Kristy Caylor launched For Days in 2018, almost exactly three years ago. Vogue’s launch story began with a compelling prompt from Caylor: “What if we could have everything we want without creating waste?” For Days has made significant strides in that direction. It was (and is) a first-of-its-kind brand premised on true circularity, offering organic cotton basics—think T-shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts, and lounge pants—that can be worn out and sent back to Caylor’s team to be upcycled into new garments. For Days even reuses its packaging when it can. “It’s this idea that items can float in and out of your life whenever you need them, and you know they’ll be taken care of,” Caylor explains.
Initially, trying out that zero-waste model required a For Days subscription, which included three, six, or 10 T-shirts that you could send back (and swap for new ones) at certain intervals. In the years since, For Days’s product offering has expanded in tandem with growing consumer consciousness and greater urgency around climate change. “We’ve had to twist, turn, and iterate on what we were doing,” she says. “Our customer is really engaged in sustainability, but we learned they had a bit of subscription fatigue, and it was actually inspiring them to overuse. It was a conflict of values, and that was really eye-opening.” Caylor retired the subscription model about a year ago; the experience became more like a traditional e-commerce site, and customers could decide when to send their items back.
For Days was still closing the loop, but a semitraditional e-commerce experience isn’t Caylor’s ultimate goal. Her biggest ambition is to build For Days into “a destination for closed-loop commerce,” one that will grow beyond For Days products and engage other brands, designers, and retailers. The collaboration factor could be revolutionary: Instead of trying to create take-back schemes or resale platforms of their own—and potentially failing—designers could soon partner with For Days on the tech and logistics. “It isn’t easy to execute a take-back program, and it isn’t easy to make it a good experience for the customer either,” Caylor says. “We’ve been building this for a few years and have developed a supply chain of postconsumer recyclers and resellers to sort, prioritize, and upcycle the clothes. The difference is in the technology and infrastructure.”Photo: Courtesy of For Days
Today, she’s unveiling a big update on the tech front: For Days’s new Closet and Credit system. Now, when you purchase a T-shirt or sweatshirt on the site, you’ll see two prices: the one you pay up front, and the one you’ll receive as a credit when you send the item back to be recycled. A ribbed tank is $22, with a “swap value” of $5.50, while a printed tee that goes for $28 will put $7 in your “swap bank.” As you shop, the dollar amount in your swap bank will grow, and you can put those credits toward new items at any time (as long as you send back the old ones). It’s an entirely new approach to value, one Caylor feels is less transactional and will create a long-term relationship with the customer.
“We wanted to figure out a way to make customers feel like they’re in the driver’s seat, but they’re still incentivized to do the right thing, which is to return stuff as it wears out,” she says. That goes for non–For Days products too; you can fill up one of their “clean out the crap” bags with anything in your closet—stained button-downs, old sweaters, underwear, jeans—and in addition to recycling it, they’ll reward you with a $10 credit in your swap bank. “It’s really this idea that everything you buy has a future credit,” Caylor adds. “Your whole closet is currency.”
After wearing through your T-shirts and donating a few bags of old clothes, you may have enough in your bank to cover the full cost of a new sweatshirt, and it would feel like it’s free. (Consider it a big step up from the membership points and loyalty rewards other companies have offered in the past.) Caylor was early to recognize the changing interests and habits of the consumer, and is wise to empower them with greater access and flexibility. “I’m very encouraged that customers feel they have a voice,” she says. “I’ve always believed the values of the consumer are shifting pretty dramatically. I’m happy to see them have a platform, and we hope to give a voice to the people who care about these issues.”Photo: Courtesy of For Days