As of March 30, Westridge has moved to remote learning; as a precaution in response to the COVID-19 crisis, campus is closed until further notice.
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** Don't miss the FAQs at the bottom of this story! **
Starting in the 2020-2021 school year, Westridge students and families will have the option to purchase uniforms from a new, environmentally friendly and certified fair-trade source: Visible Clothing, a clothing production company committed to a zero-waste process from initial design to final delivery.
As our Upper School students discussed in an assembly this year, the clothing and textile industry is one of the largest polluters in the world. According to the UN, nearly 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions are produced by the fashion industry, and “every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned.”
“We are dedicated to doing our part to create a more sustainable future—from installing solar panels to making changes in the Commons such as phasing out plastic bottles and offering compostable dishware, to our new uniform option,” said Elizabeth McGregor, head of school. “As our students discuss what it means to live lives of true impact and give back to their community, we believe it is essential that we help lead the way by supporting practices that align with those values. And we are thrilled to partner with a company that demonstrates incredible commitment to the environment and its employees.”
|Above: Lower presented to students at our
Community Engagement assembly in September 2019.
“At Visible Clothing, we believe in total transparency,” said co-founder Andy Lower, who also presented at our September student assembly this year about the unsustainable practices of the fashion industry. “Our production process ensures that every piece of fabric that enters the tailoring center leaves in a finished product. Many other production processes in this industry are not made public, but we make our process and the people behind it visible so you can be confident that you are contributing to a better world with every purchase.”
Visible Clothing uniforms (which will include the items currently offered through Mills Uniform Company, plus newly approved white polo shirts bearing our logo) will be offered at the same price as the school’s current uniforms, and preorders will open in early March to families interested in purchasing zero-waste uniforms in advance of next school year.
“We operate with a small batch production model, which means that preordering is actually a very important step in the zero-waste process,” explained Lower. “In order to reduce our waste, we need to avoid making excess; preorders help us avoid accidentally producing too much or too little.”
The Westridge college counseling office has worked with Visible Clothing over the past year to make “Lives of Impact” laundry bags for graduating seniors to take to college. The bags were given to students and the 5% fabric waste that was left over from the bag production was used by Visible’s tailors to make into bookmarks. When it comes to uniforms, Lower added that he sees the inevitability of some fabric waste from the creation of skirts, pants, and tops as an opportunity for creative, useful solutions to closing the production loop—like bookmarks, scrunchies, or even notebooks made with recycled fabric pulp.
In addition to zero-waste, Visible Clothing is committed to ethical, fair trade production, providing safe and empowering working environments, and paying fair wages to their India-based tailors (a revolutionary policy in an industry notorious for labor exploitation).
Online preorders for our new, zero-waste uniforms will go live in the coming days, so stay tuned for the link and announcement!
Read on for FAQs related to this new partnership:
- Which uniform items will be available for purchase from Visible Clothing? Families will be able to purchase white and khaki skirts, and khaki skorts, shorts, and pants from Visible Clothing. Additionally, we are introducing white polo shirts bearing the Westridge logo to replace our white, button-down dress shirts (dress shirts will be available from Mills Uniform Company until their current stock is depleted, at which time they will be discontinued). This change will take effect in 2020-2021, and families will be able to purchase these new logo polo shirts from Visible.
- How does the quality and sizing of Visible Clothing compare to Mills Uniform Company? Visible is committed to matching and/or exceeding the quality of uniforms produced by Mills Uniform Company. A pilot group of our students have worn Visible’s skirts over the last few months and have been impressed by the quality. Sample zero-waste uniforms will be available for viewing during the WPA General Meeting on March 10 and Co-Founder Andy Lower will be available to answer any further questions. Preorders will be ready to check for sizing fit during the spring uniform sale on May 12, and a limited amount of zero-waste uniforms will be available for pick-up that day. Visible is working with a Westridge parent taskforce to ensure that sizing is comparable to Mills’, but we recommend that you review the sizing charts provided by Visible for each product prior to preordering.
- Will the Mills uniforms be discontinued? No. Mills Uniform Company will continue to sell Westridge-approved uniforms and families may continue to shop with them. In 2020-2021, Visible Clothing will become an additional uniform source for families, not a replacement.
- What does it mean to be fair trade? Visible is committed to the ethical treatment of garment workers and describe their fair trade mission as being about “treating others the way we want to be treated.” They apply this philosophy to their internal interactions, policies, and procedures, and customer service interactions. Visible is a member of the Fair Trade Federation USA and the Fair Trade Forum of India.
- How can I learn more about Visible Clothing’s factory and production process? More information about the specifics of their process can be found on their main website at https://visible.clothing, and additional information pertaining to the production of Westridge uniforms will be posted alongside preorders.
- Will I be able to order from Visible throughout the year/at other times? Yes. Visible Clothing uniforms will be available to order at any time of year.
- Will Visible uniform options be sold in the Tiger Tail Boutique? No. Visible Clothing will be operating in collaboration with the Westridge Parent Association (WPA) but independent of the school; to purchase a uniform, families must place an online order through the Visible website. However, sample uniforms from Visible will be made available for students and families to view at Tiger Tail Boutique on sale days throughout the school year. A pop-up shop with samples for viewing will also take place outside the Commons during student lunch periods in March (more info on this coming soon).