey we stuck together and we grew. We grew deeper, taller, wider… like bamboo. Bamboo is simultaneously soft and strong. I like to think of each of our team member as a stalk of bamboo. Each bamboo is strong enough to withstand storms, strong enough to repel challenges to the culture we’ve built, and yet soft enough to work together.
But even stronger than each individual bamboo is a forest full of them. In a forest, each bamboo is connected — underground, unseen — always growing under your feet. That’s what we are. I’m proud that Adore Me’s bamboo forest is extremely strong because our people are able to think strategically, analyze data, and trust each other across teams.
How This Relates to our Strategy
Bamboos, it turns out, are extremely good at challenging the norm. The bamboos of Adore Me have constantly challenged and defied expectations about how a fashion company is “supposed” to be run. We never believed that ecomm sites have to outsource tech (we have a bamboo forest in Bucharest that permits us to be exceptionally agile and responsive); we never believed that warehouses have to involve underappreciated labor (we have bamboos in Secaucus NJ who form the backbone of our ability to deliver products to customers); and most importantly — we never believed we need angels to sell bras (our bamboos support real women in real life). Female empowerment isn’t built on top of our business model: it is our business model, it is our product. All this to say, a smart, growing bamboo forest of passionate people can challenge any norm.
But once your forest is already thriving, what’s next?
Companies Need to Consider the Environment More Than Ever
And what’s a bamboo forest to do when the world’s literal forests are being hacked to the ground with alarming speed? With consumers, well, consuming more than ever before, it’s imperative to consider the implications for the planet. The textile industry is the second-most polluting industry in the world behind oil. The fashion industry is on track to use a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by the year 2050. One garbage truck of clothes is burned or sent to landfills every second. The average consumer continues to buy 50% percent more clothes in 2019 than in 2018, but keeps each garment for half as long.
This is literally, figuratively, systemically, not sustainable for us or for our planet, and we at Adore Me are no longer satisfied with doing just what we can. We’ve made inroads in manufacturing using sustainable materials. Recycling fashion is complicated, but we’ve started to create products made from upcycled materials (our collection of upcycled panties from our spring collection comes to mind). But there’s always more we can do. In 2019 and beyond it is not enough to simply try.
It is time for a fashion revolution.
In the next five months, we will announce a slate of new initiatives aimed to match our ambitions, including new brands with either a sustainability, empowerment or community focus, partnerships with five fashion schools in five continents to challenge budding designers to make change in the industry, and much more. We hope to gradually disrupt the entire fashion industry by showing that it’s possible to articulate Fashion with the Greater Good.
We’ll invest $5 million to do this: in products, in people, in marketing. This is a real number for us: 5% of our yearly revenue.
And we believe we can disrupt fashion. Who can do it more than us right now? The leading mainstream lingerie brand isn’t getting the job done and the fashion luxury houses aren’t accessible enough to the average consumer. Many brands today care about social responsibility purely for optics. They know it makes them look good, but they don’t care about changing the world. We do care about changing the world. And when brands legitimately care, everyone wins.
Our plan: Embrace Life, Disrupt Fashion
The next five months will be the busiest time since Adore Me launched — but the payoff will be great. It has to be — there is no alternative. Some businesses are asking themselves what we should do. But we don’t ask these questions. We already know it’s our duty. Change starts now. And we can’t lose. Even if competitors copy our mission, everyone wins! We want to share this strategy and our goals. Changing the landscape of the fashion industry and the world must be a group effort.
Even if we don’t move fast enough, at the very least, we can credibly look into our children’s eyes and say, “we did our best.” But we hope we still have time to change the industry and save the planet. The point of this fashion revolution is to preserve life on earth.
This is an urgent project and one that we’ll move swiftly on. We’ll share our journey. Sometimes we’ll share good news, sometimes struggles. You can follow us on www.embracelifedisruptfashion.com or #embracelifedisruptfashion on Instagram.
For my part, I will make sure the Adore Me bamboo never gives up, never compromises, always outsmarts the industry, and always cares for both our customers and our communities.
The bottom line is: The fashion industry desperately needs a shake-up, and we’re here to lead the change.
Embrace Life, Disrupt Fashion
We want to make fashion a force for good. And I know we’ll succeed. Stay tuned!