Posted on April 14 2022
In honor of Earth month and Earth Day we wanted to highlight a brand that is making a movement when it comes to sustainable fashion - The Big Favorite, a brand that sells super soft, perfect-fitting, 100% recyclable pima cotton tees, tops, and underwear. The Big Favorite has a revolutionary take-back program for their undergarments, diverting typical textile waste from landfills and transforming it into new yarn.
Founder Eleanor Turner, has over a decade of experience working in the fashion industry, co-founding the women’s work apparel brand Argent and designing for iconic companies like Tommy Hilfiger, Tory Burch and J. Crew. Eleanor saw a big gap in the industry for a legacy brand that runs on a circular, earth-friendly system. Enter Eleanor's vision for The Big Favorite: starting with undergarments, the one category remaining that can’t be donated or resold, the goal is to revolutionize fashion’s footprint from the bottom up. Find out more about Eleanor and The Big Favorite.
ALLY Shoes: Tell us about the history behind The Big Favorite and your new vision for the brand.
Eleanor: The Big Favorite was originally established by my great grandfather in the 1930s as a brand selling reliable cotton workwear. He sold it to Dickies in the 1960s and I didn’t know about it until I was literally studying it in college! His vision for The Big Favorite was to give people a better choice in their work clothes. We’ve taken the brand’s high-quality roots and given it a new mission. Our goal is to set a new, zero-waste standard for basics, beginning with first layers like tees and underwear. We’re here to make the most reliable clothes on the planet, for the planet.
ALLY Shoes: How has your background in fashion impacted your vision for The Big Favorite?
Eleanor: Honestly, I had an epiphany after working around the clock in fashion for over a decade. I started learning that all of my joy, ambition, determination and most importantly, time, went to creating things that would eventually end up as trash on the other side of the planet. The Big Favorite has quantified that 11 millions of pounds of undergarment textile waste end up in the trash every day in the U.S. It’s the one category that can’t really be donated or resold. That’s when I started researching zero waste and circular economies and decided I wanted The Big Favorite to flip linear take-make-waste fashion on its head!
ALLY Shoes: How do you ensure quality and zero waste in your production process?
Eleanor: I lean on my industry knowledge and long-time relationships. That means I only work with factories that I trust and have developed relationships with over time. I also go visit every vendor we work with in person. When you can kick over some rocks, it reveals a lot and helps strengthen these relationships into true partnerships. The goal isn’t to haggle over pennies or better ways of manufacturing, but working together on a shared goal.
ALLY Shoes: What do you see as the next step for the fashion industry to take in order to become more earth-friendly?
Eleanor: It starts with education and knowing the impact the fashion industry has on this planet. Millions of clothing items will be produced each year and millions of pounds of clothing will also end up in landfills. Of those millions of items, about 60-85% are made with plastic fibers. Yes, polyester is plastic. The plastic in our clothes is one of the biggest contributors to the microplastics in our oceans and causes autoimmune diseases and even cancer. My hope is to raise awareness around how toxic plastic is in order to inspire other brands to design it out. One tiny step forward could be to switch to eco-friendly packaging that isn’t made of plastic.
ALLY Shoes: For everyday consumers, what can each and every one of us do to contribute to a more sustainable fashion system?
Eleanor: The most sustainable item is the one that’s already in your closet. That said, sometimes we wear these things out, like shoes or underwear! The best thing that you can do when purchasing a new item, is do it thoughtfully. Make sure it’s something you love and bonus points if it’s comfortable. People say they wear things more often and longer when it’s comfy. I encourage people to check the content labels too - buy natural when you can!
ALLY Shoes Who is your biggest ally?
Eleanor: My biggest ally is my husband, Charles. He’s been my cheerleader through the best and worst of times. He gives me perspective, balances me out, and always encourages me to have fun. Sometimes he’s even our fit model!