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Sustainable Underwear: Taking Sustainability to New Lows

Strangers are emailing Jeff Denby and Jason Kibbey nearly naked photos of themselves. It’s an unexpected bonus from the August launch of their underwear company, PACT. “I’m admittedly an underwear nerd and I told anybody that would listen that I wanted to start a garment company,” says Denby, who met Kibbey in the MBA program at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley in 2006. The two, who share a passion for environmental advocacy, paired up to design a sustainable, stylish undergarment. When wunderkind SF designer Yves Behar saw their prototype in a product-development class, the idea expeditiously moved from class project to business plan.

“It became clear to us that it had to be a beautiful product, where cause, sustainability and design integrated in a way no one else had thought of before,” says Kibbey, who had also developed an environmental campaign for Patagonia during grad school. Denby and Kibbey teamed up with Behar’s design studio, fuseproject, to create three cuts each for men and women, with corresponding prints that represent PACT-affiliated nonprofit organizations—826 National, ForestEthics and Oceana. Ten percent of gross revenue from each undergarment goes to its counterpart cause.

Sustainability constraints dictated color and pattern. Bright metallic inks and optic whites were omitted because of their harmful chemicals; the underwear is packaged in a matching garment bag that’s cut from leftover fabric. The supply chain—from raw cotton to sewing, cutting and packaging—is all located within a 100-mile radius in Turkey. “We are not trying to be another fashion company,” Kibbey says. “We want to make products core to our belief that we are environmentalists first and foremost.” Says Denby: “We’re getting great feedback, and it’s good to hear people like the causes just as much as the designs. These aren’t your mama’s panties.”

Available at wearpact.com