The fashion industry is on the road to sustainability, and the main goal right now is circularity. That means a bigger focus than ever on clothes that reach the end of their lifespan and are broken down into materials. Those materials will then be turned into more clothes, dramatically reducing the amount of overall waste that the industry generates.
One company in the spotlight is Recover, a family-owned producer of recycled cotton fibers. Funded by majority shareholder Story3 Capital Partners, they recently achieved an over $1 billion valuation after getting a $100 million investment from Goldman Sachs.
Recover’s goal is to transform the fashion industry’s manufacturing practices and create a standard of “circular fashion for all.” Peter Comisar, head of Story3 Capital Partners, views their products as both sustainable and scalable — meaning they can retain their effectiveness in the long run.
Recover is already a main source of materials for several big-name brands, including Lands’ End, Inditex, Primark, and several others. By linking with these brands, Recover is making sustainable fashion more accessible and affordable — as well as more of the norm.
In addition, Recover’s recent investment from Goldman Sachs gives them the opportunity to grow their capacity for production. At the moment, they currently produce their recycled fibers in three countries — Spain, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. However, in the near future, they plan on increasing production by opening new facilities in Central America, Brazil, India, and Turkey.
Recover already has plans to open a production hub in Vietnam, and there’s a strategy behind that placement. In Comisar’s words, “We need to be close to where the waste is produced.” In other words, Recover aims to set up its production hubs in the neighborhoods of the fashion industry’s biggest polluters.
In addition, Recover plans to increase the amount of post-consumer waste that they’re able to turn into recycled fibers. Their emphasis on circularity started around 2018 after decades of working as a textile recycling company. Two years later, Story3 acquired the company, and the rest is history.
Peter Comisar also emphasizes the importance of sustainability initiatives on the consumer level. He’s spoken frequently about the growing concern for sustainability in fashion on the part of millennials and generation Z. In response to environmental and ethical concerns, Recover hopes to establish a reputation as a better option for both people and the planet.
The new generation of consumers has several specific concerns about the fashion industry, which fall under the umbrella of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. They include:
- Environmental concerns include a company’s policies related to climate, their use of energy, the amount of waste they generate, how much volume of pollutants they generate, and how many non-renewable resources they use.
- Social concerns include the treatment of workers, the impact on local communities, concern for employees’ safety, and compliance with local and federal labor laws.
- Governance concerns include transparency, a diverse board of directors, and checks and balances in place (the CEO can’t be the chair of a company’s board of directors, for example).
These criteria are all major concerns for millennials and gen-Z, two of the primary consumer demographics for the fashion industry. Comisar has observed that these two generations are more environmentally conscious than any before them — and with good reason.
With help from Story3 and their new investment from Goldman Sachs, Recover aims to become a household name in the next decade. Meanwhile, Peter Comisar continues to advocate for increased concern with sustainability on the part of investors and venture capitalists.
Peter Comisar recently took to the stage at Source Magazine’s Sustainability conference to discuss the subject of “Funding a Greener Future.” Speaking alongside several other notable VCs, Comisar emphasized the importance of sustainability initiatives that are scalable and can make a real change in the long run.
In addition, Comisar hopes to integrate Recover’s recycled fibers into more brands’ production practices, increasing Recover’s brand visibility in the process. Soon, Story3 hopes, circular fashion will become a familiar concept worldwide — and a global reality within the decade.
For now, Peter Comisar and his partners at Story3 encourage brands in the fashion industry to pay attention to consumers’ changing attitudes about sustainability. Now more than ever, it’s essential for companies to respond to the demand for more ethical, environmentally-conscious, and governmentally-compliant products.
In addition to their work with Recover, Story3 is partnered with the likes of Lands’ End, FIGS, The Black Tux, Harry’s, Perry Ellis, and many more.