Parade’s Cami Téllez on How Gen Z Spirit Fuels Its Climate Roadmap

From the get-go, Parade — an underwear brand known for its splashy creative basics — has been bent on impact.

As of Tuesday, the label announced its science-based targets under the Science Based Targets Initiative. Parade said it will reduce its scope 1 and 2 (indirect) greenhouse gas emissions by 42 percent by 2030 (from a 2020 baseline), in line with the 1.5-degrees Celsius scenario defined by the Paris Agreement. The company joins lingerie makers Fruit of the Loom, Inc. and Hanesbrands, Inc., in committing to science-based targets.

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Parade’s fabrics trace a number of needs in its proprietary fabric blends with names like: Re:Play, Silk Mesh, SuperSoft, Cozy Waffle, Universal and Sport+. The core lines are 80 percent recycled nylon and 20 percent elastane. Many of its fabrics are recycled or responsibly sourced, as in the case of its Forest Stewardship Council-certified viscose or Tencel Lyocell fibers.

“For us, it starts at the fabric layer. But our approach to sustainability does not end there,” Parade’s founder, chief executive officer and creative director, Cami Téllez, said in an interview with WWD. Téllez revealed the company is already carbon neutral (working with Native Energy to offset the impact of each individual product) and is on track to becoming “climate positive” by 2025, leaning on efforts around renewable energy conversion in offices, waste diversion and circular design.

“Our climate impact plan includes a real holistic look at the entire business and our industry and the world,” she said. The roadmap builds on three areas: emissions reduction, collective action (or community impact) and innovation.

“We really believe this is an important step forward, not just in making promises, but actually backing our climate strategies with real science,” said Téllez. “Next, is to build a coalition of small and Gen Z-led businesses to share the knowledge that we’ve gathered and work together on sustainability solutions for our entire industry by 2023. We’re also creating a climate justice-informed roadmap to center the voices of historically excluded and vulnerable communities — often the people that are most impacted by global warming.”

As far as collective action, “That to us just means teaming up with the best people in the world to do more.” The company launched Project Parade, connecting the brand to more than 10,000 Parade Ambassadors and pledging $25,000 total with each chosen individual or organization receiving $1,000. The recipients have not yet been chosen but will be announced in the coming weeks.

In January, the company launched its free underwear recycling program, “Second Life” by Parade, a brand agnostic national underwear recycling program powered by TerraCycle. Since launch, the brand has upcycled roughly 30,000 pairs into things like insulation and carpeting. (This compares to the 3.5 million pairs sold since the company’s inception in 2019).

Parade already has its own Parade Product Score (or sustainability label for all of its products) which was developed with Eco-Age using existing research from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Although the data is not based on Parade’s own LCAs or existing frameworks regulators are aligning on, each total score is said to reflect an individual product’s impact. The company is also looking to invest more in upstream activities, including a proprietary supplier seal (initiating its own auditing) by 2023.

By 2023, per its commitments, 100 percent of its cotton will be “responsibly sourced.” And by 2025, 100 percent of its materials, including elastane and trims, are set to come from certified recycled or bio-based sources. Today, Parade’s products use 80 percent to 95 recycled materials. The goal is to get to 100 percent by 2023. Parade’s packaging (including cards and stickers) are already recyclable or biodegradable. Additionally, 100 percent of Parade’s factory partners are WRAP SA 8000 or Fair Trade Certified, according to Téllez. “And 1,000 of our partners have signed the supplier code of business integrity which requires that they pay in line with the global minimum wage standard.”

Reflecting on its impact in only a few year’s time, Téllez reiterated: “I am incredibly proud of Parade’s contribution in the category in terms of equity in fashion, in terms of bringing sustainability to the mass market, celebrating all types of bodies and people from all different backgrounds.

“I have always believed that we will reach a better point in the industry through working together as a community and through championing individuals no matter who they are,” she said. “I’m excited to see other brands join us as we continue to revolutionize the category and hand back the underwear industry to the customer.”

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