At Armoire, we’re casting a spotlight on some of the notable game changers in the fashion industry, and how they’re paving the way for a more sustainable future of fashion. Read on to learn all about Sydney Badger and Zakhar Ivanisov, co-founders of Public Habit, and their passion for reducing waste in the fashion industry.
We first met whilst working at Amazon in 2013 and bonded over a mutual disdain for inefficiencies and unnecessary fluff. With over 15 years in combined retail experience and many more as curious, questioning global citizens, we teamed up to challenge the status quo. We also connected over their unique international backgrounds: Zakhar left his hometown in Russia at 22 to pursue his MBA on scholarship from UNC and has never looked back. Sydney grew up in the UK, studied in the US, and moved to China at 22 where she fell in love with the language and the dumplings. They found each other 6 years later at Amazon in Seattle, WA.
We live and work between Seattle and Shenzhen, China and have a truly global team working on Public Habit representing countries such as Russia, UK, China, USA, Austria, Estonia, and France.
Our vision for Public Habit is to be the most mindful apparel company in the world. For us, that means being thoughtful about what and how we design, produce and deliver. Equally important is how we can inform and educate our audience about the fashion industry so that they can operate more mindfully. We can’t make any change unless we all change our behaviors and relationship to our clothing.
Public Habit is the culmination of a lot of questioning and experimentation. After over 15 years combined working for big retailers, we teamed up in 2018 with a desire to build a different kind of fashion business. What we learned in the process of developing our own product woke us up to the severity of the waste crisis created by all the inefficiencies and bad practices in the industry (many of which we’d been a part of). Upwards of 45 billion garments made every year are never even sold (30% of the total volume) and end up in landfills or incinerators.
We personally saw rolls and rolls of fabric at suppliers’ warehouses going unused and unloved because brands over-ordered or just didn’t want it anymore. At some point, we recognized that the only way to stop making more than we need is to only make what we sell and flip the supply chain on its head.
That’s how Public Habit came to be. Premium quality essentials made at top-tier manufacturers in small batches, based on demand (customers) not supply (manufacturers and brands). This means our products take longer to get to the customer but reduces waste by 30% for every item we create. Plus, by going straight to the source and stripping out a lot of other inefficiencies in the supply chain, we can offer tremendous value and transparency on these premium items.
Public Habit x Armoire Collaboration
Why should women rent your clothes?
Made-to-last quality and versatility. Instead of focusing on expensive marketing and ad campaigns, we focus on finding the very best fabric and partnering with the most advanced, experienced factories who typically produce for top, global luxury brands. For example, our cashmere is from the same supplier as Burberry and Louis Vuitton. Every piece is designed with versatility in mind. Every sweater, every coat, and everything we create must pass two important tests: Does this elevate a casual, everyday look? and Can it be worn at least ten different ways/with ten different outfits?
What outfit do you feel most powerful in?
Black jeans, black boots, a cozy cashmere hoodie, and an oversized wool coat. Fall all day every day.
Suit and tie. Obviously.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while running a business?
Don’t assume that others know more than you do about anything. Curiosity will always lead you in the right direction. Continue learning, asking questions and you’ll realize you’re capable of doing a hell of a lot more than you could have possibly imagined.
Who’s your boss lady inspiration?
There are too many to choose from but: Michelle Obama and Eileen Fisher’s baby. And I look to my mother and two older sisters for just about every lesson on how to be brave, humble and true to myself.
Any fun facts? Or anything else you’d like to share?
- 4 of our 5 factory partners in China are owned and run by bad-ass women.
- Zakhar spent 105 days last year outside of the US visiting countries as diverse as Russia, Bali, Germany, and the Maldives!
- Sydney knows over 1000 Mandarin Chinese characters after studying the language for almost ten years.