"I always felt there was a better way to do what we are doing," says Dustin Winegardner, co-founder and managing director of local sustainable apparel brand Arvin Goods.
"As I learned more and more about the impacts of the apparel industry, and then how easily adaptable alternative materials are, it seemed like a no-brainer," he said. "After presenting it as a solution to other clients, and not seeing the quick action that I thought was needed, we decided to go about it ourselves."
These days, the collection's array of fun and colorful socks have been joined by a recent collaboration with Anchored Coffee, plus there's a brand-new lineup of organic cotton and recycled nylon, gender-neutral hats. T-shirts are soon to come, too!
When it comes to choosing a favorite item, Winegardner is a huge fan of the company's socks made with Agraloop Biofiber.
"The story of this material is really strong and exciting for the future," he explains. "In short, they can take the waste from hemp crops and convert it into a fiber that is useable in fabrics. It has a great hand feel and wear over time." His second favorite product — a go-to staple that he promises will remain in the line — is a standard crew sock using recycled cotton and recycled poly.
Winegardner saw the “sustainability” movement gaining more power in the marketplace, yet no one seemed to be applying it to lower-cost items like socks. Meanwhile, he and his team had been managing the design and production of socks/basics for retail and brand customers for years.
"I had the supply chain in place with access to certified yarns and factories, so it was fairly easy to get off the ground logistically, but we needed an identity," said Winegardner. "I met Harry Fricker [co-founder and creative director of Arvin Goods] through a mutual friend and hired him to help me build visually around this idea. His work became what you see now as Arvin Goods, and we formed a partnership to move forward as a brand."
Winegardner believes that, in the last few years, the word 'sustainable' has become so overused it's lost its meaning.
"The fact is, that the apparel industry is not 'sustainable' even if we all switch to organic or recycled materials. Our mission is: 'To make the cleanest basics on the planet,' but our goal is to help educate the consumer to understand how a series of small changes if adopted by large sections of the marketplace, can add up to real change."
"We are far from perfect," he adds, "but we believe being transparent about this, and helping the consumer understand their own impact is the key to improving the industry. There is no such thing as 100% sustainable, there is no unicorn solution for the apparel industry, and if someone or some brand claims it, they are misleading you."
What makes Winegardner most proud these days? He lights up when a customer posts a picture of Arvin Goods apparel on social media, and shares how much they're enjoying the brand.
"When we know people are engaging and responding to our message or story, it’s the best feeling, and we are genuinely trying to build that experience, one customer at a time."
When asked what's on the horizon, the entrepreneur says,"We are expanding our sourcing options with another sock collection made in Japan. The [soon-to-come] T-shirts are made in the U.S., in Los Angeles. But always and forever we will stay focused on our core sock collection and keep pushing these messages and products to our customers, expanding on the story whenever possible."