Working Out Sustainably: Girlfriend Collective Review

I’ve always been a little hesitant when buying leggings or any pants online. I have a long, awkward body and leggings don’t always fit comfortably. But, I’ve had to resort to mainly buying clothes online due to the lack of brick and mortar stores offering sustainable clothing. Working out is important to me and I want to make sure I do it sustainably. I found Girlfriend Collective through social media ads and eventually decided to pop onto their website and see if anything would catch my eye.

Girlfriend Collective is fairly new brand that launched in 2016. The brand produces quality athletic garments that are not outrageously expensive with a focus on sustainability. According to the sustainability directory good on you, their products use recycled materials and non-toxic dyes, and their facilities ensure the payment of a living wage. Girlfriend Collective also using models of all shapes and sizes, showing that cute workout clothes are accessible for all women.

Girlfriend Collective Sports Bra and Shorts

Why Girlfriend Collective?

Girlfriend Collective’s minimalistic designs are exactly what I was looking for in workout clothes. I don’t want to draw any attention at the gym, but I still want to look cute and feel confident. Girlfriend Collective produce their garments out of a factory in Vietnam that is SA8000 certified. This standard holds brands accountable for fair treatment of workers accompanied by ethical labour practices. This standard is not allowed to be advertised on packing or labels. Brands can’t just use it as a marketing ploy. It’s completely through the company’s own sheer will to commit to these practices without advertisement. This is how you know a brand actually cares and isn’t trying to greenwash. The good on you rating further delves into their other certifications and I highly recommend checking it out. You can also checkout my blog post on slow fashion to get a better idea on why sustainable clothing practices are so important.

Biceps, working out, flexing
Working out is *starting* to pay off

When you first start your sustainable purchasing journey, price tags are gonna hit a little different. My first instinct is always, “You want what for a basic pair of pants!?” You have to remind yourself that you are buying quality and ethical pieces and of course that won’t come cheap. Your money is going to ensure the piece won’t fall apart after one wear. Also, the person making it will actually be able to feed themselves. Once I reminded myself of this, I went ahead a purchased a few items. In this review I’m going to break down my thoughts on their packaging, quality and comfort, cost, and their overall sustainable efforts. 

Sustainable Packaging

First off, the package was delivered in a cardboard envelope. This is easily recyclable unlike the plastic bag a company like Topshop delivers in. I was immediately impressed that my new clothes are not individually wrapped in those thin clear plastic bags you have to rip open. Girlfriend Collective places your new pieces in REUSABLE, ZIPPERED, and BEAUTIFUL little pouches (as seen in the header image). These little pouches are very durable and perfect for storing clothes in or traveling with. I’ve never ordered from a brand that packaging their clothes like this and I was definitely not expecting it.

Completely Recyclable Packaging

Companies often mail pieces with a lot of unnecessary plastic but, Girlfriend Collectives’s packaging has zero plastic contents. I bought four items and Girlfriend Collective packed two pieces in each pouch rather than placing each item in its own pouch. I appreciated this small touch as it further reduces any unnecessary waste and keeps the package small. I’ve already used them for travel organization. My first physical interaction with the brand already had me in love. Next, it was time to actually open the pouches and try my new clothes on! 

Comfort and Quality 

Considering this brand is built on ethical and sustainably principles, I already knew I wasn’t buying fast fashion garbage quality pieces. I assumed the material would be similar to Lululemon or Adidas. I can tell you honestly, they’re better. The garments are sooo silky smooth with the perfect amount of stretch and compression. The material is thick and durable, but not so thick that you feel like you’re going to overheat. I immediately had to try them on after opening.

Girlfriend Collective Aqua Set
Girlfriend Collective Shorts and Sports Bra
Immediate try on after receiving my package

I bought the Paloma Bra in an extra small, the Seamless High-Rise Run Short in a small, and the Compressive High-Rise Leggings in a size small. My body can be in-between sizes and thats what worries me the most about buying online. The best thing to do is read reviews, check what size the model is wearing, and look at their size guide to get a better understanding. Luckily, the fit was true to size and for a tall gal like myself, even fit my long legs! The top is very flattering and made me feel more confident and secure when working out. 

Clothing Prices

I already mentioned earlier in the post a little bit about cost. Again, it’s not going to be cheap athletic apparel you can buy from Forever 21. Girlfriend Collective’s prices compete with the more costly brands like Lululemon and Adidas. The leggings are $68 USD which is about $90 CAD, which in my opinion is actually very reasonable considering all of the company’s efforts on sustainability.

Shipping Cost

Girlfriend Collective offers free shipping if you buy more than one item or when you buy leggings. Here comes the catch and my only negative thing to say about my experience. I thought I was getting a great deal and in the clear with free shipping. Now, all I have to worry about is the taxes, right? Wrong. As the items were being shipped from Hong Kong, I got slammed with a $60 CAD duties bill upon delivery. I won’t completely blame the brand for this, but I just wish more brands would follow companies like Reformation and include the duties in the price of the garment so that I don’t have to worry about any extra fees or surprises. This isn’t going to deter me from continuing to buy, but I know that might not be the case for others. Reformation does carry select Girlfriend Collective pieces on their site. If you really want to try the brand out but are worried about the extra cost, I do recommend purchasing through Reformation. 

Sustainability Specs

Material

Girlfriend Collective entire brand identity revolves around ethical activewear. So, do their actions match their claims? Girlfriend Collective is extremely transparent about its brand and its practices. Their clothing are made of post-consumer recycled water bottles. I was interested to learn via their website that unused water bottles are cheaper to purchase and then be “recycled” into products. Girlfriend Collective goes the extra mile to source actual used water bottles and give them a new life. Also, their line of “LITE” leggings are made of recycled fishing nets and other waste that would otherwise end up in the ocean. The quality and luxurious feel of the material is definitely what I was the most impressed with. It’s even more impressive that the luxurious feel is thanks to hard plastic bottles.

Labour

Just as important as the environmental impact of how the clothes are made, we must look at how the people making these items are treated. Girlfriend Collective owns an SA8000 certified factory in Vietnam. This is a social performance certification given by Social Accountability Internation. The SA000 ensures workers are treated fairly, earn a fair wage, work in safe conditions, are free of child labor, and more.

The brand’s website only mentions the one facility, which leads me to believe that they only have one. This makes it much easier to ensure the facility is completely up to standard. Unlike many of the fast fashion brands that have 1000s of suppliers and have no idea what is going on in their facilities. It is extremely important companies care about working conditions and pay their employees fairly. Caring will boost the morale of your workers and lead them to be more productive. Increased productivity will ultimately increase your own bottom line. If you’re interested in reading more about Girlfriend Collective’s overall process, check out their about page.

Overall

I give Girlfriend Collective 4.5 reusable water bottles out of 5. I would give them a 5, but I gotta be realistic. In a perfect 5 out of 5 world, the brand would be a little lighter on my wallet and their products would have shipped quicker. Despite these shortcomings, I will certainly purchase from the brand again because of their quality products and focused vision on sustainability.

Let me know in the comments your fav sustainable brands and what I should review next!

Have a good day, y’all 🙂

Em.

Check out my latest post: Texting Culture and Anxiety: Why I’m Not Answering your Texts

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