I am disappointed and disheartened to let you know that Nau clothing company is closing up shop. With all its heart, smarts, R&D and TLC, we are losing a company with perhaps the most potential to improve the way the garment industry works. As part of its “winding down business operations,” everything at Nau is 50 percent off — a very temporary silver lining. I went straight for the Lean Jean and Chrysalis dress jacket, though sadly the latter was already out of stock. (The jeans were only $69, plus shipping!) In celebration of the legacy of Nau, and in hopes that they’ll be back someday, here’s a list of a dozen amazing things you probably didn’t know about the company.
Personal challenge for when you start your own clothing company:
1. Nau was started by a group of dreamers, fed up with the unethical, unforgiving, unconscientious way of life our culture has adopted. The founders knew consumerism wasn’t the way out of that mess, but what if philanthropy was?
2. Nau donates 5 percent of its gross sales to a selected group of non-profits, which the buyer selects in the last step of the check-out process.
3. Back when Nau was just an idea, about three years ago, its working name was UTW: Un-fuck the World.
4. In terms of social governance, Nau was started with the ground rules that the highest-paid employee can’t make more than 12 times the lowest paid and the lowest-paid employee must make a minimum of 1-1/2 times minimum wage.
5. The founders said that the world didn’t need another outdoor clothing company. Their design philosophy was established to value Beauty, Performance and Sustainability.
6. The target audience of Nau’s design aesthetic is artists, athletes and activists — the people who have historically made change.
7. As I’ve mentioned before, Nau garments are designed “vague and inconclusively” — a given garment would look natural in multiple contexts, like biking, skiing and walking to the store.
8. The ideal criteria for a Nau garment are: Lasts 10 years; ease of repair; multi-use; cradle-to-cradle materials, potentially biodegradable; minimal environmental impact; east of distribution.
9. Nau has innovated about 20 raw materials for use in its garments. They are very critical of any shortcomings of these materials but use primarily organic cotton, wool, recycled polyester and polyactic acid.
10. Nau manufactures overseas with labor standards created by a third party. Mark Galbraith, VP of Design, says that clothing made in the U.S. can be made only to the level of detail as an American Apparel garment, and that now only overseas factories can offer the finer detail and quality Nau required. They do offset the overseas shipping.
11. Nau stores are small and boutique-like, like a showroom rather than a typical store. Because the current system of warehousing and distribution leaves such a footprint, with constant trucking back and forth and warehouse upkeep, Nau encourages shoppers to order their clothes online. The clothes are in store for you to try on, and you can choose to buy them there — or you can order them to be shipped to your home for a 10 percent discount. Nau has calculated that shipping individual orders through FedEx has less impact on the environment than maintaining stores.
12. At nau.com, the link Grey Matters gives you all the behind-the-scenes info you could ever want from a company.