Seven years ago, we launched a menswear experiment we called Lazlo. Built on an admiration for timeless design and a commitment to healthy local economies, Lazlo was part of a burgeoning movement towards transparency and sustainability. 

We find ourselves increasingly interested in the dynamics that underpin this generational shift. Our next project, re:human, is an exploration of the cultural and political factors that unlock change.

Dealing with systemic issues requires cross-sector collaboration, yet often they’re examined within industry silos. In the apparel industry, we’ve seen a disconnect between structural problems and the partners or skillsets necessary to address them:

  • Voluntary commitments to ethical business practices have gotten the ball rolling, but policymakers are largely absent from industry-led conversations. To keep moving forward, opt-in mechanisms must be combined with regulation that prevents bad actors from continuing with business as usual. 

  • Early-stage innovation in the circular economy is funded through structures designed for short-term returns and closely held IP. Entrepreneurs need to partner with forward-thinking investors and legal counsel to develop structures that facilitate collaboration and encourage longer investment horizons.

  • Nonprofits and grassroots activists are held back by limited budgets for creative work. Meanwhile, top creative talent is on the lookout for stories that can resonate. 

  • Soundbites, now pervasive, are antithetical to the engagement and clarity that lead to breakthroughs and movements. New business models are needed to direct attention and funding to independent journalism.

Working on deeply entrenched issues takes a toll. Widening inequality, plummeting biodiversity, racial injustice, ocean acidification—these are challenges unlikely to be resolved in our lifetime. For leaders driving these efforts, relationships with their peers sustain energy and provide vital insight.

As we come up against vested interests protecting the status quo, our leverage will be determined by our ability to connect on a human level across divides. Trust and empathy mobilize collective action.

In our own lives, we’ve seen that these relationships don’t just materialize; they require intention and space to develop. Re:human is a newsletter and conversation series focused on bringing people together to build the foundation for bold and collaborative solutions.