Fast Company

Secret PACT: Change Starts With Your Underwear

I’m feeling particularly inspired today. The words are flowing.  And I’m feeling at one with the planet and my fellow man. It could be that late summer tranquility that comes with knowing the October design issue is finally out the door. Or it could be my underwear.

Under my Calvins, I’m test-driving a pair of PACT gutchies (my granny’s Eastern European term for what I shouldn’t let the boys get into…). PACT, a company whose official roll-out begins today (see www.wearPACT.com), is an underwear company with a purpose: founders donate 10 percent of each sale to nonprofit organizations that work to create social and environmental change.  Hence, their motto: Change Starts With Your Underwear. Inaugural partners include 826 National, ForestEthics and Oceana.

Pact.Wave_PACTVarious artists and designers have created patterns to reflect each organization’s mission. I’m wearing a pair of word-strewn panties, which will, presumably, support Dave Eggers’s writing and tutoring centers at 826 National. The company is the brainchild of two UC Berkeley, Haas Business School grad, Jeff Denby, who’s the company CCO, and Jason Kibbey, the company CEO.  They met during a b-school business plan competition, that happened to be judged by fuseproject founder Yves Behar. Behar was so taken with the idea, he suggested fuseproject join the effort  as design shop and equity partner.

“The whole supply chain is designed to be sustainable,” Denby said during a recent meeting in New York.  That means all the processes involved in the garments’ manufacturing take place within a 100-mile radius of the factory in Turkey, from growing the organic cotton to packaging the final product.  Indeed, even the product’s packaging is environmentally sensitive. It comes (this is an online business, so goods must be shipped) in a green enveloped, which Kibbey insures me is compostable within 45 days.

PrintWhile starting a new company at the tail end of a recession may seem a little risky, the three (Behar included) feel that underwear may be the garment that will lead us out of the slough of (economic) despond. No less a brainiac than Alan Greenspan says you can tell when the recession is ending when men start buying skivvies again.  Of course, he also said that, left alone,  investment bankers, mortgage brokers and other shnooks would effectively police themselves. But never mind.

The idea is an appealing one, although the price point for all this undie-mania reflects a more robust economy than the one still hovering over many of us Frugal Fannies.  At $20 for a thong, or $28 for a pair of boxers, PACT’s prices are a lot more than you’d pay at Macy’s for the 3-for $21 Jockey for Ladies sale.

Still, Jockey isn’t promising to save the oceans, the forests, and the semi-illiterate young.  When it comes to underwear, Sheryl Crow has the last word: “A change will do you good.”

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