The Un-PACT Review
I’ve spent a lot of time studying the fashion supply chain, especially textile production. I have five books just on the patterning of lingerie. And yet, every time I find a new sustainable lingerie brand, I end up thinking, “why does it have to be so expensive?” I’m a huge proponent of paying the right price for things, and I know frilly laces and low-impact dyes cost more, but I also know that there should be affordable basics. Somewhere between three pairs for $10 and one pair for $25, there must exist an essential range, responsibly made, with a price point to match.
I’m pretty sure I’ve found what I’m looking for in PACT.
Offering a range of soft and sustainable basics in pretty palettes, Pact manufacturers high-quality clothing with the worker, the consumer, and the environment in mind. The line is comprised mostly of organic cotton, with a bit of synthetic for “stretch and snug”; make sure you check the fiber content of each garment if that’s important to you, or take advantage of their search option, “100 Percent Cotton”.
My favorite purchase so far is the wide-neck stripey sweatshirt – the very act of wearing it feels like the most luxurious pampering. The simple print matches just about everything I own, and the extra large size drapes around me like a bear hug. I’m not exaggerating when I say, “if it’s clean, I’m probably already wearing it.”
An Organic Approach
The company manufactures in India, a decision the founders took very seriously. Since the PACT design is based on 100 percent organic cotton wherever possible, and the vast majority of organic cotton production is in India, it was a way for the brand to keep the sourcing local to the point of manufacture. Additionally, the brand seeks out fair trade factories, allowing for enrichment of the lives of the people who grow and sew their clothes, while keeping the sustainable loop intact.
“We promise not to be gross. Toxic dyes, pesticides, and bad attitudes have no place in your clothes. After all, there’s nothing more personal than what you put on your skin, so we take clothing VERY personally. Our ingredients are nice and clean, and our approach is just plain nice. We’d rather make friends than compromises.”
– WearPACT Apparel
One quick word of warning: hand wash. I’ve sent my clothing through some questionable cycles: old washers, laundromats, and cheap model machines. These may claim to have a delicate or hand wash cycle, but unless you have a quality, clean washing machine for all your laundry needs, I recommend filling the kitchen sink and getting your scrub on. Though the brand uses the construction techniques appropriate for the garments, the materials for undergarments tend to be lightweight.
The Truth Is In The Details
PACT is probably starting to sound too good to be true, and in many ways it is. Filling a niche in a rapidly growing industry is tricky work, but they rise to the challenge. However, with a product deemed “affordable,” there are going to be compromises.
- While PACT does work with free trade certified factories, the certification body is Free Trade USA, which is the most controversial of the certifying entities
- Transparency is limited – in an industry that calculates the cost of every stitch, any step taken by a company to provide more information to the consumer will cost money – companies like PACT have probably not experienced enough encouragement from customers to offset the added burden
- Eliminating synthetic fiber is not easily achieved without the added difficulty of additional cost as well as a redesign of most garments
- Offshore manufacturing, while not ideal as far as carbon footprint is concerned, PACT harnessed the concept as a way to support people in a developing nation
- Sustainable practices appear to be added to the business incrementally, rather than built into the framework – for example, there are tons of methods listed that meet all of the buzzword requirements, but there does not appear to be much effort from the company regarding office practices, reducing production waste, increasing minimum expectations within partnerships, etc.
The basic truth in the basics industry seems to be, as it is throughout all of life, that you get what you pay for. And if you can’t justify that locally handmade pair of peace-silk knickers sourced from the sustainable startup silk farm down the road, sewn by recovering drug addicts looking to start fresh, and carbon offset through old-growth reclamation projects, then PACT is probably the brand for you, too.