clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Inside Reformation's Sustainable Sewing Factory and HQ in Boyle Heights

New, 1 comment

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Back in 2012, designer Yael Aflalo explained over juice that she "wanted to do things different" with her eco-conscious label, Reformation. Always one to lead by example, the formerly bicoastal brand made a major move by opening America's first sustainable sewing factory (and relocating its entire design team) just outside of Downtown LA.

The It Girl-faved brand's HQ is even bigger than when it first landed in Boyle Heights, totaling 33,500 square feet after taking over its next-door neighbor's space. Its anti-waste assembly line isn't the only place the brand practices what it preaches: the stylish design studios feature used and vintage furniture, the kitchen's fully-stocked with mason jars as drinking cups and reusable utensils (no paper or plastic here!), and the back garden encourages green-thumbed employees to plant fruits and veggies.

This year, Aflalo tells us the game-changing factory will produce approximately 125,000 pieces. (All the better to convert more ladies to the Reformation Nation.) Above, take a tour of the brand's spacious canine-friendly place—which is decked out with an Insta-worthy mural by artist Curtis Kulig—and find out the story behind Ref's space, why being "granola" isn't a bad thing, and more.

What inspired you to move to this particular location?

I grew up in LA and my parents owned a store in Downtown, so I got to know that area well. As we started to grow, we saw some challenges in creating sustainable clothing without using traditional manufacturing methods overseas, which is when we set out to create our own factory here in LA.

What do you love about the space?

The factory used to be a bakery, but we took over and transformed into the first sustainable sewing factory in the US! The factory allows us to create our own rules and have complete oversight over our process—we design, manufacture, photograph, and ship all from this one location in downtown Los Angeles.

Having our own factory also allows us to closely monitor what is selling in order to meet demand and limit our waste. We also overhauled the backyard and planted a beautiful garden which includes a section for our employees to grow vegetables!

What are some of the biggest challenges as a sustainable brand?

When I first started this company, we were told to play down the fact that we were an eco-focused clothing brand because people would automatically roll their eyes at us and associate "green" with "granola." At the time, many eco brands weren't looking at trends or focusing on fit, which was another motivator for me to do something different with Reformation.

Hindsight is always 20/20. What advice would you give your Ya-Ya-era self?

I would tell her she's doing great! Where I am now is because of the path I have taken. Having Ya-Ya forced me to explore the fashion industry and see its negative effects firsthand with my own eyes. Without Ya-Ya there would be no Reformation.

What are some of your fondest memories of Reformation's beginnings?

In the beginning, I was able to literally have my hands on everything. There was only a few of us—we cut up vintage dresses and had a sewer in the back of the first store who would stitch everything up for us. Our items were truly one-of-a-kind and it felt very much like a small family.

Where do you see Reformation in five years? Think you'll ever branch out into accessories and footwear?

We are constantly inspired and releasing new collections, so stay tuned for many more surprises on our end. We hope that in five years people will look back and say that Reformation jump-started the chic, eco-movement in fashion.

Who are your current favorite #RefBabes?

We love all of our #RefBabes! The thing that's great about Reformation is that we don't design with just one muse in mind and think our customers are confident, hard-working and cool women. That said, it is incredibly flattering to see Giovanna Battaglia in our designs and also have the support of Taylor Swift and Lily Aldridge, all women who perfectly embody our brand.