Textile Insight

July / August 2018

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Page 49 of 59

TRENDSETTER | OUTDOOR GoLite Resets Product is as "Lightweight as it Needs to Be," and Sustainability Remains Core. By Suzanne Blecher BACK IN 2009, GOLITE EXECUTIVES HAD BIG dreams. The U.S. retailer hoped to use 100 percent environmentally preferred materials by 2015. Plans had been in place to become carbon neutral by 2010. GoLite was one of the first B Corporations out there and had just released its first EcoIndex. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned. Sustainable materials and DWR sparred at the compromise of performance. Recycled shell fabric (to be used in shorts) cost 80 percent more than virgin polyester, thus digging into margins. Retail faltered. "Although they were very thorough and dedicated, it sounds like they were a little overextended," said GoLite's new design director for apparel, Caroline MacMillan. With new life and a new owner, MacMillan provides an update on the brand's purpose-driven business plan. What drew you to the GoLite brand? "When I joined a year ago, it was the inception stage and the three of us were just brainstorming ideas about how we were going to bring this back to market. One thing that's challenging is making sure you have a reason for being. We asked why are we doing this? We picked up where they left off and at the same time, we're trying to tie in a humanitarian focus in helping serve a greater need beyond environmentally." What's important now in bringing the brand back? "On the product side, we're not focusing as much on ultra-light, since other brands do that really well. We are going as lightweight as it needs to be to perform well. It's stripped down." Did you ever think about changing the name of the brand? "For some die-hard fans, it will be a tough transition and a tough sell. People ask when we're going to bring a certain backpack back –probably never – but we hope they'll like our new stuff. We decided it's a strong name. We still believe in the core concept behind it – it's light on the planet, light in the closet and light on the trail. It still makes sense for us." How has the outdoor world changed since the brand started in 1998? "There's just so much merging with lifestyle and outdoor in clothing and gear. Athleisure is a trend that isn't going away because it's very practical and comfortable. We're trying to bring an outdoor sensibility to that trend and bring that merge one step further. Not the plaid, not the cargo pants, but the more streamlined version of that, outletics." Will the apparel and gear be very technical? "It's still technical with wicking, quick dry and odor management. We'll have lightweight outer- wear. Almost everything in the line has stretch. We aren't cutting corners there." What are some of your hero products for the Spring 2019 launch? "One big story is our ReGreen story. We're not only using recycled polyester but taking the green bottles which would normally have industrial usage or go straight to landfills, using them for fabric. It has this pale green color once it's finished. We're using waterless printing techniques and doing an eco-DWR finish on top for our packable ReGreen Windshell. We'd like to expand that in to other areas. Our ReBound collection exemplifies that perfect balance as well – it's not the lightest, but it has great shape retention." How has your professional background prepared you for this role? "It's a funny trajectory. ExOfficio is a little more lifestyle. Royal Robbins had a natural focus. At Nube9, everything was recycled and made in the USA. Even our fabrics were made in the USA. That was really an education. We're trying to find out what the supply chain is in Asia for something like that." How does your love for travel and the outdoors play into your design inspiration? "It's hard for that not to be the first filter you put things through. Would I wear this on vacation? For yoga? Is someone else doing it better? For me, I pride myself on being a light packer, bringing what I need and nothing more. What features do I absolutely need? It's like designing my ideal closet." What other pieces will we see in the line? "We'll have base knits, hoodies, leggings, athletic shorts and outer- wear. Our underwear will be really fun – we have that background. We've got recycled content, Polygiene and a great weight fabric that holds it shape, but is quick drying. We've done a lot of wear testing and there's no pilling. It comes out of the wash looking exactly like it came in." Any specific goals for the brand? "We are already exceeding 80 percent of the line having some recycled or sustainability story to it, so we want to surpass that each year. We want to explore becoming a B Corp again. There's a lot more to explore in the recycled fiber arena. I'm also interested in zero waste patterning. We want to look at it from all sides. That will take up a lot of our energy!" O GoLite Design Director for Apparel, Caroline MacMillan 50 • Textile Insight ~ July/August 2018 textileinsight.com

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