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Recycling fashion for the greater good: a perfect fit for Gen Z

Most of us can attest to denim’s resilience; how a pair of blue jeans purchased ten years ago could still be worn today without any sign of wear or tear. In fact, the oldest-known pair of Levi Strauss jeans is about to celebrate its 140th anniversary — and if it wasn’t safely behind museum glass, it would still be wearable.

But few of us could have predicted recycled denim would have enough staying-power to provide insulation for public housing. Regardless, that’s exactly what a new corporate social responsibility initiative known as Blue Jeans Go Green is setting out to accomplish: By recycling hundreds of thousands of pairs of worn-out jeans, Blue Jeans Go Green hopes to provide warm interiors for those in need of homes.

It’s the sort of social good  initiative that’s the perfect fit for Gen Z — and for apparel brands that share  Gen Z’s enthusiasm for recycling, sustainability and environmental action.

A recent survey by UNiDAYS reveals that 93 percent of American Gen Zers believe brands have an obligation to take a stance on environmental issues. Other reports also confirm these findings. A 2015 Nielsen study found that 89 percent of Gen Z respondents would prefer buying “from a company supporting social and environmental issues” over a company that doesn’t. And in a global study by Masdar, 40 percent of Gen Zers ranked environmental issues as presenting a greater challenge to the world in the coming decade than other categories including the economy, terrorism, poverty and unemployment.

Companies like Madewell, the popular men’s and women’s fashion retailer, have made it their mission to provide massive support for Blue Jeans Go Green. Madewell’s recent “Recycle-A-Thon” drive received an overwhelming response from its audience, nabbing well over 200,000 pairs of pre-loved jeans to support Blue Jeans Go Green’s mission to insulate walls, floors and ceilings across America with long-lasting denim.

It’s the perfect instance of a virtuous cycle; an ideal intersection of win-win-win-win. On the one hand, Madewell shows the world where its stands on environmental and social issues by virtue of its actions. Madewell’s audience gets inspired to recycle their jeans for a charitable environmental cause. Blue Jeans Go Green gets hundreds of thousands of blue jeans to help fuel its mission. And people across America get to wake up in houses weather-proofed by blue jeans, a sturdy material if there ever was one.

By supporting corporate social responsibility initiatives popular with  Gen Zers, Madewell is not only courting their favor as consumers, but it’s also standing by a set of values it holds to be authentic, relevant and core to it’s brand. Now there’s something that fits like your favorite pair of jeans.

John Wheeler
John Wheeler
Contributor, Gen Z Insights

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