Note: Between the Sheets updates our sustainability statement on an annual basis or as we introduce new collections or products. We archive our previous sustainability policies here on our blog.
Between the Sheets is guided by the philosophy that our business should strive to support the three pillars of sustainability: economy, society, and environment. Sustainability is a daily commitment to look at each decision that our business makes and to evaluate the economic, societal, and environmental costs and benefits.
Sustainability is an ever evolving journey, not a destination. It means making informed decisions and being honest with our customers, so that you can make educated choices about the products you are purchasing. It’s important to us to share the conversations that typically remain behind the scenes, giving you greater insight into how our brand is made.
We also invite you to read more about our sustainability practices below and delve into the issues on our blog.
BTS Lingerie’s Sustainability practices
Sourcing and Supply Chain
How the globalization of clothing manufacturing affects even small businesses like us, and the end consumer.
Between the Sheets sources the fabric and other components for our garments locally from New York or other USA based suppliers whenever possible and purchases raw materials in bulk to reduce the environmental impact of transportation.
Because of the global nature of the textile industry many of the US based textile and trim suppliers manufacture or import their product from overseas and there are certain fibers, and manufacturing processes that are only found in specific parts of the world. For example the main supplier of the beech wood based fibers which are spun into the Modal that is used in our Basic Play, Come out and Play, and Well Played groups is based in Austria and our particular Modal fabrics are woven in Italy. This Austrian company was the original developer of Modal and other cellulose based fibers. Although these fibers are now available from other manufacturers, they are the only manufacturer with decades of experience producing these fibers in a sustainable manner, where other manufacturers do not share the same commitment and transparency. As our company grows Between the Sheets is working to source all fabrics from suppliers based in the United States. Because of our commitment to sustainability we would continue to source fabric containing Modal fibers that would originate from this Austrian supplier, but will move to source fabric that is woven domestically thus increasing our purchasing from US suppliers and adding additional support to our local economy.
Raw Materials- by fiber
Where each fiber weighs in on the environmental scale and why.
Our Between the Sheets Collection Basic Play intimates, Well Played loungewear, and Come Out and Play intimates feature incredibly soft modal blend fabrics made from sustainably harvested beech trees.
Although it is often compared to cotton modal is made from beech tree fibers, farmed in a renewable manner, and converted using a closed loop chemical process that does not pollute the environment. This is in contrast to cotton which uses an enormous amount of water and pesticides (even organic cotton uses a lot of water—without the harmful pesticides). Our modal fabrics are woven and dyed in Europe in a vertically integrated mill powered by renewable hydro-power and are OEKO-TEX certified to be free of harmful substances. We chose our fabric supplier carefully as not all modal fabric is woven in mills powered by renewable energy or uses fibers derived from sustainably farmed trees manufactured in a sustainable or toxic-free manner.
While the Lycra (blended in our modal) is not a natural or sustainable material it provides a high degree of durability, wear, and stretch thus prolonging the time from purchase to landfill.
The signature lace used on all of our intimates styles is manufactured in the US and we have developed custom laces for seasonal collections that are also manufactured in the US. With the decline of manufacturing in America there are many industries that no longer have a US based manufacturing presence. Although there are many overseas lace suppliers by working with a local manufacturer we support the local economy and help to keep lace production in the US. They also happen to make beautiful lace which is another great reason to buy from them!
Laces tend to be made from Nylon or other blends of synthetics, and we could choose more sustainable materials, but there is something about lace and lingerie that goes so well together. Rather than sacrifice design in this case we are using relatively small amounts of something that will make a flattering and appealing garment.
The Nylon lace and mesh from our Petal Play and Airplay collections are sourced from US based textile importers.
The silks used in our Layla L’obatti for Between the Sheets Specimens of Seduction collection are all sourced locally in New York. Because finding local silk mills is not realistic, we chose the alternative of sourcing locally instead of from overseas suppliers. The New York City Garment Center hosts an enormous array of suppliers, the concentration of these resources in the Garment Center is critical to the development of new designers and supports the local garment industry. We choose to pay more to source our silk locally to support the Garment Center’s local businesses. An added benefit is that many of these fabrics are dyed/printed locally and can be picked up at a local shop and doesn’t have to be shipped multiple times.
Our Venus in Play, Matchplay, Curtain Call, and Make a Pass ranges use a Poly-rayon-spandex jersey knit, made from a blend of polyester and spandex (made from non-renewable sources) and rayon manufactured from a cellulose (renewable plant based) fiber.
While all these fibers are manmade, it has allowed us to offer consumers a wider range of Made in USA sleepwear at an affordable price. Ideally we would be able to manufacture locally, using sustainable fiber, at a lower price- but those fibers currently command a premium in the marketplace and as they gain wider use the price of the raw materials will make that possible.
Raw Materials- by design
How design and functionality meets sustainable thought
Airplay – Petal Play
The sheerness of lace and mesh are not really achievable with anything other than nylon. These two ranges use nylon lace and mesh sourced through US importers. Both ranges are trimmed with our signature made in the US stretch (nylon spandex) lace trimming in lieu of elastics.
Basic Play – Well Played – Come Out & Play:
Our “Basic Play”, “Well Played”, and “Come out and Play” groups are made from a blend of Modal and Lycra. Although picking a fabric which is not 100% modal adds a non-sustainable fiber high Lycra content (10-12%) helps the garments wear better and last longer.
Adding Lycra to the mix is a trade-off that we believe is well worth the fit, and let’s face it- before Lycra underwear just wasn’t as fun!
Birds of Play:
This collection features an exclusive lace designed by BTS and developed by a local supplier who manufactures lace in the US. A nylon lace with a smaller ecological footprint in that it was designed, developed, manufactured, cut, and sewn all within the US.
Our Playdate group is made from a modal/silk blend. Modal is one of the softest fibers in the world, wicks away moisture, and doesn’t pill. By pairing 85% sustainable modal with 15% silk this fabric is both sustainable and a dream to touch.
Venus in Play – Matchplay
We spent three years searching for a fabric with an incredibly soft hand, that didn’t pill, and that would wash and wear beautifully. The poly-rayon-spandex fabric used in our Matchplay and Venus in Play Collections is the result of this search. This incredibly soft knit lets Between the Sheets offer more affordable collections still made in the USA, giving consumers a locally & ethically made alternative to luxury sleepwear produced overseas.
Rayon is a cellulose (plant based) fiber that mimics the properties of cotton, but as with our choice of modal we chose a fabric that was non-viscose rayon. Polyester lends this fabric durability and ease of wash and wear due to the fibers wrinkle resistance.
As we grow so does our buying power, and Between the Sheets will continue to develop our collections with other organic, eco-friendly, and sustainable materials- we also remain committed to staying transparent about the decisions that go into our designs so check back or feel free to email us if you have any questions.
Knowing where your clothing comes from is just as important as knowing where your food comes from.
Between the Sheets manufactures all of our product in New York City’s historic garment center. Producing in the US means that the workers who cut and sew our garments are paid a fair and legal wage and work under humane conditions. Producing in New York allows us to work closely with our factory and to ensure quality while also supporting our local economy.
How do we know the contractors we hire are paid fair wages and have good working conditions? First, we are regularly at the factory tinkering with how to finish a piece, making samples, inspecting pieces as they come off the line so we know what goes on there day to day. Sadly places do exist even within our borders that employ people under less than fair conditions, and we are both registered for and pledge to work with factories who adhere to New York State’s Apparel Industry Taskforce’s guidelines.
Efficient manufacturing is less wasteful and more sustainable
Between the Sheets’ manufacturing process, and any well run clothing manufacturing process, is inherently efficient and lean. From cutting fabric and trim to sewing the garments, any wastage or lack of efficiency leads to loss of profits. While wasting a few inches of fabric on one garment doesn’t seem like a lot, when you multiply that by several hundred or several thousand pieces that few inches adds up. The same can be said for the steps that are taken when sewing a garment—proper planning of the steps each garment goes through from raw materials to bagged and boxed product are critical. These efficiencies and the motivation to reduce waste, while driven by a desire to be profitable, have the side effect of being inherently more sustainable.
NYC is Our Home: Design Studio, Manufacturing, and Order Fulfillment
It may seem like an erroneous detail, but the location of office, design studio, manufacturing, and order fulfillment can impact the environment.
We design, manufacture, and fulfill e-commerce orders all from facilities located within a 4 mile radius of each other in the New York City. Designing, manufacturing, and shipping locally in New York City is both efficient, eco-friendly and supports the local economy. We also endeavor to reduce the environmental impact of shipping your order by using 100% recycled content paper to print your packing list, 100% recycled content tissue paper to wrap your order, and 88% recycled content poly-mailer to ship most orders.
Of course we pay a premium to maintain our design studio and order fulfillment in prime NYC real-estate, but the trade off is the lack of carbon emissions if we were manufacturing here and shipping or transporting to another state to store and then ship out to our customers. Instead, our garments stay local, close to where they were designed and manufactured, keeping the footprint as small as possible.
A Part of the Economic Recovery
Wondering where all that stimulus money went? No, it wasn’t just the big banks, and Detroit automakers who got it. Some of the recipients are people like us, hard-working young entrepreneurs with a dream and a vision and willing to roll up their sleeves to make American even bigger, brighter, and beautiful… and hey, we started with the basics – underwear!
Between the Sheets was fortunate to receive a small business loan backed by the Small Business Administration and supported by the economic stimulus program enacted in 2009 and a second SBA loan to fund expansion in 2012. These loans were both through a local consortium of community development credit unions. These credit unions have a mission to support economic development and provide financial services to under-served and under-privileged communities throughout New York City.
Our loans, which helped launch our first season and expand in our 3rd year of business, were quickly reinvested in our local community paying local suppliers of lace, silk, and other findings, the people who cut, sew, press, and pack our goods. Now as we are in our fifth year in business our 2009 loan has been paid back in full with interest, helping our credit union fund the next generation of local entrepreneurs.