Sustainability isn’t meaningless corporate jargon for Andrew Gibbs-Dabney.
The CEO of the Fayetteville-based outdoor apparel company LIVSN has defined his company by its sustainability. Gibb-Dabney launched LIVSN as a way to create high-quality outdoor clothing that would hold up over time, using recycled, natural or environmentally friendly materials.
LIVSN’s mission statement lays out this commitment plainly: “Build durable and versatile outdoor clothing that encourages people to wear it more, keep it longer, and spend more time outdoors.” For Gibbs-Dabney, that means making less clothing – a concept that might strike some retailers as counter-intuitive – but making it more versatile and longer-lasting.
In a 2018 interview with Arkansas Money & Politics, Gibbs-Dabney said, “We had too much gear, too many jackets, and too much stuff. This started us down a path of shedding belongings. This process forced us to take stock of what we owned and make decisions on what to keep. We kept what mattered. We’re not advocates for extreme minimalism, and don’t preach throwing away all belongings. We like things, especially those made with care. We kept what was well-made, served its purpose well, and especially those pieces that had sentimental value. We kept what mattered.”
Now he is taking that same sustainable ethos and applying it to the packaging for LIVSN products. Gibbs-Dabney has announced that LIVSN will be eliminating its use of poly bags when packing its clothing. Instead, the company is moving to the use of roll-packing.
Before the announcement, LIVSN individually packaged products in a polypropylene bag. With roll-packing, apparel will be carefully rolled – to minimize wrinkles – and then tied with paper twine.
LIVSN wasn’t his first foray into apparel – Gibbs-Dabney previously served as the CEO of apparel company Fayettechill. Leading apparel companies has provided him with an up-close view of the waste the apparel industry can generate.
He told Arkansas Money & Politics that this waste contradicted LIVSN’s corporate value, and he decided to take decisive action.
“As someone working in the apparel industry, I witnessed the sheer volume of these little polybags stuffing bins and littering floors of retail receiving rooms for years. It always bothered me personally and also struck me as a big contradiction to the environmentally conscious nature of most outdoor companies,” he said. “Since the beginning of LIVSN, we’ve had aggressive sustainability goals – so when the opportunity arose to learn the details of roll-packing we jumped on it quickly and had it implemented within two months.”
According to Gibbs-Dabney, silica packs will no longer be used. Instead, dried clay packs will be used to dry moisture.
The only remaining plastic used in LIVSN’s packaging process will be a single poly bag lining for delivery boxes. These bags, he noted, are sourced to be 100 percent recycled.
Gibbs-Dabney released a series of essays (you can read them here and here) in February 2018 outlining LIVSN’s sustainability approach. He said that he realized that sustainability does not stop at the materials that make up LIVSN’s apparel.
“Our stance is that being sustainable goes well beyond the raw materials of our product. It starts with the initial design and flows through the entire company — supply chain, operations, personnel — ultimately ending with the product’s end-of-life. As in this case, being greener in company operations and actions doesn’t always mean more expense. It just takes the intention and the willingness to put in the work,” he said.
In his February essay on sustainability, Gibbs-Dabney wrote that the apparel industry pollutes more than any other global industry with the exception of the oil industry. Making sustainability a priority is critical for businesses, which he said should shoulder “the burden for the biggest share of change.”
Consumers still have a share of that burden, as well, and Gibbs-Dabney is providing them with a sustainable option with LIVSN. By creating a sustainable outdoors apparel company, he is aiming to preserve the outdoors he loves – one pair of pants at a time.
“The consumer’s job is to vote with their wallet. No one likes a loud, dirty neighbor so why would they support a wasteful, polluting company? A brand can act right and still make great profits and I think it’s the only right way to do it. We only have one planet and I’d like my grandkids to have access to the same wild places I do.”