Change Starts With Your Underwear

That’s what PACT, a new underwear company that launched yesterday says.

change-starts-with-your-underwear-pactAccording to their website marketing & press releases, at the core of PACT are “deep partnerships” with nonprofit organizations that work to create social and environmental change; each underwear collection is aligned with a nonprofit, with 10% of each sale given to support the matching organizations. “Internationally recognized artists and designers create graphic visualizations of each organization’s mission with underwear as their canvas” — with Yves Behar behind the first collections.

“In building PACT, we re-thought everything about the way underwear is made and marketed,” said Behar. “We’re not doing anything artificial or superficial, not with the body, not with the packaging and not with our partnerships. Our vision is to unite fashion and design with doing good in an authentic way, building a company that truly embodies 21st century needs, showing a new way for businesses to operate in the future.”

Unless, say, that business is in the United States…

Beginning with the farmers and ending with the final package arriving at your door, PACT strives to be as environmentally and socially responsible as possible. The farmers and cotton pickers involved in the growing and harvesting of the organic cotton were paid a fair price for their product. All fabric is dyed and printed using dyes and inks that are low-impact and free of heavy metals. Before it is shipped to PACT’s fulfillment center in Illinois, every element that goes into making your PACT underwear – growing the cotton, processing and spinning it, knitting or weaving, dyeing and printing, and cutting and sewing the final garment – occurs within a 100-mile radius in Turkey.

This is truly a regional manufacturing model that vastly reduces the carbon footprint of our supply chain. In fact, by manufacturing with a regional supply chain in Turkey and shipping the product in bulk to the US, our overall environmental impact is smaller than if we tried to manufacture the same product with a geographically fractured supply chain in the US.

I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but it seems to me that it would be most beneficial for “a company that truly embodies 21st century needs,” giving percentages of sales to US nonprofits, to have that company make their product in the US. Claims that this cannot be done in the US due to a “geographically fractured supply chain” are met by me with by assertions that there are many areas in the US (hello former textile towns!) which once did such things & would, especially in this economy, be only too happy to do so again.

Would it cost money to revamp old buildings? Yes. But it couldn’t be any worse than the cost of using the new colonialism of business abroad — until you factor in the long term wage differences. And that’s the key, isn’t it. That’s why you’re not peddling your fantastic “green” undies to people in the same 100-mile radius in Turkey — with the matching local nonprofit organizations, of course — because they probably couldn’t afford it on the low wages you pay them.

And are these really “green” undies? You want to make everything so green & wonderful over there — and then ship it here via freighter. (Didn’t we learn anything about the carbon footprint of shipping “green” cars & batteries?) Besides, once it gets to the docks, it’s gonna have to be trucked to Illinois, and then to individual homes.

See the problems here?

Change may indeed start with your underwear; but I think, especially in a case where you’re boasting of such a new way to do business — and green business too, that you’d be better to invest in the people & communities where you expect to sell your product. That’s sustainability. Of your target market, your company, & the planet.


  1. I agree. It does smell a little off. That it’s “better” to manufacture out of country and ship it over here. But I do like that they donate to non profits and use organic cotton.

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