Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nau -All "Purpose" Apparel

Portland, Oregon-based clothing company Nau has struck the perfect balance of high-quality products, sustainable practices and inspired giving. The company specializes in outdoor apparel with an urban twist, utilizing strong design and dark, earthy colors to capture a look that's "minimalist, modern and timeless," and equipped for long-term durability.
Perhaps most importantly for any boutique clothing line, Nau has a penchant for great lifestyle branding. Beyond just the design of the clothes, which definitely pop, the company champions The Nau Collective, a loosely affiliated community of artists, designers and activists, as well as their funky and insightful blog, The Thought Kitchen, that's "dedicated to stirring the pot."

If the sleek, cool design of the clothes and the overall strength of the brand weren't enough, though, it's Nau's built-in commitment to sustainability that sets them apart. According to their own "Principles of Design," Nau creates clothes and accessories based on a three-fold commitment to sustainability.
First, the social platform of their principles requires that 2% of all proceeds go to Nau's Partners for Change, a group of non-profits such as The Breakthrough Institute, a pro-environment think tank devoted to clean energy solutions, and Kiva, a micro-lending website that allows users to help finance entrepreneurs around the globe. They also sponsor an annual Grant for Change contest, in which innovative individuals and orgnizations compete for a $10,000 grant.

The second tier of Nau's Principles of Design governs materials. The company strives to utilize renewable, highly recyclable fabrics. Their shipping philosophy entails extensive carbon offsets, and an overall strategy to maximize the energy efficiency of transporting goods. In purchasing, sourcing and constructing their clothing, Nau stresses traceability, allowing their staff and buyers to know the source of fabrics. They place a strong emphasis on fair labor practices, verifying standards in their factories via independent audit. They even have a fascinating corner of their website devoted to "working with wool," which details Nau's commitment to animal health, good land management and high environmental standards in the use of that material.

The third platform of Nau's "Principles of Design" governs the aesthetic of their clothing, a matter that speaks for itself as soon as you take a glimpse at their hip, fitted looks.

Without a doubt, Nau has tapped straight into the new zeitgeist of philanthropic and sustainable business. Their great products, backed by a strong mission, go a long way toward lending a serious cool factor to environmentally-friendly giving.

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