When we started Girlfriend Collective our first goal was to be as transparent as possible. So many companies tout transparency but only offer flashy headlines instead of substance. We chose every part of our process, from our raw materials to our facilities to our partners, with care.
We also discovered quickly that high-end fit and feel is not a matter of cost, it’s a matter of time. We take the time to make sure every single one of our designs is so beautiful that you won’t cycle through it the next time you look through your closet.
Beyond that, we wanted to find a community of people who cared about where their clothes come from as much as how they look. We're lucky to have found you. Take a look around, we're glad you're here.
Is everything eco-friendly?
We're like the earth's number one fan, so being eco-friendly is at the top of our priorities, as is giving you as much information as possible. Here’s a breakdown of each of our products and how it stacks up.
Packaging: Our packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable, so don’t throw it away!
Compressive Leggings + Bras: Made from 79% recycled polyester (or RPET) and 21% spandex, our leggings are made from 25 recycled post-consumer bottles and our bras are made from 11.
LITE Leggings: Made from recycled fishing nets and other waste using ECONYL® yarn, our LITE fabric is made up of 83% recycled nylon and 17% spandex.
Cupro: Our tees and tanks are 100% cupro, a delicate fiber made from waste the cotton industry leaves behind. Our yarn is made in a zero-waste, zero-emission facility in Japan, then constructed at our SA8000-certified factory in Hanoi.
Reusable Pouch: Our reusable pouch is made with the same RPET as our bras and leggings. So not only is it reusable and adorable, it’s just as good for the earth as the rest of our line.
How do you turn old water bottles into clothes?
Did you know almost all synthetic activewear is made from plastic? We just make ours with materials that would otherwise clog landfills and pollute the earth. It all starts with 100% post-consumer water bottles that have their labels removed, are crushed into billions of miniscule chips, and then washed until they’re sparkling clean.
After a bunch of science stuff with names like “polymerization,” you get a soft, recycled yarn that eliminates the need for petroleum and diverts water bottles from landfills at the same time. You can watch a video of the process here.
Where do you manufacture?
All of our textiles are made from recycled materials in our facility in Taiwan that specializes in eco-friendly and high-quality textiles, then cut-and-sewn in one of our partner facilities carefully chosen for their values and ethics. Our core factory is a magical place in Hanoi, Vietnam, that's SA8000 certified, guarantees fair wages, safe and healthy conditions, and zero forced or child labor.
SA8000 is a social accountability standard and certificate developed by Social Accountability International (SAI). They created this certification to help and protect workers worldwide by providing a standardized guideline to protect the integrity of workers’ conditions and wages. SA8000 overlaps with Fair Trade certification, but while Fair Trade is predominantly used for farming, SA8000 is a certification used in factory conditions.
Why Vietnam and not the USA?
You may not know it, but a lot of the best manufacturers for high-performance fabrics are located overseas. We know - we looked. The United States has great manufacturers for basic knitwear, but for our premium activewear the only machines up to the challenge were in Vietnam. Once we found our SA8000 certified manufacturer, we knew it was a match. Quality is everything to us, and we wanted to make sure we gave you the best product at the best price that you could find.
How do we know you’re really fair-trade, and using recycled fabrics?
We want to be as transparent as possible, so we're happy to share our certifications with you.
Our factory is SA8000 certified.This certification promises that our operation adheres to those super strict regulations that keep factory employees well-paid, safe, and living healthy lives.
Our recycled fabric is certified Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex, the world’s leader in testing fabrics to regulate harmful substances. They make sure every fabric’s origin and contents are totally upfront, so you know exactly what you’re putting on your body.
Is your recycled polyester BPA free?
Yes, it is. We understand why you’d want to check because there is a lot of confusion about what kind of plastic is floating around (pun very much intended), so let’s talk about it. Plastics that contain BPA are polycarbonates, or the type of plastic specifically used in reusable water bottles.
Our recycled PET is polyethylene terephthalate and is used in single-use water bottles and food containers. This type of plastic has been repeatedly tested for over 30 years for its safety. We say if it’s safe for your sandwich, it’s safe for your legs.
How do you dye?
Our fabric is dyed with eco-friendly dyes and the wastewater is carefully cleaned and cooled before it is released. (We even donate the dye mud to a local pavement facility where it’s recycled into sidewalks and roads.)
The unique dyeing process can result in some irregularities in color, which are not considered damages. Please note colors may run at first, so we recommend washing your new leggings separately or with similar colors just in case.
Taiwan, where we source all of our post-consumer water bottles, once struggled to clean up mass amounts of waste resulting from rising living standards and soaring consumption. A small island nation of 23 million people, the government saw the danger of ignoring the problem, and through widespread change has transformed Taiwan into a world leader in recycling, with 55% of waste being recycled (as opposed to 35% in the US).
Recycling is a community affair in Taiwan. Each night people gather to sort their waste into containers as a community — recyclables, food waste, and garbage. Rather than leave, they stay and talk until the trucks come and pick it up, turning what could be a tedious affair into a connective one.
Programs and volunteer groups have sprung up all over Taiwan to help bring this community spirit outside of city centers. We spent time documenting the Tzu Chi Foundation, which sets up micro-recycling centers in rural areas across Taipei. Run mostly by retired people, they set up drop-off points to both give people access and education to recycling, and to promote environmental stewardship in their free time.
Recycled fabrics start somewhere!
After all the bottles are sorted into their respective categories (#1, #2, #3, and #4 plastic), they are sent to their processing centers. Our leggings and bras are made from #1 plastic - or Polyethylene Terephthalate, also known as PET. Fun fact: All polyester (recycled or not) is derived from this type of plastic.
Our bottles are sorted, cleaned, and chipped into feedstock at the center. Our processing center is pretty special. It’s owned by a respected Taiwanese family that has been at the forefront of the recycling industry for decades.
We visited the facility and were blown away by what we learned. It’s not only trusted by the Taiwanese government, it’s certified by them too. Being government-certified means more than just having a certificate hanging on your wall saying that you can process plastic to resell. It means security
measures are implemented and each facility is subject to accountability for how much plastic is taken in and how much is shipped out.
Why is being certified so important? It is a well-known fact in the recycling industry that in places like China with loose certifications and accountability standards, many will lie about where they get their plastic. It’s actually much easier to buy new plastic water bottles and recycle them, than to collect and sort post-consumer bottles. Often, recyclers will recycle brand-new bottles as post-consumer bottles and sell them at a higher price to brands that are trying to use recyclables in their products. Gross.
At our facility, we have watched as bales of post-consumer bottles from all over Taiwan arrive at the facility. Each bale is weighed and logged. From there the bales go into a steam wash to remove caps and labels. After the caps and labels are removed, the bottles are sorted by color. We use the clear bottles for our fibers, and the colored bottles get sent elsewhere to be processed for myriad other uses.
Once the color sorting is done, we shred them down into tiny chips, wash them again, and place them in transport bags to be shipped to our manufacturing facility. Each bag is weighed and logged again to make sure that the output is equal to input. This ensures that we have an accurate count for how many bottles were used and can verify that they were the same bottles processed at arrival.