My favorite thing about fair fashion is the stories—stories about the humans who make our clothes and stories behind why some brands are completely changing fashion.
People of Leisure is one of those brands. Their clothes are fairly made, fairly priced(!) and pretty much the coziest things you could ever hope to put on your boday.
I was lucky enough to hop on the phone with their founder, Bobby Banafsheian, to talk fair practices, Zero Sweat, conscious living and loads more.
(Plus, right now you can take 20% off with the code POLSTYLE20. Go wild.)
Fox & Bloom: How was People of Leisure started?
People of Leisure: I started another clothing brand called Life Clothing, and through the years of building that business something very interesting happened to me about a year ago.
The labor department came to us and said, “One of your contractors is not paying the correct overtime.” I’m thinking to myself, What does this have to do with me? I sent this out to production, how do I know what they’re doing?
That was my initial reaction and then I decided to come at it from more of an enlightened place. I thought, There must be a reason this happened to me. Let me dig further.
So, I started going through the contracts and talking to everyone.
What it came down to is that it’s not the shop owners are trying to cheat the workers by not paying them correctly. It’s that the prices of clothing keep going lower and lower and lower. So, these big retailers really dictate the pricing of garments. That means the factory owner has an option: Do I take the order or not?
So, I started evaluating what I’m doing and my footprint and I realized that because big retail dictates most of the margin, most of us manufacturers have to turn a profit and the people who get cheated in the end are the poor factories. So, I decided to make a change.
F&B: You say you focus on shape, softness, and sustainability. Why do you think those aspects are important to women?
POL: I think it’s very important to have a shape that complements all body types where people feel great wearing it. They feel confident, sexy, relaxed. We put a lot of thought into the shape.
Our goal is also to be eco-conscious. We are looking for stock fabrics, fabric that’s already made, and asking ourselves, How can we use our creativity to turn this stock fabric into something really cool without it going to a landfill?
F&B: Can you talk about your Zero Sweat policy?
POL: Before we give an order to anyone, we have them sign a memo called Zero Sweat that’s a rundown of questions to make sure they’re doing things correctly and so they’re aware we are monitoring them.
F&B: What sets you apart from other brands?
POL: What sets us apart is I think we put a lot of attention to fit, we put a lot of attention to construction. We are constantly sourcing fabrics that just feel good and have longevity. You’re going to wear it for a while; it’s not going to deteriorate after two washes. That’s really where our focus is. And just making a really comfortable and cozy piece of clothing.
F&B: You donate 10% of all online sales to Soles4Souls. How did you decide to partner with them?
POL: We had donated $40,000 or $50,000 worth of kids clothing to Soles4Souls and created a relationship with them. So, when we decided to pick a charity to work with, we felt like it was natural. They’re really hustling and bustling.
F&B: What are your goals for the future?
POL: Our goal is to work on our pricing. How do we get the cost down without affecting anyone? How can be more creative with that?
We’re still fine-tuning the strategy. It not only has to be fairly priced for the manufacturer and the fabric company, but it also has to be fairly priced for the consumer. We are definitely evolving and asking, What is the best way to go about putting a product out into the marketplace that’s fairly produced and fairly priced?
F&B: What can people do to live more consciously?
POL: Be intimate with yourself and everything you do. When you pick up a tank top and you see the price $2.99, have the intimacy with the world to wonder why it’s $2.99. How can it be sometimes cheaper than a coffee? How is that possible?
This post is sponsored by People of Leisure. All opinions and creative direction are my own.
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