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Drive Season 2, Episode 2: Reformation’s Yael Aflalo On Finding a Sustainable Focus

BoF meets Reformation Founder and CEO Yael Aflalo, who created her brand in 2009 around the idea of upcycling, after years of frustration battling with inefficiencies of the fashion wholesale system.
Yael Aflalo Founder and CEO of Reformation, for Drive.
Yael Aflalo Founder and CEO of Reformation, for Drive. BoF.
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In a new season of Drive, BoF’s entrepreneurship podcast series delivered by DHL, we meet some of fashion’s most dynamic leaders who are adopting sustainable solutions within the businesses they founded.

In this episode, BoF meets Reformation Founder and CEO Yael Aflalo, who created her brand in 2009, upcycling vintage clothes after years of frustration battling with the unsustainable inefficiencies of the fashion wholesale system. Sales in 2019 are projected to be north of $150 million and have grown year-on-year at a rate of 60 percent.

Aflalo pivoted towards a more sustainable approach five years ago. “I was working on a project for Urban Outfitters to make shoes,” she tells BoF, “and that’s when I had this moment where I was confronted by really horrifying pollution in China. After a few days of thinking about it, I realised that I needed to start a sustainable fashion brand.”

Once she’d made that decision, Aflalo’s commitment to sustainable thinking influenced her entire strategy. She chose to emphasise accessible pricing and transparent communication. “I hired a consultant, and asked, 'What are the problems with fashion? How can we make it better?' She gave us a list of the biggest problem areas and reading materials. Then, wrote a list of where we could be really impactful, the things that we could do given our limited resources, and we started to embark on that.”

Since then, Reformation’s strategy has continued to lead industry conversations around this field, with programmes in recycling and the circular economy. "It's super important to have a holistic approach. Having a business mind, as a business owner you think holistically. But you also have to think about, what are the one or two things that I can do that are going to have the biggest impact for the smallest lift? That's really how we think about it, and that is [its] fibre.”

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