swrve and Sustainability
Here at swrve, we’ve done things our own way from the very beginning.
In fact, that’s really how we got started. Way back in the early 2000s, the range of options for cycling apparel that was both functional for crosstown commutes and wearable once you arrived at your destination was virtually non-existent. This was our inspiration to become a company and create the clothes that suited our needs.
In those early years, the majority of our business took place in a very small radius from our shoebox-sized office/sewing room/warehouse on the 10th floor of a 100-year-old building in the Historic Fashion District of downtown Los Angeles. From sourcing fabric and materials from nearby vendors to corner side deliveries to the local messengers who were our very first customers and making post office runs for those who discovered us online, the bulk of our daily business was conducted by bicycle because as a company that made urban cycling apparel, we’d be selling ourselves short if we didn’t do as much as we could on two wheels. It was more work, but being true to ourselves and doing everything we could to be ecologically responsible made it worth the extra sweat.
Here in the present day, we’ve branched out to offer a full range of outdoor apparel (while keeping those cycling roots strong) and grown to have customers and dealers around the world. In the meantime, our commitment to sustainability has never wavered. It has only grown stronger.
2021 marks 10 years since we moved out of the 10th floor and into our own facility. This year we finally turned a day one dream into reality by installing a 13,260 watt solar panel system on our roof. The project itself was over a year in the making and delayed by the pandemic (and the difficulty in finding a contractor willing to take on a small commercial job made even smaller by our building’s already high efficiency) but it really seems fitting that flipping the switch to solar happened nearly 10 years to the month that we moved in. We didn’t intend for harnessing the power of the sun to be our anniversary present but we’ll go ahead and claim it because it’s the kind of gift we’d give ourselves.
While other companies that are more laser focused on the bottom line or funneling returns to their shareholders would have scoffed at the capital expenditure of solar, to us it was the logical next step in our commitment to sustainability. As we grow, we feel it is our responsibility to increase our stewardship to the care of our planet.
This philosophy carries over to all facets of our daily operations, starting with our fundamental goal to craft apparel that is durable, versatile, and styled to outlast the whims of fast fashion. By reducing your need to purchase more clothing and making the clothing that you do purchase last longer, the net result is less manufacturing and less waste that ends up in landfills. Plus, you get the added benefit of saving time and money by having to shop less.
For the pieces we manufacture in-house, we carefully map out the fabric and plan every cut to maximize as much material as possible while finding creative uses for any leftover pieces, which is how an item such as our Bolsita bag became part of our accessories lineup. Then, when it comes to sewing, we’re still using many of the same sewing machines from our 10th floor days, a few of which are older than some of our team members. Simply put, these borderline antiques were built to last. With proper care and maintenance, they can keep humming along in near perpetuity which means they're staying out of landfills.
On the international side, we do our diligence to ensure our manufacturing partners are good fits that align with the values we strive for. Using our popular CORDURA® Denim as an example, the mill that weaves the denim is a LEED Platinum Certified Company that is powered by clean energy and is Fair Trade Certified.
Then just 22 kilometers away, the company that turns that denim into the jeans you wear recently announced a major water conservation initiative that will recycle 90% wastewater from the washing and dyeing processes with the remaining 10% being repurposed as sludge to make bricks for the construction industry. In addition to their ecological practices, they maintain WRAP compliant working conditions. WRAP, which stands for Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production, is a global non-profit that ensures safe, lawful, humane, and ethical apparel manufacturing is considered the highest standard of workplace monitoring.
While we don’t know what the next 10 year project for our building will be, we’ll continue to do the little things that add up such as recycling, composting, (yes, we have an active pile out back), and minimizing our A/C usage.
And, there’s a good chance the first leg of your order’s journey will start with a bike ride to our neighborhood post office just like our early days.