There is nothing like the clarity of ‘being in the Nau’ to guide you through the rugged terrain of today’s challenges. This evergreen activewear label is more than just a fashion phoenix reinventing itself during tough economic times, but also an innovator of sustainable fashion pieces that perform well technically and look street smart, too. If you are considering adding only one item to your fall wardrobe, consider the versatility and scope of Nau’s latest offerings as a way to add new dimension to your layering system as well as your attitudes about style as a catalyst for change.
We have been faithful followers of NAU from the get go, and like any good relationship, we have weathered the good and the bad times together with the idea that the world can indeed be a better place with closer examination of how we do and make things while also doing for others. One of the qualities that I admire most about NAU is the fact that they simply do not give up when it comes to trying to find an intelligent, almost too-good to be true design solution. Their women’s and men’s collections are consistently whittled down to smart wearable pieces, with product specifications (if you care to delve into such details) crafted for total eco-textile nerds. Nau understands that performance and tailoring must also hit a sweet spot that resonates with the consumer. Coupled with a true commitment to improve the life cycle of garments as well as calling upon direct input from their shoppers on environmental and social outreach efforts, Nau engages their followers in ways that few other companies can claim.
To get to the core of what makes Nau’s Fall 2009 collection more sustainable than in seasons past, I sent a few questions to Nau’s General Manager and Head of Product, Mark Galbraith. Here are a few excerpts from our dialogue as a means to delve into the grey matters of product design and sustainability:
AD: What inroads has NAU made on the sustainability front for the Fall 2009 collection? Are there any new eco textiles/materials that are being employed as a push towards improved sustainability and life cycle performance?
MG: This season, we focused our energy on pushing the limits of sustainability in both our wool and bag categories. A specific development for Fall 2009 is the improved aesthetic design of our recycled polyester. We now use two different dye types of recycled polyester (cationic and disperse) which are, for the first time, available in recycled yarns in order to create more interesting color and texture options.
Over 90% of our wool products also come from a traceable and verifiable source. All of our Merino 1, Merino 2, and Merino 3 fabrics are Zque certified and traceable, and we used recycled wool in our Men’s Transporter Blazer. Another innovative fabric is our Transporter Blazer ‘wool laminate fabric’. It uses recycled polyester on the face, laminated to a recycled poly knit, liner fabric. The result is a lightweight fabric that is wind proof, has a DWR (water repellant) finish, and is also machine washable.
It’s tough to choose which is our favorite material. It is quite contextual to the intended use. One favorite in recycled polyester is the Shroud of Purrin fabric, a soft shell fabrication with a woven recycled polyester face and a high loft knit poly Fleece back. It is kitten soft on the inside with a tough weather resistant face. We offer this versatile fabric in a jacket, hoody, and Trench for Men and Women and a Women’s only skirt.
AD: Putting materials and product aside, does Nau have any new partnerships with non-profits and foundations? Can you elaborate on the Partners for Change Program for our readers?
MG: Right now we have established relationships with five humanitarian and environmental non-profit organizations through our Partners for Change program. This is our customer directed giving program, where individual Nau customers direct 2% of their purchase to one of our Partners for Change. Our current Partners for Change include Kiva, Mercy Corps, Ecotrust, Ashoka and the Breakthrough Institute.
We integrated our Partners for Change giving program into the checkout section of our website. Customers engage with our donation process by reading about each organization before completing an order, and tell us where to direct 2% of their purchase. For our wholesale accounts, 2% of each order is directed to the same five Partners for Change, proportionate to what our online customers choose. We try to blur the line between for-profit and non-profit businesses, and support the organizations working to create lasting, positive solutions to some of our societies’ and planet’s most compelling environmental, social and humanitarian problems.
In addition to checking out Nau’s Fall 2009 collection currently available online, do not miss the opportunity to vote in their Grant for Change program where $10,000 will be granted to an individual (athlete, artist, activist, etc.) who is working to bring positive change to their community. “Whether it is a photo journalist creating awareness on climate change through visual storytelling or a designer prompting behavioral change towards sustainable living, Nau wants to hear how global citizens are making a difference.”
We also encourage you to vote for Inhabitat’s Senior Editor, Emily Pilloton, founder of Project H Design and creator of The Learning Landscape. Log in and vote until August 31st to help support the nominated individuals and their efforts to bring about change in conjunction with a company that recognizes that doing good is the best layer of protection.