Until recently you were either team Lorna Jane or Lululemon when it came to active wear. The last few years has seen an explosion of active wear brands come onto the scene, so these loyalties are no longer and buying active wear suddenly got a whole lot more difficult.
What we have discovered is that there is too much choice and not a lot of quality.
Sure you could turn to your high performance brands but they tend to rate quite badly on the ethical scale and the marketing seems intense and hyper athletic, to say the least. We ain't running no marathons at Urban Granola.
You could stick to the old faithfuls but they are now massive corporations, have unethical supply chains, questionable marketing practices and promote and cater for one type of "active women" (read: tall, skinny, white and way too perky for my liking - insert inspirational meme here).
The rest are general cheap, trend driven and follow a fast fashion model.
So where does that leave us? Enter Girlfriend Collective.
When I put a shout out on Instagram for active wear recommendations, every response I received in DMs was enthusiastic praise for Girlfriend Collective. So I promptly purchased leggings and crop top. That's some solid peer to peer marketing in action.
I get excited when I see an ethical brand that knows how to market. It's rare because it costs money (something many ethical brands don't have) and requires extraordinary skill. The skill of brand story and developing customer trust is something Girlfriend Collective is highly adept in.
In a marketing move that would freak most start ups out, they gave away their leggings as part of their launch promotion. Brand loyalty is strong in the active wear market and Girlfriend Collective needed to convince people to try a new product. By giving away their product they created trust and an army of brand champions.
But great marketing means nothing if you don't have a quality product to walk your talk. Girlfriend Collective does.
In an oversaturated market, Girlfriend Collective have managed to offer up something better and differentiate themselves from the pack.
THE GOOD STUFF
- They put an incredible amount of thought into every aspect of making these garments. They take full responsibility of the supply chain ensuring each step of the way meets high environmental standards.
- They use recycled materials. The recycled polyester used in each garment is made out of post-consumer plastic water bottles. It's amazing technology because the fabric is study and soft. Perfect for exercise.
- They care about their workers. GC pay workers 125% of the local minimum wage, provide lunch and healthcare. In addition to this they also have SA8000 certification (the standards that they are required to meet are details here).
- They celebrate diversity. The first thing you notice when browsing GC's website is that their models are all shapes, sizes, ages and colours. Something sorely missing from the fitness and active wear scene. Sizes also range from XXS - XXXL.
- They don't push unrealistic diet and exercise regimes. Obviously there is some talk about being active on their social media but ridiculous exercise routines and restrictive diets are not the focus. It's all about feeling good the way you are and gentle encouragement to be active, whatever form that takes. No #bootygains or #cheatmeals here.
Personally, I love my Girlfriend Collective leggings and crop top. The fabric is lovely: it's quick dry, soft and stretchy but firm. The fit is great, I really like the high-waisted cut. Most importantly the leggings pass the squat test! Not undies on display and the stitching is good quality so you won't get any splitting.