Rethinking Plastics: The Girlfriend Collective

By Marie Clark

I received an email earlier this week announcing that the leggings I bought back in January aren’t going to arrive until mid-April. But I’m not upset at all. I will wait patiently for these pants because they come with a secret and surprising worth.

The pair of leggings I purchased are the only product currently on sale by Girlfriend Collective. Committed to making a change instead of using the quickest route, they are using recycled fabrics which are cut and sewn at their own facility. Along with caring about their products, they are seeking “a community of people who cared about where their clothes come from as much as how they look.”

The company is putting their focus on treating employees the right way and putting money into their products instead of marketing. But what really encouraged me to get on board with their brand was that every pair of leggings are crafted from recycled water bottles being woven into polyester. They certainly aren’t the only company doing this sustainable action; Prana is crafting recycled materials into almost every product they make. They were opening up business with a BANG. They offered a free pair of leggings to fall in love with their product! It was an offer that is now over but I’m super excited to see the finished product soon.

Their reason for this campaign was to give their market segment a sample so that we can get to know a product by trying it ourselves. They are able to make this possible because their advertising budget is completely dedicated to getting their leggings into our hands for as affordable a price as possible. So, it is on their customers to spread the word on how they are as a brand. It is the way old businesses used to run before lots of ad space became available. I believe it will be extremely successful as a marketing campaign as social media and word of mouth is already powerful enough to have made me heard about the brand.

Their thread starts when the post-consumer plastic bottles go through a steam wash to remove labels and caps and sorted. Then they are shredded into chips, washed again, and transported to manufacturing. The spinning mill takes the chips, washes and dries them again before sending them to heat up and get processed into long spaghetti strands. Then, they are chipped into pellets, heated again, and processed into thread that is hair- thin that gets spun into a soft yarn. There are a lot of steps to make the bottles into the fabric, but compared to letting it sit in a landfill, these leggings are an awesome use of otherwise wasted material. I’m really excited for what products Girlfriend Collective comes out with next. Reduce the waste you create, reuse what you can, and in the end, recycle the plastic you use, it just might end up having a second life within your clothing.

One of Girlfriends’ happy customers showing the flexibility of her new recycled leggings. 

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