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How One Apparel Brand Is Bringing Style to Sustainable Clothing

This story appears in the June 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It wasn't fresh mist swirling about the air in Dongguan, China—it was toxins. "You couldn't even see toward the end of the block because the pollution was on eye level," says Yael Aflalo, who once designed for and now runs Reformation, a fast- line that's rejiggering the notoriously pollutive apparel industry. "All these dresses I was making for Urban Outfitters, they were all made out of fossil fuels."

Stephanie Gonot
Eco-friendly and irresistible: Reformation’s Yael Aflalo.

A typical wardrobe includes clothing made from polyester, acrylic, nylon or spandex—all petroleum-based products—which release chemicals as they decompose and take years to biodegrade. Surprise: Cotton isn't much better for the environment; a cotton shirt can take 700 gallons of water to make, and the crop consumes 25 percent of the world's insecticides, despite using only about 2.5 percent of the world's arable land, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council and International Trade Centre, respectively.

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