Radical Transparency: How Everlane is Changing Retail

The online-only clothing line Everlane welcomes visitors with a simple hashtag: #KnowYourFactories. This declaration prompts a deeper question, one we often shy away from: do we really know where our products come from? In an era plagued with child labor violations, unfair wages, and unsafe manufacturing, Everlane instead promises what they call “radical transparency”: the opportunity to know exactly who made that cute sweater you just ordered and what it really cost.

The San Francisco-based brand redefines the standards of ethical retail. Founder Michael Preysman sought to “fix” the retail system of large overhead costs and aggressive mark-ups in 2011. With a current evaluation of $250 million, it seems Everlane is on the right track for retail brilliance.

An Everlane men’s shirt

Today, with former Gap creative director Rebekka Bay the head of product and design, Everlane has expanded their product offerings. The Everlane closet is now just as diverse as its customers, offering Grade-A cashmere sweaters, Italian leather shoes, and Peruvian Pima tees. The global emphasis both of factory employees and materials makes Everlane a quintessentially current company.

Factory workers are celebrated at Everlane. Every Black Friday, the company donates part of their profits to directly benefit their workers via the Black Friday Fund initiative. Everlane issues a “compliance audit” for each factory, evaluating employee happiness and environmental working standards. Their website offers a map for customers to see the variety of factory locations that Everlane partners with and what is produced per each workplace.

A woman works at the Los Angeles factory

The Los Angeles factory, Mola Inc., is in charge of t-shirt garment dying. Mola is owned by Mr. Kim, and is one of the few mills in Los Angeles that also finishes the jersey cotton fabric. Their 120 employees are mainly women.

Factory owners Veronica (far left) and Ceci (center) oversee the work at the Lives SAC factory

The Everlane Pima cotton is picked by hand in Lima, Peru. The Lives SAC factory was founded by Theresa Telge, a former ranch owner. Lives SAC is now run by her three daughters, Veronica, Ceci, and Patricia.

The individual stories from a slew of other factories–leather in Vicenza, Italy; fleece in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; knitwear from Dongguan, China; and many more–just further shows how committed Everlane is to human rights and credible business.

The effortlessly chic element of Everlane

Yet Everlane is not just changing the face of factories. The retailer is also revolutionizing how to educate consumers on their products. Everlane makes sure that customers are aware of the exact cost of their purchase. The company–in an unprecedented sales strategy–is completely transparent not only with the source of their pieces but also their marginal profits. “We believe our customers have a right to know how much their clothes cost to make,” Everlane states. “We reveal the true costs behind all of our products—from materials to labor to transportation—then offer 
them to you, minus the traditional retail markup.” The website shows cost breakdowns for each item, ranging from raw material costs to transport fees.

The good conscience of Everlane just adds to the fashionable minimalist style that the brand radiates. Everlane offers garments for both men and women, ranging from sweaters to shoes. Recently, Everlane just announced the release of a jean. In true Everlane fashion, their concept of a jean is using Japanese denim with a lighter environmental footprint.

Everlane’s admirable company standards and adorable outfits both seem to be never-ending. Everlane continues to disrupt the retail terrain. We can’t wait to see what they do next.