CALIDA Raises the Bar on Sustainability
By ELLEN LEWIS
As a sportswear buyer in the late 1970’s I have keen memories of the signature Calvin Klein t-shirt that mainstreamed this legendary designer’s collections. This $11.00 style anchored my department’s sales. The cotton t-shirt was immortalized by James Dean and Marlon Brando in the 1950’s when the actors, wearing basic white, made them larger than life on the Hollywood screen and they became a fashion icon. Flash forward to 2018, this essential piece remains a wardrobe staple for men, women and children worldwide. There are interpretations at every level of the retail market, but no one can match CALIDA’s I LOVE NATURE version. Constructed of 100% TENCEL® micro, it is the world’s first compostable t shirt.
I am circling in on this particular CALIDA style because the issue of sustainability is so high on the consumer’s radar these days. I have been aware of this 75 year old Swiss brand for my entire career. Their collections for men’s, women’s and children’s products span a plethora of intimate categories devoted to traditional quality intimates and loungewear that is beautifully executed in CALIDA’S proprietary fabrics. In truth, their design aesthetic always felt a bit too conservative to me. But recently, between their MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® collections which solidifies their position as pioneers in sustainability and the introduction of their revolutionary I LOVE NATURE Compo Shirt, I have a new attitude about this brand.
This is what really caught my attention. This t-shirt takes recycling beyond the expected. Besides the option of returning the garment to CALIDA when the wearer is ready to discard it, she/he can simply put it on their home compost heap. Because the TENCEL® MICRO fabric is constructed of 100% cellulose, the shirt, at the end of its life cycle, breaks down into valuable organic nutrients capable of growing new raw materials. Every other element of this item, the labels, threads and packaging are also certified biodegradable. No wonder it is also endorsed by the prestigious Cradle to Cradle™ label. Silky soft, the compo t-shirt is quick drying, temperature regulating, moisture wicking and superbly comfortable. In sync with today’s focus on conscious shopping, it is a contemporary take on an iconic classic