Written by Eleanor Turner
Close to three years ago, I was smack dab in the middle of starting my first successful DTC company. I lived in a 350 sq. ft. cave of an apartment in the East Village in Manhattan with one window that didn’t show sunlight until at least 1pm. That apartment didn’t have a washer/dryer and, given my workload, I never had time to do laundry. One cold February night, just before a trip to the west coast, I had no clean underwear to take with me. I found myself in a Walgreens aisle at 10pm searching for any quick solution. That quick solution turned out to be a Valentine’s Day-themed 6-pack of Hanes. Hanging from a metal hook and wrapped in plastic; I grabbed the last pack. It felt like Brillo and was humiliating to purchase. It was so bad, it sparked an idea, so I held onto one of the originals, pictured below.
"Understuff is underrated, and The Big Favorite has some pretty [big] plans for these [small] clothes."
I had two key takeaways in that moment. One: why is this my only convenient and affordable option for something I need on the fly? And two: what an incredible opportunity for physical retail space. If you know DTC, you understand why that's important. A super convenient location, but the assortment is crap.
After working for over a decade in corporate fashion for companies like J.Crew, Tory Burch, and Tommy Hilfiger, and starting my first company from the ground up in NYC, I began to realize the consequences of my choices. Every single one, from vendor selection right down to design, and the choice of a button, had an impact on an unforeseen massive scale. Less than 1% of material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing, representing a loss of more than $100B worth of materials each year according to Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Sadly, all of the products I touched during that decade-plus in the fashion industry will end up mostly as trash.
"11M pounds of undergarment textile waste goes into U.S. landfills or incinerators daily. DAILY."
It was that realization that led to tons of research. I landed on a figure that was so overwhelming and shocking that it could not be ignored. 11M pounds of undergarment textile waste goes into U.S. landfills or incinerators daily. DAILY. Why? Undergarments are the one clothing category that can’t be resold or donated. Those matching undies you got for you and your beau? Trash in a season. The screen printed tee with a quirky quote from [insert popular Netflix show here]? Burned and pushed out into the atmosphere.
But I’m not here to shame. I’m offering a solution.
That’s why we’ve proudly introduced a revolutionary take-back program for our undergarments, diverting typical textile waste from landfills and transforming it into a future resource. Understuff is underrated, and The Big Favorite has some pretty [big] plans for these [small] clothes.