Meanwhile back at the Brick and Mortar scene….

October 31, 2014 Leave a comment

Uniqlo, A.P.C., and Others Are All Part of L.A.’s Boutique Blitz

September 23, 2014 Fashion Add a comment

Finding yourself a little lost at the watercooler as coworkers swoon over the latest store openings? If you don’t know your Muji from your Uniqlo, allow us to bring you up to speed on the flurry of clothing and jewelry shops that launched in L.A. this year.

A.P.C.
The goods:
Crisp cardigans, black-and-white-striped boat-neck shirts, fitted denim, trench coats, leather bags.
Who shops here: Effortlessly dressed Parisian women- and those who wish to look like them.
8420 Melrose Pl., West Hollywood, 323-297-0414.

Bonobos
The goods:
Well-made classic menswear (suits, blazers, chinos, oxford shirts) in Easter egg colors.
Who shops here: With-it dads who adhere to the philosophy “real men wear pink.”
101 S. La Brea Ave., L.A., 323-954-6800.

COS
The goods:
Tailored everyday clothing with flair (asymmetric-hem T-shirts, leather tank tops) from the folks who brought you H&M. Opens this month.
Who shops here: Quiet trendsetters.
357 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills.

The Fisher Project
The goods:
An offshoot of Eileen Fisher that offers younger customers slimmer versions of the brand’s slouchy silhouettes.
Who shops here: Career gals who favor an edgy, relaxed style.
113 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Grove, 424-302-0467.

Gypsy05
The goods:
Tie-dyed scarves, bohemian maxi dresses, tribal-print jumpsuits.
Who shops here: Sophisticated moms with a hippie streak.

8811 Alden Dr., Beverly Grove, 424-302-0632.

Irene Neuwirth
The goods:
Statement jewelry—some of it one-of-a-kind—set with precious stones (diamonds, opals) and rare gems (chryoprase, rhodochrosite). Opens this month.
Who shops here: Elegant women who seem to be perpetually bound for the Greek islands.
8458 Melrose Pl., West Hollywood.

The Kooples
The goods: Rock and roll-inspired ensembles (think Patti Smith) from a company intent on pushing coupledom; its advertising campaign features androgynous twosomes in matching outfits.
Who shops here:Those who are no longer single.
100 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Grove, 424-335-0041.

Muji
The goods:
Durable organic cotton clothing for the comfort driven.
Who shops here: Stylish sleepwalkers who believe that daywear should be as cozy as pj’s.
7021 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323-785-2013.

Uniqlo
The goods:
Affordable basics with an East Coast preppie vibe (plaid shirts, leggings, ironic tees). Opens this month.
Who shops here: Recovering American Apparel addicts.
Beverly Center, 8500 Beverly Blvd., Beverly Grove.

Zadig & Voltaire
The goods:
Rebellious takes on sheer paneled blouses, boxy sweaters, and structured dresses that pair well with a confident attitude.
Who shops here: Fashionable urbanites with no time for tourists or last-season sales.
8640 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-358-9616.

- See more at: http://www.lamag.com/theclutch/uniqlo-p-c-part-l-s-boutique-blitz/#sthash.BNNUvv3Y.dpuf

Categories: Uncategorized

A brief history of Levi’s and wannabe’s

October 31, 2014 Leave a comment

New Short Book 11 1 14

A brief history of blue jeans

by Robert Hackett @rhhackett SEPTEMBER 18, 2014, 7:21 AM EDT
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Who would have thought a pair of pants would morph into an icon? Here, a few highlights in the long story of an American pioneer.

From workaday outerwear to the laps of multi-billionaires, blue jeans have withstood the wear and tear of time as an American icon.

Originally called overalls (even without the straps), the pants evolved from a practical solution to protect the laboring limbs of workers to a style suiting just about every demographic. The garment has fit the thighs of miners, farmhands, cowboys, rebels, hippies, rockers, hip-hop artists, fashionistas and businesspeople alike. Even Apple founder Steve Jobs adopted them, along with a black mock turtleneck, as his signature look.

Heck, you’ve probably worn a pair, too.

So how did a humble Gold Rush-era innovation in trousers come to define a nation? Fortune spoke with Levi Strauss historian and archivist Tracey Panek about the evolution of the attire. With her help and some research of our own, here’s a selection of the most important moments in denim history.

1967: Paul Newman: denim-on-denim. Enough said.
Photo: Getty Images

1853

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Photo: Fotosearch/Getty Images
Bavarian immigrant and entrepreneur Levi Strauss cashes in on the Gold Rush by moving from San Francisco to found a wholesale dry goods business, Levi Strauss & Co. He didn’t mine for gold—directly.

1873

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Photo: Courtesy Levi Strauss & Co. Archives
Latvian émigré and tailor Jacob Davis and his fabric supplier, Strauss, patent and manufacture the “XX” pants, later dubbed the 501. The U.S. government grants the pair U.S. Patent No. 139,121 for rivet-reinforced pants under the heading, “IMPROVEMENT IN FASTENING POCKET-OPENINGS.”

1914

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Photo: Everett Collection
Silent film actor William Hart stars in massively popular westerns wearing jeans, pioneering the image of the blue-jean-clad Western hero. After WWI, his celebrity gets a boost as the U.S. film industry—unlike that in war-torn Europe—flourishes
1939

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Photo: Bettmann/Corbis
John Wayne stars in the western film Stagecoach wearing a par of Levi’s 501s. There are some things a man just can’t run away from…

1940s

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Photo: PhotoQuest/Getty Images
U.S. soldiers and sailors serving overseas act as inadvertent ambassadors for jeans, introducing them as casual wear around the globe.

1951

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Photo Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises
Singer-actor extraordinaire Bing Crosby gets turned away from a fancy Canadian hotel for wearing all denim. Levi & Strauss sends him a custom denim tuxedo with a “Notice to All Hotel Men” declaring the outfit acceptable formal attire, thus allegedly originating the term “Canadian tuxedo.” (Richard Branson ordered and wore a replica recently.)
1953

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Photo: Getty Images
Marlon Brando makes the 501 even edgier in the classic motorcycle gang film The Wild One. Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?

1954

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Photo: John Swope —Time LIfe Pictures/Getty
Norma jeans? Marilyn Monroe pumps up the sex appeal of blue jeans in River of No Return. A New York Times critic observes, “It is a toss-up whether the scenery or the adornment of Marilyn Monroe is the feature of greater attraction.” Guess jeans later recreates the pose in ads featuring Anna Nicole Smith, among other models.

1954

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Photo: Advertising Archive/Courtesy Everett Collection
Got a light? The marketing campaign “Marlboro Man” debuts as the tobacco industry seeks to make filtered cigarettes more masculine through association with cowboy attire, including denim of course. Giddyup.
1967

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Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane records trippy radio advertisements for white Levi’s.

1967

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Photo: Getty Images
Paul Newman: denim-on-denim. Enough said.

1970

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Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Hey ho, let’s go. Punk rockers The Ramones liked their jeans cut snug and skinny. They showed off their signature look on the cover of their 1977 record, “Rocket to Russia.” Not even ripped knees could stop those cretins from hoppin’.
1976

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Photo: Evelyn Floret— The Life Images Collection/Getty
Heiress Gloria Vanderbilt launches her designer denim jeans. Never one to miss a beat, Saturday Night Live comedian Gilda Radner later jokes, “She’s taken her good family name and put it on the asses of America.”

1979

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Photo: Warner Bros/Everett Collection
Scantily clad Catherine Bach wears ultra-short “Daisy Dukes” in The Dukes of Hazzard TV series. Celeb Jessica Simpson later reprises the role on film in 2005.

1980s

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Photo: Ron Galella—WireImage
Hip-hop popularizes baggy jeans. On the opposite end of the spectrum, punk rockers and metalheads stick to skinny jeans.
1981

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Photo: Gaslight Advertising Archives
Fifteen-year-old supermodel Brooke Shields shocks audiences with in a Calvin Klein designer jeans ad. “You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins?” she asks. “Nothing.”.

1984

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Tom Gralish—Zumapress.com
Born in the USA? Heck, yeah. Bruce Springsteen’s 501-swadled buttocks stand guard in front of an American flag. You can bet he danced in the dark in those, too.

2000

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Photo: Mark J. Terrill—AP
“Time magazine names Levi’s 501s the “Fashion Item of the 20th Century.” A year later, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears take that counsel to the extreme on the red carpet at the 2001 American Music Awards.
2009

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Photo: Haraz N. Ghanbari—AP
President Barack Obama throws the opening pitch at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in what commentators described as “mom” jeans. He later tells comedian Zach Galifianakis, “The truth is, generally I look very sharp in jeans.”

2014

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Photo: Kevin Terrell—AP
The Field of Jeans. Levi’s Stadium opens as the new home of the San Francisco 49ers. And so blue jeans come full circle, from gold rush to pass rush.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Levi’s Underwear

October 31, 2014 Leave a comment

MAD Projects Industries has stripped down Levi’s Basics to a bare minimum. Undergarments are packaged multi-functionally with a universal substrate of wood. The boxer Brief is pouched in kraft paper, slipped into a cardboard box and embellished with a polka-dotted match-strike. The “Truck” is stored in a tray box, printed with wood grain and finished with the garment logo. Finally, rediscovered Long Socks of Mr. Strauss are “hipsterified” and tucked inside a mason jar with a bonus needle and thread.

 Levis_Basics_Packaging_051314_hr-1.jpg

“The 200 series box is designed as a working match strike. The 300 series is a resealable Tyvek bag, perfect for keeping coffee grounds fresh. And the 400 series is made of authentic wood paneling.

“To launch Levi’s Basics, the brand’s new line of men’s socks, t-shirts and underwear, Mad Projects (the licensee behind the brand) knew they had to think outside of the traditional 3-pack of briefs. With a product that stands out for its traditional denim elements, they wanted a package that was both aesthetically pleasing and functional. Each package of the 3 Series line is designed to be a keepsake, a memento and used for more than just holding boxers on store shelves.”


Categories: Uncategorized

GOP to Kick 7 Million from Voter Rolls in 27 States

October 30, 2014 Leave a comment

Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voters from the rolls. Millions, especially black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, are at risk. Already, tens of thousands have been removed in at least one battleground state, and the numbers are expected to climb, according to a six-month-long, nationwide investigation by Al Jazeera America.At the heart of this voter-roll scrub is the InterstateCrosscheck program, which has generated a master list of nearly 7 million names. Officials say that these names represent legions of fraudsters who are not only registered but have actually voted in two or more states in the same election — a felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.

There are 6,951,484 names on the target list of the 28 states in the Crosscheck group; each of them represents a suspected double voter whose registration has now become subject to challenge and removal. According to a 2013 presentation by Kobach to the National Association of State Election Directors, the program is a highly sophisticated voter-fraud-detection system. The sample matches he showed his audience included the following criteria: first, last and middle name or initial; date of birth; suffixes; and Social Security number, or at least its last four digits.

The thing is, they aren’t actually trying to accurately match purported two-state voters. People with different Social Security numbers, and/or different middle names are being accused of being the same person. According to the article, 23% of the names on the Crosscheck list have non-matching middle names. In other words, they are two entirely different people.

In Virginia alone, more than 40,000 have already been flagged as ineligible to vote, thanks to Crosscheck.

I recommend reading the entire article – it’s the sort of piece that leaves a lump in the pit of your stomach. I just hope the DOJ intervenes in time to reverse this outrageous scheme.

http://projects.aljazeera.com/2014/double-voters/index.html

Categories: Uncategorized

How She Leads: Letitia Webster, VF

October 30, 2014 Leave a comment

green biz

How She Leads: Letitia Webster, VF

Thursday, August 14, 2014 – 12:01am

 

Image of Letitia Webster courtesy of VF

 

How She Leads is a regular GreenBiz feature spotlighting the careers of women who have moved into influential roles in sustainable business.

Outdoor enthusiast Letitia Webster’s five years of experience launching and leading the well-regarded North Face sustainability program made her a logical choice to spearhead the corporate-wide initiative at parent company VF, established in 2011.

Since then, Webster has focused on defining processes to help VF’s highly visible brands — including North Face, Timberland and Nautica — deliver on their sustainable business aspirations. Two of her biggest tactical projects: readying VF’s 2014 sustainability report (in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative guidelines) and creating an internal scorecard for tracking and reporting energy and carbon emissions reductions.

What’s up next? VF’s senior director of corporate responsibility shares her ideas for phase two of the program, which will include adopting aggressive water conservation measures and building an in-house wiki for helping brands and business units share best practices, and why she regards sustainability as an “ultra-marathon.”

Heather Clancy: You’ve got quite a few things going on. What’s your top priority?

Letitia Webster: When I got here it was pretty much a clean slate, which is great, but at the same time it wasn’t much to work with. So my first strategy was building a foundation; it was building governance structure, management systems, implementing data management, hiring a staff and team, understanding our footprint, doing measurements. That’s culminating in our first sustainability report that’s going to be coming out in just a couple of months.

My priority is getting that report out, and starting to think about how we transition from sustainability strategy 1.0, which is building a program and building infrastructure, to what I’m calling 2.0, which is unlocking the value of sustainability for the corporation and really thinking about how sustainability can actually drive revenue growth, build brand equity and help the corporation meet our 17 by 17 growth plan — $17 billion [in revenue] by 2017.

Clancy: Who is helping you with that?

Webster: I report into finance. So I report into the head, the CFO and the chief accounting officer and controller. VF is a very financially disciplined company — that’s something that we’re very well known for. I am challenged to really help provide perspective in terms of what is the value for the company. The leadership team is eager, and I think it will only help accelerate our program. So our leaders are thinking about how we integrate sustainability throughout the organization. I think really being able to cement [that concept] in dollars and cents and its value is really going to help. The short answer is finance is really helping me think that through.

Clancy: Where will that lead you first? Is there a particular area that’s got your attention as a result or are you kind of finetuning your priorities underneath that?

Webster: To be honest, it’s a little too early to determine where we’re headed. I think what we’re doing is overlaying our traditional sustainability materiality assessments that we’ve done with stakeholders with our key business strategies and key business drivers, like direct-to-consumer, international, strategy and innovation. Then we’re layering in what is the risk assessment, cost reductions and revenue upside sustainability can bring? Ideally, this will help us identify the big things we need to be focusing in on. Does that make sense?

 VFClancy: OK, let me ask you about something specific: water conservation. What’s new for you on that front? Is there anything in particular?

Webster: Water is one of the biggest impacts we have: water use, not only in the growing of raw materials and the processing of fiber — especially around synthetics and dyeing and finishing — but also in consumer use. So it’s a major issue. Let me back up for just a second here. VF is unique in that we produce 30 percent of our product in our owned and operated factories throughout mostly Central America. That’s very unique [among] apparel companies. What that allows us to do — and we’ve been doing it for 100 years — is really control those costs, right? So we manage those resources, energy and water and materials down to the nano; we’re very careful about how we manage those.

We’ve done a really good job in our own manufacturing [processes] of reducing our water. I’ll give you an example. In our factory in Torreon, Mexico, where it’s a finishing factory, a washhouse, too, we have recycled and are reusing 45 percent of our water right now. We have new technology coming in by the end of the year that will actually recycle water by 85 percent. …

We have a lot of those kinds of examples, especially around wastewater. That’s another big issue for apparel, wastewater, because we use a lot of chemicals. That said, we are embarking on developing an overall water strategy for VF starting next year. That’s the next big thing I’m focused on. We really focused on carbon and energy for the first two years, developing a climate change strategy. We are now moving into water and really thinking about a water strategy: where do we use our water, how do we use our water, where do we have risk in our supply chain around water scarcity, what materials are at risk due to climate change and the impacts it has on water in different regions. Whether it’s flooding or droughts or the need to reallocate water to communities versus agriculture, those are real issues that we have to be paying attention to.

Clancy: What are your thoughts on improving the rate of apparel reuse or repurposing? 

Webster: Obviously a good portion of our products are [made from] cotton, but [in addition] a good portion of our products are synthetics. So if you think about a synthetic, a synthetic is — and this is true for cotton, too — a synthetic is trapped energy. Synthetics are mostly petroleum-based. Many of our products that we’re doing with synthetics are just recycled PET plastic water bottles. Basically what we can do with a North Face jacket that’s a synthetic is re-melt it down and make it into something new. So you need to think about how we reuse that jacket, not just in terms of consumer reuse, but how we take it back and actually make it into something new.

 VFTo me that’s one concept around reuse and recycling. But then there’s that other concept of the sharing economy and how that is just growing and growing and we’re seeing it even in outdoor equipment. A lot of people don’t want to buy one tent for one camping trip every couple of years, so how do we think about our business models and start thinking about how we promote that sharing economy, how do we ensure that we’re having those conversations with the consumers and the customers as well.

Clancy: You’re obviously working on the corporate strategy, but that sits over some very distinct brands known for their environmental policies — NorthFace, Timberland and Nautica among them. How do you give them the freedom to innovate? The fact that you’re working on this big corporate strategy and approach, how does that permeate back to them now? 

Webster: We tell them keep the pedal on the metal and just keep going. We continually encourage them to be innovative, think about sustainability and how it resonates with our consumers, how to make more commercial sustainable products. Our responsibility is when to enable that and how we do enable it. There’s a couple of different ways we can do that. Then, our responsibility is how we share those learnings and best practices with the rest of the organization, right? So we don’t want to inhibit them, but we do want to take those learnings, best practices and share them with the other brands.

One thing we are doing is we’ve got innovation centers, outside of sustainability, that we’re working with to embed sustainability into the innovation process. We’re building very strategic innovation centers. We’ve got one here in Greensboro, N.C., around jeanswear. We have one in Alameda, Calif., that’s part of the North Face building around technical apparel, and we’ve got one around technical footwear based in Stratham, N.H., next to the Timberland office. Those innovation centers are there to absolutely propel those businesses and keep them cutting-edge, and our job is to embed a sustainability lens into them.

Clancy: What lessons from North Face are you encouraging other brands to adopt?

Webster: North Face is one of the biggest brands in the outdoor industry and around some of these technical fabrics. We really started looking at our volume and our scale and the impact we have at some mills. One of the things we asked is, “Okay, what can we do around materials?” Because that’s really where the impact is. So, we went after the materials that have the biggest impacts and then layered in which the biggest volume materials. Then worked at the mills to solve some of that through a group called Bluesign [which has created a platform for sustainable textile production], among other things. So we had the volume and the scale on our side so we could get price parity, and that was a crucial, crucial piece to this and we could only do it because of the scale we had at that mill. So I think that’s key because the materials we chose go across a bunch of different products and a bunch of different categories and suddenly we have a story, right? The designers got excited because suddenly that material was in many different categories and they could all kind of embrace some sustainability; it wasn’t just exclusive to one product or one category, but suddenly we were raising the bar across VF.

Clancy: What’s been your most effective strategy for employee engagement?

Webster: I think it’s actually coming. We are doing a couple things; one is we just finished, as part of this strategy 1.0, a huge scorecard collection. So we literally created this online survey, that’s basically called a scorecard, and it went to every single facility, every single brand, every single retail store, and we asked very detailed questions about all of their activities around sustainability. So everything from community service to steps around products and materials to obviously energy, waste, water — all these kinds of practices.

We just are getting that data back, crunching it, cleaning it up and getting it organized. At the same time — now that we’ve got this data — we’re launching this tool on SharePoint as part of our intranet called our sustainability wiki. It is an in-house toolkit basically and resource center around sustainability for all of our associates to go in and find out what they can do, what best practices are out there, what they can learn from other people. The scorecards with all of their data crunched up and all kinds of basic business intelligence tools will be in that wiki.

The combination of those two together, I think, is going to be the most powerful engagement tool we have, because information is power. We’re going to be able to basically say, “Here’s one facility,” and compare it to another. Here’s a coalition, there’s a coalition; a brand versus brand, country versus country. You can basically slice and dice the information in a thousand different ways, and we can start creating some friendly competition. But we can also say, “Hey, if your facility or your products are not where you want them to be, here are tools, expertise, resources that you can go and can help you solve and unlock the potential you have.” Or “Here’s my e-mail; just call me,” or “Here’s some of the brands that are doing cool things; call them.”

Clancy: What’s your most pressing concern or challenge and how you’re tackling it?

Webster: The complexity and the decentralization of VF. We sit here at world headquarters in Greensboro, but frankly we have probably [just] 500, 600 people at world headquarters — we have 60,000 employees. So how do we get them all excited and enthused and understand what they can do and how important it is for them to do it?

 Manny Valdes via FlickrI always say sustainability is a team sport. My team, we’re not that big. I’ve got a few people and it’s great and they’re powerful and smart and bright. [But] we can’t turn VF into a sustainable operation; we need everyone. I think about how do we align everyone? How do we get everyone moving on the same track so it’s not this shotgun-fragmented approach, but it’s laser-focused; we’re all moving in the same direction, we’re all aligned in what we need to accomplish. It’s hard when you literally have brand offices all over the world.

Clancy: Who has been your most inspirational mentor?

Webster: Frankly I’ve been very fortunate; I’ve had a couple. … One of the most important things that I learned from one of my mentors was, especially around sustainability, because sometimes the thinking isn’t out-of-the-box, a lot of people just aren’t ready for it, and you’ve got to meet people where they are. You can’t go into a meeting and start talking about shared value if they don’t even understand what in the world sustainability is. You’ve got to understand where that organization is, what drives that organization, and meet it where it is and be able to integrate sustainability into the culture. Do not underestimate culture.

Clancy: What advice would you give to someone aspiring to a career similar to yours?

Webster: I think two things besides what I just said. Persistence: you just have to keep at it. It’s not a sprint and it’s not a marathon; it’s an ultra-marathon. You just have to stay at it. Also, go where the momentum is. You’re always going to have naysayers or people dragging their feet or saying it can’t be done, but you will find pods of people who have enthusiasm, they’re passionate, they want to do something. Go there. Go there and prove it. Go there and find a bright spot. Go there and find a result. When you start illustrating some success and people get onboard, they begin increasing confidence in you and can trust you as a team and as a function. They’ll be more willing to open up once they see that there’s some success out there.

How She Leads

How She Leads: Letitia Webster, VF

Thursday, August 14, 2014 – 12:01am

 

Image of Letitia Webster courtesy of VF

 

How She Leads is a regular GreenBiz feature spotlighting the careers of women who have moved into influential roles in sustainable business.

Outdoor enthusiast Letitia Webster’s five years of experience launching and leading the well-regarded North Face sustainability program made her a logical choice to spearhead the corporate-wide initiative at parent company VF, established in 2011.

Since then, Webster has focused on defining processes to help VF’s highly visible brands — including North Face, Timberland and Nautica — deliver on their sustainable business aspirations. Two of her biggest tactical projects: readying VF’s 2014 sustainability report (in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative guidelines) and creating an internal scorecard for tracking and reporting energy and carbon emissions reductions.

What’s up next? VF’s senior director of corporate responsibility shares her ideas for phase two of the program, which will include adopting aggressive water conservation measures and building an in-house wiki for helping brands and business units share best practices, and why she regards sustainability as an “ultra-marathon.”

Heather Clancy: You’ve got quite a few things going on. What’s your top priority?

Letitia Webster: When I got here it was pretty much a clean slate, which is great, but at the same time it wasn’t much to work with. So my first strategy was building a foundation; it was building governance structure, management systems, implementing data management, hiring a staff and team, understanding our footprint, doing measurements. That’s culminating in our first sustainability report that’s going to be coming out in just a couple of months.

My priority is getting that report out, and starting to think about how we transition from sustainability strategy 1.0, which is building a program and building infrastructure, to what I’m calling 2.0, which is unlocking the value of sustainability for the corporation and really thinking about how sustainability can actually drive revenue growth, build brand equity and help the corporation meet our 17 by 17 growth plan — $17 billion [in revenue] by 2017.

Clancy: Who is helping you with that?

Webster: I report into finance. So I report into the head, the CFO and the chief accounting officer and controller. VF is a very financially disciplined company — that’s something that we’re very well known for. I am challenged to really help provide perspective in terms of what is the value for the company. The leadership team is eager, and I think it will only help accelerate our program. So our leaders are thinking about how we integrate sustainability throughout the organization. I think really being able to cement [that concept] in dollars and cents and its value is really going to help. The short answer is finance is really helping me think that through.

Clancy: Where will that lead you first? Is there a particular area that’s got your attention as a result or are you kind of finetuning your priorities underneath that?

Webster: To be honest, it’s a little too early to determine where we’re headed. I think what we’re doing is overlaying our traditional sustainability materiality assessments that we’ve done with stakeholders with our key business strategies and key business drivers, like direct-to-consumer, international, strategy and innovation. Then we’re layering in what is the risk assessment, cost reductions and revenue upside sustainability can bring? Ideally, this will help us identify the big things we need to be focusing in on. Does that make sense?

 VFClancy: OK, let me ask you about something specific: water conservation. What’s new for you on that front? Is there anything in particular?

Webster: Water is one of the biggest impacts we have: water use, not only in the growing of raw materials and the processing of fiber — especially around synthetics and dyeing and finishing — but also in consumer use. So it’s a major issue. Let me back up for just a second here. VF is unique in that we produce 30 percent of our product in our owned and operated factories throughout mostly Central America. That’s very unique [among] apparel companies. What that allows us to do — and we’ve been doing it for 100 years — is really control those costs, right? So we manage those resources, energy and water and materials down to the nano; we’re very careful about how we manage those.

We’ve done a really good job in our own manufacturing [processes] of reducing our water. I’ll give you an example. In our factory in Torreon, Mexico, where it’s a finishing factory, a washhouse, too, we have recycled and are reusing 45 percent of our water right now. We have new technology coming in by the end of the year that will actually recycle water by 85 percent. …

We have a lot of those kinds of examples, especially around wastewater. That’s another big issue for apparel, wastewater, because we use a lot of chemicals. That said, we are embarking on developing an overall water strategy for VF starting next year. That’s the next big thing I’m focused on. We really focused on carbon and energy for the first two years, developing a climate change strategy. We are now moving into water and really thinking about a water strategy: where do we use our water, how do we use our water, where do we have risk in our supply chain around water scarcity, what materials are at risk due to climate change and the impacts it has on water in different regions. Whether it’s flooding or droughts or the need to reallocate water to communities versus agriculture, those are real issues that we have to be paying attention to.

Clancy: What are your thoughts on improving the rate of apparel reuse or repurposing? 

Webster: Obviously a good portion of our products are [made from] cotton, but [in addition] a good portion of our products are synthetics. So if you think about a synthetic, a synthetic is — and this is true for cotton, too — a synthetic is trapped energy. Synthetics are mostly petroleum-based. Many of our products that we’re doing with synthetics are just recycled PET plastic water bottles. Basically what we can do with a North Face jacket that’s a synthetic is re-melt it down and make it into something new. So you need to think about how we reuse that jacket, not just in terms of consumer reuse, but how we take it back and actually make it into something new.

 VFTo me that’s one concept around reuse and recycling. But then there’s that other concept of the sharing economy and how that is just growing and growing and we’re seeing it even in outdoor equipment. A lot of people don’t want to buy one tent for one camping trip every couple of years, so how do we think about our business models and start thinking about how we promote that sharing economy, how do we ensure that we’re having those conversations with the consumers and the customers as well.

Clancy: You’re obviously working on the corporate strategy, but that sits over some very distinct brands known for their environmental policies — NorthFace, Timberland and Nautica among them. How do you give them the freedom to innovate? The fact that you’re working on this big corporate strategy and approach, how does that permeate back to them now? 

Webster: We tell them keep the pedal on the metal and just keep going. We continually encourage them to be innovative, think about sustainability and how it resonates with our consumers, how to make more commercial sustainable products. Our responsibility is when to enable that and how we do enable it. There’s a couple of different ways we can do that. Then, our responsibility is how we share those learnings and best practices with the rest of the organization, right? So we don’t want to inhibit them, but we do want to take those learnings, best practices and share them with the other brands.

One thing we are doing is we’ve got innovation centers, outside of sustainability, that we’re working with to embed sustainability into the innovation process. We’re building very strategic innovation centers. We’ve got one here in Greensboro, N.C., around jeanswear. We have one in Alameda, Calif., that’s part of the North Face building around technical apparel, and we’ve got one around technical footwear based in Stratham, N.H., next to the Timberland office. Those innovation centers are there to absolutely propel those businesses and keep them cutting-edge, and our job is to embed a sustainability lens into them.

Clancy: What lessons from North Face are you encouraging other brands to adopt?

Webster: North Face is one of the biggest brands in the outdoor industry and around some of these technical fabrics. We really started looking at our volume and our scale and the impact we have at some mills. One of the things we asked is, “Okay, what can we do around materials?” Because that’s really where the impact is. So, we went after the materials that have the biggest impacts and then layered in which the biggest volume materials. Then worked at the mills to solve some of that through a group called Bluesign [which has created a platform for sustainable textile production], among other things. So we had the volume and the scale on our side so we could get price parity, and that was a crucial, crucial piece to this and we could only do it because of the scale we had at that mill. So I think that’s key because the materials we chose go across a bunch of different products and a bunch of different categories and suddenly we have a story, right? The designers got excited because suddenly that material was in many different categories and they could all kind of embrace some sustainability; it wasn’t just exclusive to one product or one category, but suddenly we were raising the bar across VF.

Clancy: What’s been your most effective strategy for employee engagement?

Webster: I think it’s actually coming. We are doing a couple things; one is we just finished, as part of this strategy 1.0, a huge scorecard collection. So we literally created this online survey, that’s basically called a scorecard, and it went to every single facility, every single brand, every single retail store, and we asked very detailed questions about all of their activities around sustainability. So everything from community service to steps around products and materials to obviously energy, waste, water — all these kinds of practices.

We just are getting that data back, crunching it, cleaning it up and getting it organized. At the same time — now that we’ve got this data — we’re launching this tool on SharePoint as part of our intranet called our sustainability wiki. It is an in-house toolkit basically and resource center around sustainability for all of our associates to go in and find out what they can do, what best practices are out there, what they can learn from other people. The scorecards with all of their data crunched up and all kinds of basic business intelligence tools will be in that wiki.

The combination of those two together, I think, is going to be the most powerful engagement tool we have, because information is power. We’re going to be able to basically say, “Here’s one facility,” and compare it to another. Here’s a coalition, there’s a coalition; a brand versus brand, country versus country. You can basically slice and dice the information in a thousand different ways, and we can start creating some friendly competition. But we can also say, “Hey, if your facility or your products are not where you want them to be, here are tools, expertise, resources that you can go and can help you solve and unlock the potential you have.” Or “Here’s my e-mail; just call me,” or “Here’s some of the brands that are doing cool things; call them.”

Clancy: What’s your most pressing concern or challenge and how you’re tackling it?

Webster: The complexity and the decentralization of VF. We sit here at world headquarters in Greensboro, but frankly we have probably [just] 500, 600 people at world headquarters — we have 60,000 employees. So how do we get them all excited and enthused and understand what they can do and how important it is for them to do it?

 Manny Valdes via FlickrI always say sustainability is a team sport. My team, we’re not that big. I’ve got a few people and it’s great and they’re powerful and smart and bright. [But] we can’t turn VF into a sustainable operation; we need everyone. I think about how do we align everyone? How do we get everyone moving on the same track so it’s not this shotgun-fragmented approach, but it’s laser-focused; we’re all moving in the same direction, we’re all aligned in what we need to accomplish. It’s hard when you literally have brand offices all over the world.

Clancy: Who has been your most inspirational mentor?

Webster: Frankly I’ve been very fortunate; I’ve had a couple. … One of the most important things that I learned from one of my mentors was, especially around sustainability, because sometimes the thinking isn’t out-of-the-box, a lot of people just aren’t ready for it, and you’ve got to meet people where they are. You can’t go into a meeting and start talking about shared value if they don’t even understand what in the world sustainability is. You’ve got to understand where that organization is, what drives that organization, and meet it where it is and be able to integrate sustainability into the culture. Do not underestimate culture.

Clancy: What advice would you give to someone aspiring to a career similar to yours?

Webster: I think two things besides what I just said. Persistence: you just have to keep at it. It’s not a sprint and it’s not a marathon; it’s an ultra-marathon. You just have to stay at it. Also, go where the momentum is. You’re always going to have naysayers or people dragging their feet or saying it can’t be done, but you will find pods of people who have enthusiasm, they’re passionate, they want to do something. Go there. Go there and prove it. Go there and find a bright spot. Go there and find a result. When you start illustrating some success and people get onboard, they begin increasing confidence in you and can trust you as a team and as a function. They’ll be more willing to open up once they see that there’s some success out there.

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