Business Guide

What does being “sustainable'' mean? It is a complex term and at Varsity Headwear, we find it extremely difficult to label anything being truly “sustainable”. In our eyes, sustainability can mean so many different things and has a multitude of layers, depending on a business's area of expertise and interests. So how can a fashion brand be coined truly  “sustainable”?

For us, being a “sustainable” business means investing and building a company for the long term. From the beginning that has always been our goal, but we continue to learn along the way. We believe that in order to be more sustainable, we must continue learning, improving and challenging our current practices. We are sharing some of the key learnings that have helped shape sustainability at Varsity Headwear, with the hope to inspire other businesses to build better businesses for the future alongside us.

Varsity Headwear - Break Line

Our Key Learnings

Defining Sustainability

To navigate our sustainability journey, we follow the UN’s Sustainability Goals (outlined below). We selected the goals that we could make the biggest positive impact on and that were most applicable to our business. This keeps our small team focused on the areas that we can make a real difference in our business.

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Supplier and Factory Relationships

From the beginning it has been extremely important to us to work with top quality factories and supplier partners around the world. We have a code of conduct and factory screening tool that we have always used, to comply with our standards of how we work (you can read more here). Building relationships, visiting regularly and understanding your suppliers and factories has been so important for us when building a more sustainable business framework. 

Designing Products That Last

Our most significant takeaway from learning more about sustainability is the impact product longevity has on sustainability. The longer you’re able to extend the life of a garment, the better. According to a report by WRAP, clothes typically have an average life of two years in your closet. But if you can extend that to closer to three years, it reduces its carbon, water, and waste footprint by 20 to 30 percent. Therefore our main goal when designing products is to increase the cap’s longevity and desirability. 

We to do that by focusing on:

  • Timeless Design - colors and styles that can outlast trends.

  • Quality Products - by focusing on high-quality materials and craftsmanship.

  • Product Composition - simplify the number of materials that go into a product to make end of life handling easier - how easy is it to recycle or upcycle?

  • Repair Capabilities - design with repairs in mind for components that might get more wear. 

  • Interchangeable Parts - so that each component is used to its full potential. For example a metal logo and strap has a much longer potential life than the exterior fabric. 

  • Volume and Size - design products with shipping volume in mind by trying to be as efficient as possible on all shipments. For example:

    • Custom optimized packaging on all bulk products shipments.

    • Custom optimized ecommerce packaging.

Educating and Informing Customers

Our customers play an important role in the overall impact of our business and products. Here are simple ways that we encourage improving our own consumers behavior:

  • Facilitate and educate customers to measure themselves. For us this means offering free measurement tapes before purchasing and tutorials online.

  • Not encouraging discount driven sales - we believe that customers should purchase a cap when they need it.

  • Offering product cleaning accessories to encourage product care.

  • Help customers select the right product, in hopes they will continue to use it for years. 

Read our full consumer guide with Gro Haram, Director of Sustainabiity at NF&TA, here.

Rethinking and Taking Responsibility

We aim to be as honest and transparent with our business practices as possible. It is our responsibility to on all of our decisions and the impact of our business. For us it has been important to set ambitious, yet realistic and measurable goals for not only the short term (yearly) but also creating a 3 year sustainability road map. This holds us accountable to achieve incremental improvements and opens us up to criticism – because how else would we develop!