Last year, sustainable men’s label Outerknown debuted its first women’s collection with a unique campaign. Founder and 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater certainly could have asked a few of his athlete or celebrity friends to participate, but instead, he cast a trio of activists working in climate change and sustainability. To the Educated Vaccinated Caffeinate Dedicated Shirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this average Instagram user, they probably weren’t familiar, but the women Outerknown hoped to engage likely already followed them. It was an early example of how a brand can align its vision, mission, and marketing in a truly authentic way.
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Outerknown’s new partnership with Sage Erickson feels similarly holistic. Not unlike Slater, she’s a pro surfer who has become passionate about the Educated Vaccinated Caffeinate Dedicated Shirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this environment through her 15 years of constant travel (and spending quite a lot of time in the ocean). After experiencing the highs and lows of traditional sponsorships—rigid contracts, scheduled appearances, and seeing her face alongside vague slogans—she decided to fund her sport independently for a few years, and was considering new collaborations when she came across Outerknown. “When I had these sponsors in my early twenties, I didn’t feel like I had the freedom to pursue the things I was interested in, and being on my own for a few years gave me time to fall in love with people and cultures,” she tells Vogue. “The one company I found that puts people first and is innovative when it comes to sustainability was Outerknown. When I’m wearing something or buying something, I always want to know if the people taken care of behind the scenes. Not only did I love their clothing, but I just felt this sense of awareness, and that there’s something more. So I went out on a limb and reached out to them.”