Adore Me’s push to become eco-friendly isn’t landing with shoppers, but they’re doing it anyway

Lingerie shoppers might not be demanding sustainability, but Adore Me says it’s planning for the future.
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Adore Me

· 4 min read

Intimate apparel brand Adore Me wasn’t founded with sustainability in mind. And the brand didn’t start thinking about its environmental footprint until 2019, when it was worth over $100 million in revenue. When it did begin to think about going green, it faced an unexpected challenge.

“We’ve had…messaging around sustainability and sometimes the responses are neutral, and sometimes the responses from our customers are actually negative,” Adore Me’s VP of innovation Camille Kress told Retail Brew. “[Adore Me customers] don’t care and they actually reject it because they think sustainability is out of reach. It means expensive. It means not inclusive.”

Despite the early backlash, in August, Adore Me became the only US lingerie brand to become a Certified B Corporation—a designation that measures a company’s environmental and social impact. And the brand is hoping this certification will be better received than prior sustainability messaging.

  • B Corporation certification is conducted by nonprofit organization B Lab, which assesses a company’s performance across categories including community, customers, environment, governance, and workers.
  • The organization then awards points out of 200, and any company with 80 or more points is certified.
  • Adore Me was ranked at 107.1 this year, and of the categories B Lab considers when awarding B Corp certifications, environment is the area where the company has the most room for growth, Kress said.

Looking ahead

Adore Me, which published its first ESG report this year, now uses an internal ranking system—the Adore Me Impact Matrix—to determine the footprint of each individual SKU.

The 12–24 month lead times in the lingerie industry make overnight change extremely difficult, VP of strategy Ranjan Roy explained, but by 2025, all new Adore Me styles will be sustainable based on its internal rating system.

  • The Adore Me Impact Matrix rates each product on a five-point scale based on the types of fibers and finishing chemicals used, and the amount of water and carbon needed to produce the garment.
  • Garments with a score of one and above are labeled “sustainable” internally, though Kress said a lower-score product “could be better, but there is still a very good sustainable base.”
  • This year, around 17% of the brand’s intimate-apparel products are considered sustainable based on that system, Roy said.
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When Adore Me first started thinking about sustainability, the hope was that it would be an immediate hit with consumers, Roy told Retail Brew. “We marketed fairly heavily with the assumption…that all consumers want to buy sustainable,” he said. “It was those early responses that shows…using the word ‘sustainable,’ making that the headline, isn’t necessarily going to convert people.”

Words like “comfort,” “fit,” “quality,” and “affordability” resonate much more with Adore Me customers than “sustainability,” at least when it comes to advertising, Roy said.

Long game: Adore Me’s consumers might not be sold on sustainable styles, but their preferences aren’t the only consideration, Roy explained.

“In some ways it’s risk management,” he told Retail Brew. “Regulation will come in and policymakers will step in…and we want to be well ahead of the game when that comes.”

The shift is also about hiring, Kress said. Sustainability was a central theme in conversations with new and potential hires, many of whom wanted to work for a company that had a sustainability angle, she said.

“And we were all starting to get a bit older within the company and have kids and think about the future…so we had that kind of switch to, ‘Let’s actually push the ESG topic within the company.’”—MA

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