Could Uniform Dressing Be The Future Of Sustainable Fashion?

16 September 2019
White t-shirt from Everlane's 'Uniform
White t-shirt from Everlane's 'Uniform
Menswear brands are cottoning on to the transformative power of the everyday uniform

Earlier this week, Everlane – the direct to consumer clothing brand famous for their expansive range of basics – launched a new men’s collection. Called the ‘Uniform’, the range is made up of no more than 12 pieces: a bomber jacket, a denim jacket, a hoodie, a crewneck sweater, a pair of jeans, four different t-shirt styles, a button-up oxford shirt, chinos and even underwear.

In theory, these 12 items of clothing are all a man should need to exist in the modern world. In reality, we’re probably going to need a few extra things – socks, for example, are somewhat fundamental.

(Above you can see a French Terry Hoodie in Navy, from Everlane's 'Uniform' range)

But the concept is pretty enticing, especially in the context of our relentlessly overstimulating culture. But it’s not just the Marie Kondo factor that makes Everlane’s Uniform appealing. Like all of the brand’s clothing, the men’s Uniform is sustainably made from ethically sourced fabrics.

It’s also been “rigorously tested” to withstand one year of heavy wash and wear. According to the brand, the Uniform has been exposed to the equivalent of 50 wash cycles, undergone 35 fabric trials and 117 individual fittings. Each of the 12 pieces (even the underwear!) comes with a 365-day warranty. If, on the 364th day of wear your French Terry Hoodie gets a hole in it, Everlane will straight up replace it.

(The colour of this bomber jacket above, from Everlane's 'Uniform', is called 'brushed pewter')

Although it might not look like it (the Uniform pretty much looks like every other one of Everlane’s streamlined basics), the theory behind the range is compelling. By selling this stuff with a one-year warranty, the San Fran-based brand is encouraging us to shop less frequently and wear the clothes we already own more.

If this seems counterproductive to building company profits, it’s not. The model is espoused by some of the apparel sector’s most successful start-ups, such as luggage company Away and footwear brand Allbirds. What it gives away in high sales frequency, it gains in consumer loyalty.

(Above, the model Paul Hameline strikes a pose for the new RAEY campaign. He is wearing this crisp white cotton shirt)

It's a trailblazer, but Everlane isn’t the only brand that’s moving toward the ‘uniform’ model for men. Matchesfashion’s in-house men’s label Raey is built around the concept of a seasonless, trendless wardrobe.

Crafted from high-quality materials such as selvedge denim and Japanese wool, the pieces from Raey are also made to last. There’s far more choice in terms of style, colour and fit than Everlane’s 12-piece Uniform, which means Raey isn’t built quite so literally with the sole purpose of curbing consumerism.

But by virtue of proffering crisp cotton separates and tonal outerwear, it invites us to shop from a place of functionality and practicality, rather than novelty and excess. Which is exactly what a uniform is about.

(This AS Colour 'Union' Jacket is pre-shrunk to minimise shrinkage)

Look, distilling our wardrobes down to a set of 12 items isn’t going to be for everyone. Fashion is a means of expression and for some, that expression is about excess and novelty and without that, fashion would just be... clothes.

But as the textile industry continues to pump carbon emissions into the atmosphere to meet our demand for newness, adopting a uniform that requires less shopping (and therefore lessens our demand for newness) makes a fair bit of sense.

Via GQ Australia