This sustainable loop also is a new twist on the long-standing practice of apparel companies partnering with nonprofits. Fashion giants like Eileen Fisher and Levis Strauss & Co. long have given grants to nonprofits that promote human rights and sustainability. What is new, however, about Cole + Parker’s approach, is the loan repayment piece. Its partner, Kiva, channels 100 percent of the loans Kiva receives to a global network of microfinance institutions. They, in turn, provide loans to entrepreneurs, who then repay the loans. To date, Kiva’s loans total more than $426 million with a 99 percent repayment rate.
Cole + Parker‘s new models, and its bright, geometric-patterned socks, have traction. The company’s recent Indiegogo campaign more than doubled its initial goal. With a catchy story, the straightforward slogan “Socks that Start Businesses,” and contributor perks of sock swag, Cole + Parker raised $42,609 for a first production run. The run’s bounty are available online at Cole + Parker’s site: bold, urban men’s and women’s socks with names like “Launch,” “IPO,” and “Bubble” that harken to the founders’ finance and tech roots – and the company’s creation.
Now, with funds underfoot, we asked Charabin if Cole + Parker will stride toward sustainability. “Absolutely” says Charabin. “[Sustainability is] part of C+P core values. We’re seeking out opportunities to adopt principles, policies, and practices that improve the quality of life for our customers and employees. We want our business practice strategies to demonstrate commitment to a healthy and sustainable future. We’re always keeping our eyes peeled for the greening products.” And Ecouterre will keep its eyes peeled too, watching how Cole + Parker’s bold socks bridge sustainable fashion and peer-to-peer funding.