Eileen Fisher wants you to dig a little deeper. To spread the word about its social and environmental efforts, many of which are invisible to the casual customer, 50 percent of the apparel label’s print ads for fall will feature an oversized ampersand as a symbol of its broader mission to protect the planet, empower women and girls, and preserve traditional crafts and cultures. Among the products highlighted in the campaign are an undyed cashmere pullover, organic denim jeans from New York City, and a fair-trade organic-cotton sweater that provides income for the women of Peru.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE
“We’re inspired to tell deeper stories about our commitments to better practice,” Hilary Old, vice president of communications at Eileen Fisher, tells Ecouterre. “These stories come in all sizes. Together they add up to something Eileen talks about a lot: ‘business as a movement,’ the power to create positive change by making thoughtful choices.”
Eileen Fisher’s ampersand campaign offers a graphic way to connect its garments to their backstories.
Developed with the creatives at Bone & Black, Eileen Fisher’s ampersand campaign offers a graphic way to connect its garments to their backstories. “The ‘&’ symbol is simple and personal,” Old says. “It says ‘oh by the way, here’s something you may be interested in…'”
Roughly 25 percent of Eileen Fisher’s collection can be classified as “sustainable” through the use of Bluesign-certified dyes, color-grown and vegetable-dyed organic cottons, and creative partnerships with communities that employ generations-old techniques.
“It’s important to communicate that the journey to sustainability—for any industry, but certainly in clothing manufacturing—isn’t easy or obvious,” Old says. “We navigate it by challenging each other, arguing passionately, seeking out new ideas, and uncovering facts we wish weren’t true.”
Ongoing efforts by the company include hangtags with a checklist of sustainable attributes, such as eco-friendly fibers, low-impact colorants, or U.S. manufacturing. Returns of gently worn clothing are routed to Green Eileen, a resale shop in Yonkers, NY, that donates its proceeds to female-centric programs, including Girls Inc., the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, and the New York Women’s Foundation.
Each new choice, Old says, has a ripple effect. “It starts a conversation: with a supplier, a customer, a colleague at another socially responsible company,” she adds. “By doing a little bit more every day, we deepen our understanding of what is right and move our practices beyond business as usual.”