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People and Planet: Fox and Robin CEO brings sustainability to activewear industry

Accounting for 10% of global carbon emissions and ranking as the second greatest consumer of the world’s water supply, the fashion industry has proven that it thrives on unnecessary waste and the endangerment of human life in sweatshops as well as areas near clothing production. 

Those environmental and humanitarian intersections played a large role in what motivated Tommy Flaim to start sustainable activewear company Fox and Robin

“The fashion industry’s a very dirty industry, it constitutes about 10% of global emissions. That's expected to rise to about 15% by 2050,” Flaim said. “Additionally, there’s a lot of waste in the fashion industry.”

Flaim added that the hand-in-hand nature of humanitarian and environmental issues is easily ignored by Western countries who do not see the realities of sweatshop labor and fast fashion.

“The rivers that end up with a bunch of chemicals in them, that’s not only an environmental impact, that's a human impact because the local inhabitants are drinking from that water and bathing in that water and they are getting sick because of the negative externalities that us Western consumers are essentially causing,” Flaim said.

According to Flaim, desperation from living in such immense poverty drives factories to cut corners for the sake of profit.

“There’s a pervasive ‘ignorance is bliss’ mentality… Get us 10 thousand shirts in this amount of time at this cost and we won't ask too many questions,” Flaim said.

Flaim added that ultimately, the world does not need more clothes, but higher-quality clothing that will last. Because of this, he is intentional with Fox and Robin’s designs and does not buy into trends, he said.

“Fast fashion brands are brands that capitalize on fleeting trends… inevitably every couple weeks or every couple months there's a new trend so people want to buy the newest trend,” he said. “It's an extremely unsustainable model.” Flaim said.

Flaim said that he took great inspiration from clothing companies such as Patagonia and LuluLemon, however was dissatisfied with the high cost of good quality, ethically made clothing, and thus looked to fill that space.

“After it became activewear, the North Star quickly became addressing my various pain points in the activewear industry,” Flaim said. “For example, I really like LuluLemon quality products… but their price points I find ridiculous and unaffordable sometimes…” Flaim said.

As a result, Flaim said he recruited designers from companies such as Under Armour and LuluLemon to help build the vision he had for his brand but at a smaller cost to consumers.

The second point Flaim said he wanted to address within the activewear industry is the high-intensity nature of activewear brands. He said his goal in creating Fox and Robin was to remind everyone that at the end of the day, sports are games that are just as much done for mental health as physical health. 

“I go on runs as much just to clear my mind and feel happy and good as much as it is to be in good physical shape,” Flaim said.

Flaim also said he focuses greatly on making his brand more inclusive and realistic, using both professional athletes and everyday people in the promotional video on the Fox and Robin website.

Fox and Robin is a highly needed transparent and ethical company that bridges the gap between wasteful yet inexpensive athletic wear and high-quality but overpriced athletic wear, a space in the fashion industry that has needed filling for a long time.

Meg Diehl is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Meg by tweeting her at @irlbug.

Megan Diehl

Assistant Opinion Editor

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