For Days wants your old clothes. And they’re already turning some of them into new ones. It’s a circular model that Kristy Caylor, founder of For Days, wants to see scale.
For the past few days, For Days has been popping up in cities across California, inviting anyone to bring in their unwanted clothes of any kind to their drop off locations. At many of their stops, they’ve partnered with local businesses, such as Pressed Juicery in Montecito or Humblemaker Coffee in Ventura. And folks can enjoy a beverage while participating in the recycling event.
Given that textiles are still getting into landfills, For Days works with a variety of recycling materials who specialize in textile waste. This is to ensure that the so-called “trash” is not going to end up in another landfill. Rather, it’ll be sorted to see what is reusable, and what needs to be downcycled — turned into insulation, filling or stuffing, rags, or other uses that don’t require a high quality fiber.
In addition to collecting clothing by any brand, For Days is keen to have their own customers bring in their used For Days clothing, which can be easily transformed into new t-shirts, sweatshirts, and pants through the company’s supply chain. Because For Days uses primarily natural materials, they’ve designed their products with circularity in mind, Caylor says. For instance, if we’re going to add a zip or a decorative element, we have to know how that’s going to be disassembled. (Zips are notoriously difficult for mechanical recycling.)
But simple cotton-based designs can be easily repurposed by their recycling partners in Morocco. For Days chose this location because of its proximity to its manufacturing facility. “Because they’re close to each other, we’re not spending extra energy shipping it all over.”
The closed-loop fashion brand has gone through a few iterations: it first started as a subscription service with the idea that customers can just send back old t-shirts and then get a new one to keep everything in loop with one brand. But customers said that the subscription model wasn’t ideal. Since then, For Days has provided store credit, with the hope that it reduces the cost of buying a new one when the old one becomes worn out.
“Most of what we’re seeing coming back to us are a lot of truly used clothes. There might be the odd shirt that was a trendy color or seasonal, but most of it is staples, like old white and black tees, that people use every day.”
Caylor reports that the company has processed 11,000 pounds of post-consumer waste into new garments through mechanical recycling.
Yet, For Days is still a small team of only 14 full-time employees. However, Caylor hopes to set an example of what can be done by brands to offer a more closed-loop process to shopping and discarding. They’ve already helped brands such Bombas, Maisonnette, Package-Free Shop, and Cariuma build similar take back programs.
When asked if it’s the burden of businesses or the government to provide better recycling facilities, she responded: “I think it’s a mix of both, collective action will help.”
If business can design with circularity in mind, which isn’t being done across the board yet, disposal and recycling facilities can process and reuse more waste. So much of the clothing today is made of blends, or has a high percentage of spandex, or stretch, which makes it difficult to recycle.
“But also the take back approach is also good for business, because it keeps people in the system, and connected to a brand, which is helpful,” she says, acknowledging that circularity can have its advantages.
Plus campaigns such as the California take back bag tour provide For Days an opportunity to meet their customers and interact with the community, which Reagan Marelle Begley, who runs the company’s social media, says is important in today’s digital world. Begley has been going to cities across the US from Texas to Tennessee to New York, organizing more pop-up recycling events for the brand. Caylor says For Days will continue to do them, and as frequently as possible to make the process of recycling clothes easier.
While they do have a mailer for $20 that customers can purchase, fill up, and send back, Begley notes that some people may not want to pay, or have too much stuff that will not fill in a bag. With some consumers showing up with bags full of clothing at the California stops, Begley is thrilled to see the interest in recycling. She proudly shows up sacks of clothing collected that day on a stop in Ventura, California
Begley, in fact, runs her own recycled denim brand, Hargan Denim, which she started as a hobby and has now flourished into a small business she does mostly on the weekends. It explains why she’s so passionate about her day job at For Days. “This is the future of shopping and fashion,” she says.
For Caylor, it’s the mix of affordability and circularity that is the ideal combo. With her previous company, Maiyet, the price points were higher, and it wasn’t built around staples. For Days, instead, is centered around clothing that everyone is wearing — and thus will eventually need to discard and replace. While it’s not as inexpensive as high street brands, and likely never will be because of the added costs of manufacturing with organic cotton, and providing a circular model, Caylor argues that it treads the line carefully, always mindful that sustainability should be accessible to as many people as possible.
To date, For Days estimates that it has diverted over one million pounds of clothing from landfills through its take back program.