Ending Textile Waste | Company
Roboro is on a mission to make fashion more sustainable
While working on Hollywood film sets, Jillian Clark began to think about the impact of major productions on the environment.
“With Hollywood’s huge budgets, they would always shop at fast fashion stores,” Clark said. “It was the easiest. They have the biggest selection, fast turnover, easy returns. And at first, I was like, ‘If we have these huge budgets, why don’t we support smaller brands? Why don’t we channel this money to more local businesses? »
In addition to the lack of support for small businesses, sets also produce a huge amount of waste. Clark said Hollywood throws a lot of fabric, whether it’s from the costume department or the art department. For Clark, the turning point in his sustainability journey was watching the documentary “The True Cost.”
“I saw this and was almost embarrassed that I didn’t know about the global impacts of the fashion industry,” Clark said. “I’ve been in this industry for over 10 years and of course I knew about sweatshops. Everyone knows them, but you don’t see them.
Once Clark looked at the industry from an outside perspective, there was no turning back.
“It was one of those ‘Well, that’s what I do now’ moments,” Clark said.
In 2017, Clark founded the MeWe clothing line, where clothes were made from 100% recycled materials.
“It was inspired by a mural that was in Venice, it was my favorite mural,” Clark said. “It was right on the canals next to a house. It was unfortunately repainted but the mural had the word ‘me’ then under ‘we’ it looked like a reflection. I was trying to come up with a name and reflect the idea of thinking of the larger group, rather than yourself, because fashion is such an individual choice. Even if people say, “I don’t care what I wear,” you do, you make a choice about what you wear. Knowing that this very personal individual choice could have a global impact was the origin of MeWe.
Two years after MeWe, Clark rebranded the company as now Roboro and operates out of his Playa del Rey studio.
“I had the business for two years by then and had just been making products and selling them in pop-ups and online,” Clark said. “And while I enjoyed the creative outlet, it wasn’t profitable. If you want to have the biggest impact, one t-shirt isn’t going to be enough. You have to sell a thousand t-shirts.
In addition to reflecting on the difficulty of reaching consumers as a small business, Clark wanted to expand the sustainability mission on a larger scale.
At Roboro, the company’s mission is to end textile waste everywhere. Textile waste is the second most polluting industry in the world, after oil, because clothes are produced quickly, cheaply and without worrying about the environmental impact of what will happen after the clothes are worn. Roboro has three branches, all striving to eliminate this waste.
“A branch is our workshop where we have internal collections,” Clark said. “We partner with other upcycle brands and designers and host their collections on our online store.”
Another branch of the business is its business-to-business model.
“We scavenge unsold fabrics from factories and brands in downtown LA because there’s a huge fashion district there,” Clark said. “We collect materials that would otherwise be discarded and we have a large inventory that we use for our collections.”
In addition to connecting with other LA businesses for materials, Roboro partners with businesses to foster its own sustainability. Roboro partners with companies that want to replace soft goods that would normally be made from virgin materials.
“We develop products and manufacture them from recycled dead stock,” Clark said. “Right now we’re working with a restaurant in Los Angeles that wants to make upcycled aprons and other different merchandising items for their brand.”
Roboro’s collaboration with other companies does not stop at the point of production. Clark also consults with businesses on how to be sustainable from the ground up.
“I help them establish a sustainable supply chain, develop the products, get the designs, make the samples, all that good stuff,” Clark said. “We also offer textile waste management solutions. It is therefore a question of collecting dead material from other brands. »
Roboro collects fabric waste from Hollywood productions and other major clothing brands in Los Angeles. They recently salvaged fabrics from “The Mandalorian” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
Clark said Roboro’s success is partly due to the fact that they are based in Los Angeles.
“We had all the resources, the factories and the brands,” Clark said. “LA was the best place to set up the model, to prove that it works. I have established a fairly sustainable business model which I now hope to replicate in other manufacturing centers. So the northeast, and even the whole east coast.
Currently, Clark is working on the East Coast building a sustainable supply chain for a sustainable, non-toxic children’s toy company.
“They want to manufacture in the United States and avoid going back and forth across the country,” Clark said. “I’m working on growing their supply chain on the East Coast and replicating the Roboro model there and it’s harder. We don’t have the same resources in LA, but the more we can standardize, the more it will drive down costs, which is the biggest deal breaker right now. Upcycling is really hard to do on a large scale. It is very laborious. For the first few years, I was made to laugh at factories. But now people are seeing the merit. So just bringing people who have already been in business for over a hundred years on board, it changes the most ingrained mindset because it’s their bread and butter. If we could change their mindset, we can change consumers.