Staying Curious podcast episode 004: Marci Zaroff, founder & CEO of ECOfashion Corp.

Get Marci’s Top Three Tips for designers, manufacturers, distributors, marketers who are ready to embrace what is shaping up to be a non-negotiable consumer demand for sustainability. 

When it comes to having a far-reaching vision ahead of its time, Marci Zaroff is Exhibit A. This fashion innovator and entrepreneur has been crusading for global environmental and social awareness for three decades, steadily chipping away at unsustainable practices while developing alternative models to protect the planet. As she explains on this episode of The Staying Curious Podcast, time is up for fashion industry supply chains that contribute to pollution and social inequity. The momentum is unmistakable, with new technologies emerging daily and a younger generation that is demanding wholesale change.  

Among other things, you’ll learn about: 

  • How Marci got engaged with this career-long project. 

  • Exciting developments among the brands and platform she’s developed at ECOfashion

  • Parallels between the adoption of organic, eco-sensitive best practices in the food and fashion industries. 

The episode wraps with Marci’s Top Three Tips for designers, manufacturers, distributors, marketers and anyone else in the fashion industry ready to embrace what is shaping up to be a non-negotiable consumer demand for sustainability. It’s indisputably a huge sea change – and we all need to be swimming fast or risk inevitably getting swamped! 

If you’re inspired by Marci’s pioneering efforts and the inroads she’s made in promoting social and environmental justice, you won’t want to miss reading her terrific book: "ECOrenaissance: A Lifestyle Guide for Cocreating a Stylish, Sexy, and Sustainable World." 


About Marci Zaroff, founder & CEO of ECOfashion Corp. 

  • [00:25] About Marci, who coined the term ECOfashion in 1995 and is an internationally recognized educator, innovator, serial entrepreneur and author.  

  • [00:45] A quick overview of ECOfashion, a canopy that supports four sustainable textile verticals, consulting services and a retail platform. 

  • [02:35] Marci shares her experience pioneering an eco-aware brand 30 years ago and the platform she has developed to enable responsible manufacturing – a means of inspiring designers, influencers and others in the industry to adopt and embed sustainable practices with social and environmental accountability.


Exciting developments among the brands and platform developed at ECOfashion

  • [03:58] Further defining Marci’s plug-and-play, bespoke manufacturing platform that meets brands and retailers where they are in their process. 

  • [04:31] All about Marci’s innovative, highly customizable yes and brand. 

  • [06:48] Why now? The environment and social justice were a tough sale in the fashion industry 30 years ago but Marci took that as a challenge and looked for ways to reduce stigma and create alternative manufacturing practices. 

  • [08:27] Building out new systems based on sustainable practices required years of innovating viable alternatives at every juncture of a very complicated supply chain – a daunting task. 

  • [10:08] How Marci supports environmentally sensitive clothing manufacturing through MetaWear, a company that helps brands and retailers manage the complexities of eco-friendly and leverage solutions to support sustainable: 

- Sourcing and logistics  

- Design and merchandising 

- Product development and production 

- On-the-ground QC inspections and support 

- Certifications and sustainability 

- Marketing and storytelling 

  • [13:54] Marci highlights the broad spectrum of clients she serves, which is reflective of the countless ways in which textiles touch everything from high fashion to mass market retailers to grocery stores.  

  • [15:18] How mass market retailers deploy Marci’s consulting services to break down silos and come up with sustainable practices that work holistically across the enterprise. 

  • [16:05] The pressure is real: Companies that don’t integrate responsible practices know they are at risk of public shaming on social media and potential legal risk. More and more information has meant more exposure and accountability. There’s no hiding! 

  • [19:23]  Fast Fashion is dying not just because it’s an environmental blight but because consumers are demanding responsible practices and supply chain transparency. 

  •  [21:04] About the tremendous impacts technology is having – and will continue to have – on everything from non-toxic textiles, on-demand manufacturing, minimizing waste, commercial practices and other smart fashion practices.  

  • [23:25] Why there is a whole new dance between the virtual and physical worlds and how it’s changing everything! 

  • [24:52] The narrative around eco-consciousness is driving new models of sustainable commerce embraced by consumers who want the right products at the right price with the right social justice and environmental story. 


Parallels between the adoption of organic, eco-sensitive best practices in the food and fashion industries

  • [28:1] Marci unpacks the parallels between food and farming practices, which are intertwined with all elements of clothing manufacturing. It’s about values and value! 

  • [30:25] The transformational role soil plays in protecting the ecosystem and impacts climate change, water supplies and health.  


Three top tips for designers

  • [33:20] Marci offers Three Top Tips for designers who want to do better: 

  1. Don’t try to get there overnight. Be strategic and methodical rather than trying to do it all right out of the gate. Start somewhere, but start simple. 
  2. Collaboration is key to advancing the agenda. Partner with others and focus on “cooper-tition” to achieve common goals like carbon neutralization. 
  3. Buyer beware. If you’re not working with a reputable consultant to help navigate, you’re at risk for all kinds of fraud and misrepresentation.  
  • [36:23] Looking Ahead: MetaWear is putting together a factory of the future (slated for 2024) that will showcase technologies that support smart fashion. 

Gerber Innovation Center features the Gerber Microfactory which is a fully connected solution that enables customized, made-to-measure and on-demand production.