ATTN: x Madewell, 2021
Madewell, the millennial- and denim-focused retailer owned by J. Crew Group, is a recognized leader in fashion sustainability. In 2021, they wanted to push their commitment further by creating a new program to reduce waste and give “preloved” jeans new life. Ashton partnered with creative agency ATTN: to conceptualize, name, design, and roll out Madewell Forever, an online store that keeps renewed Madewell clothing in circulation. It also evolved to include a brick-and-mortar pop-up shop in Brooklyn, NY, where visitors could buy and tailor preloved Madewell clothing in person.
Within the first month of launch, over 1,000 jeans were saved from landfills—equivalent to 323,786 gallons of water. Within the first two years of the initiative, over 1,000,000 pairs have been recycled.
For the campaign, the creative direction was “urban environmentalism.” By juxtaposing urban environments with bursts of natural moments, the viewer is encouraged to find beauty and connect with nature wherever they are. It also motivates Madewell customers to act on behalf of the planet by shopping or supporting preloved clothing.
The manifesto inspires consumers to “do well” for our planet in new ways. For instance, by passing preloved jeans on to someone else rather than throwing them out, consumers can reduce their environmental impact by 82%.
The tagline, “Long Live the Jean,” is handwritten to serve as a joyful rallying cry for Mother Earth. It adds a personal touch to the brand and encourages consumers to participate in the process because every action counts, no matter how small.
Layered together, the messaging, graphics, and photography create a moodboard effect that uplifts, rather than scolds, the viewer. The overall impact is empowering and engaging.
Madewell Forever rolled out with a multifaceted digital strategy. Branded emails and TikTok videos by sustainable fashion influencers helped introduce consumers to the new sub-brand and shopping experience.
On Instagram, organic stories and in-feed posts created a groundswell of interest among Madewell’s 1.4 million followers.
Custom-designed Instagram stickers allowed consumers to personalize how they would embrace preloved clothes in their own feeds.
“Clean Out Kits” were made available at Madewell stores throughout the U.S. Each free kit provided customers with an easy way to responsibly pass on preloved Madewell jeans by mailing their denim to thredUP, the internet’s thrift store. thredUP then ensures that all clothes are resale ready or are responsibly recycled.
Within its first six months, the program saved almost 125,000 pairs of jeans from landfills —about one pair per minute. To build on that momentum, Ashton again partnered with ATTN:, Madewell, and thredUP to create a pop-up store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn called “Madewell Forever x thredUP: A Circular Store.” The first of its kind, the store showcased and sold preloved Madewell clothing while educating visitors on the power of circular fashion.
Multiple news outlets, including Forbes, CNN, Fast Company, and the Wall Street Journal, reported on the program and championed Madewell’s leading role in promoting circularity.
To date, Madewell Forever has saved 1,058,672 pairs of jeans from landfills, in addition to other forms of clothing and accessories.