Pretty Things: The Perfect Basics at GRANA
Since paring down my wardrobe to a shell of its former self, I have become ruthless about letting new pieces into my closet. That's because getting rid of stuff I eventually ruin or hate is a horrible process, as I detailed in a story for The Huffington Post last fall.
The more stuff I own, the more stuff I eventually have to responsibly discard, unless I want to continuously contribute to the 21 billion pounds (and growing!) of textile waste each year (and that's just in the U.S.). Most goods we donate to places like Goodwill and Salvation Army do not end up clothing people in need. The items usually end up in landfills, as if we had just thrown them in the trash to begin with.
So, as you may imagine, shopping has not been high on my list these past few months. Besides the fact that I vowed to stop purchasing items from fast-fashion retailers, I also added a few more requirements about clothing purchases going forward.
1. The clothes must be comfortable -- all days of the month!
2. They have to be manufactured under ethical conditions.
I rarely go shopping and find things that meet both these requirements. And it's often hard to find retailers that are transparent about their manufacturing processes, unless of course, that's a key part of their business plans. So when I walked by GRANA, a small shop in Hong Kong's SoHo neighborhood that featured a sparsely decorated front window, I was intrigued.
GRANA is direct-to-consumer online fashion brand that uses fabrics from all over the world, makes the pieces in Hong Kong and ships to customers in 12 countries around the world. The company has a similar business model to Warby Parker and Everlane. The retailer keeps quality high and prices low by cutting out middle men in their supply chain processes that could drive up costs. The prices, GRANA says, are honest. They sell clothes for a 2.5x mark-up, which is well below the industry standard. And every so often, they have sales where customers can purchase the clothes at cost.
The company sources pima cotton from Peru, silk and satin from China, denim and chambray from Japan, linen from Ireland, cashmere from Mongolia and wool from Italy. Comfort is key at GRANA. In fact, its founder, Luke Grana, started the company with one product: a classic T-shirt, made from high quality cotton sold at a transparent price. He sold out of 2,000 tees in 3 weeks.
Now the company sells a variety of basics -- dresses, shirts, pants, shorts, etc. -- and recently launched an athleisure line. While everything is done online, folks in Hong Kong can stop by the Fitting Room, which has exactly one sample of every item in every size available. Try on garments, place the order at a computer in-store, and the items will be delivered in two business days.
GRANA plans to expand its Fitting Room pop-ups as the company grows. A fitting room is headed to New York City next month.