Toolbox Overview

A reflection on past year; plan for this year:

Hello!

It’s time for us to take a beat and reflect on how we have gone with our Toolbox goals over the past 12 months.

I re-read my opening paragraph from last year and was like “YES! WHAT SHE SAID!!”. So in the true spirit of re-use, I’m going to paste it here:

We all know that the way the fashion industry works needs to change. But let’s face it, it’s much bigger than that. We need to relook at the way that our entire society works. A realignment of society’s priorities will mean a realignment of the fashion industry. What a huge and exciting proposition! So how on earth do we get there? As the leader of a (smallish) company this question sits with me every single day. In addition, how do we maintain a functioning business right now, within the current paradigms, AND create a societal shift? It is at this point that I teeter on being overwhelmed. However! We’ve all sat in an HR workshop so we know about SMART goals right? The crucial point is that we identify key areas where we think we can be most useful in contributing to positive change and then laser-focus on measurable actions to advance them.

I feel proud of the work that we have done on our Toolbox goals for sure. The cool thing is that we are clear about where we need to be as a society, and at the same time we are clear about how we can contribute to that. I’m not gonna lie, there are times that I do still feel overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s when we get a knockback (the closed-loop fabric just can’t go that perfect shade of blue, or once again the door that led us to the answer at Mindful Fashion NZ is actually a door to a snake pit of more QUESTIONS and BUREAUCRACY).

What was initially surprising to me is that I have felt most overwhelmed when we reach a milestone or hit one of our goals. Now that I think about it makes sense. The effort required to complete a task can feel enormous, you feel a buzz at reaching success but then it’s a heavy fall when you realise it’s just another lil drop in the bucket. But, a good sleep helps me pick myself back up and get myself ready to contribute another drop to that bucket. That ever-changing, shapeshifting bucket. Here’s a summary of what we have done in relation to the goals we talked with you about last year. For some of them I've added a lil extension because who doesn’t love that girl in class that goes extra-curricular? After that, (and I apologise) there is a deluge of information. Very much not snack-able! It does however show you all of the different facets we need to consider as a business, and the volume of work our team puts in to make real gains. Bit-by-bit, better-and-better.

So, what are our goal areas?

  1. Shift from a linear to a circular company and contribute to a greater circular eco-system in New Zealand

  2. Build skills in our local manufacturing industry

  3. Play our part in New Zealand meeting its goals in the Zero Carbon Act

  4. Manufacture our product responsibly

  5. We All Belong Here

We had starry-eyed dreams of publishing a nice-looking report (it’s in our blood – we want things to look nice!) but, to be honest, right now our time is best spent just getting on with it. Directly below I have set the actions we have taken over the past year, some reflections on how it’s gone, and the plan for the next year. A note on sustainability: Sustainability has taken on so many meanings, and has been used in both honest and dishonest ways, that at times it can feel meaningless and at others it can feel oppressive. Practically, for us at RUBY, sustainability is about continuous, long term improvements for the people and places that we directly and indirectly interact with. Yes, it is things like using recycled polyester rather than virgin. But it also means that we contribute to a sense of worth for some people in our community by offering training. Or ensuring that our garments are built to last, and giving you guidance on how to care for them.

As always, I am grateful for your questions and suggestions. We know we can always do better.

x

Em

RUBY General Manager

Goal 1: Linear → Circular

Shift from a linear to a circular company and contribute to a greater circular eco-system in New Zealand

Done:

Liam Patterns:

Liam Patterns were launched in April of 2020, amidst the New Zealand COVID Lockdown. The idea for our patterns steamed from the idea of restaurants selling their intellectual property by way of cookbooks, and thoughts into how we could do the same. Lockdown provided the perfect opportunity to make our patterns available to our customer, as a craft project to keep themselves busy during those long days at home. Our patterns are printed on paper made from waste materials that occur as a byproduct of pine forest production in New Zealand, encompassing our goal of a circular economy for our products.

Sewing Classes:

The birth of Liam Patterns, gave rise to the fact that not everyone is a knowledgeable sewer, and concepts that may seem obvious to some, are completely foreign to the next. With this, Emily started interactive Sewing Classes via Zoom, during lockdown, to allow the customers of Liam Patterns to put these questions to a knowledgeable understanding source. These Zoom sessions have continued to grow in attendance and complexity, as those who once started out with us as newbie sewers, are becoming more advanced, which is an incredible journey to be alongside them for!

Wastage:

You know the curve of the neckline of your t-shirt? When it is cut out of a piece of fabric, the inverse of that is often thrown away as wastage, due to it being an irregular shape that is too small to use for anything else. Industry standard is for 30% of fabric to be treated as wastage. Our target is 25%, and we report on this weekly as a production team to ensure this target is being met In 2021 we introduced fabric offcut boxes in our stores, which allows customers to take home RUBY fabric offcuts, to make their own small items, such as face masks, and bookbags. As not everyone has access to the patterns for these, our RUBY 2021 wrapping paper has the pattern on it! This means that every customer is leaving our store with a free pattern, and has the fabric to make it available to them for free! In addition, offcuts of fabrics used in production are repurposed within our RUBY Academy Technical Training Workshops. Our apprentices use the fabrics in a new innovative way, to create their garments, to avoid it heading into the landfills, as it otherwise would.

Matchmaker:

As fashion trends are ever changing, and as such our customers' style evolves, just as do bodies over time, RUBY Matchmaker is an online portal for our customers to tell us what previous season pieces they are looking for or looking to sell. This allows us on the backend to match up the seller and want-to-buyee to exchange this item between themselves. This again reaches into our goal of a circular economy, and giving our garments a second life, as to ensure they do not end up as waste!

Mindful Fashion NZ Circularity Working Group:

We joined and took part in a Mindful Fashion NZ Circulatory working group, where our members came together, to work collaboratively to create ideas and innovations, to create circular industry solutions.

Usedfully:

We participated in Usedfully’s working groups and workshops to contribute to the writing of this report, and develop pilot projects for nationwide product stewardship schemes.

RUBY Recycle:

RUBY Recycle is our curated edit of pre-loved Vintage pieces and RUBY & Liam Samples. RUBY Recycle allows any customer to browse these through RUBY Recycle on our website, again ensuring that these garments are given a second life. Samples that are not manufactured for sale are often tossed aside, when in fact they may be exactly what somebody is looking for, RUBY Recycle allows for this customer to purchase it, at a reduced retail price, what a win-win! We moved this to an instagram platform in Level 4 lockdown of 2021, check it here

RUBY Upside Down:

We launched RUBY Upside Down in mid-2021, with the intention of ensuring that where production just doesn’t quite go as planned, the garments are not put to waste. This is where RUBY Upside Down comes in, as you can purchase faulty or second garments from us directly at a lower than retail price, ensuring they do not go to waste and giving the garment a first-life.

Reflections from Em:

While we have made great strides towards Goal 1, the goal posts for this goal, and in fact all of our goals, are ever moving. Once we have done all we think that we can do, there is always more that we can do, which is both exciting and scary all at once! We believe that in order for meaningful change to be made towards achieving a circular economy, a true structural change needs to happen. This needs to be a changed that is pushed by all of us, all the time. It can get tiring! Progress can be slow! And we need to work collaboratively with many different entities and companies. This means things like scheduling Zoom calls can be a bit of a nightmare. But staying focused on where we need to go is what helps.

To Do From Here:

Here are our goals for 2022:

  • Zero-waste Liam collection (in stores from October)
  • ⅓ of RUBY fabrics are either certified dead stock or manufactured in a certified closed-loop process
  • Continue to work on solutions for RUBY & Liam ends and offcuts created in the manufacturing process, both in house and in collaboration with others
  • Continue to contribute to collaborative clothing industry, or cross-industry projects
  • Externally report on fabric wastage per garment and collection
  • Work with our offshore-based suppliers to ensure minimal disposal in landfill
  • Matchmaker IRL event
  • Reusable courier bags

Goal 2: Strengthen Local

Build skills in our local manufacturing industry

Done:

RUBY Academy Technical Training Workshops:

Our RUBY Academy Technical Training Workshops allowed budding pattern makers, cutters and machinists to learn and create in innovative ways using RUBY’s production waste streams. In order for apprentices to improve, they need on-hand practice with materials which factories cannot risk on someone who is still learning.

MFNZ Board Membership & contributor to development of formal apprenticeship scheme:

We are continuing our contributions to Mindful Fashion NZ, being a founding partner. Having Em sit on the Board allows for us to contribute to meaningful change across the fashion industry in New Zealand. Additionally, we are assisting in the development of the Apprenticeship Scheme, encouraging the training, upskilling and localization of clothing manufacturing in Aotearoa.

Zoom Q&A with Em:

Earlier this year, Em held a zoom Q&A on getting into a career within the clothing industry. You can check out the full zoom here.

Reflections from Em:

We have a skills shortage in the manufacturing industry in New Zealand, and many of our local makers are approaching, at or PAST retirement age! Currently there is no official apprenticeship scheme for school leavers or those who are new to the industry to participate in, so we can’t make use of the Government’s subsidies to encourage a greater up-take of apprenticeships. In addition to that, all vocational education is currently being reviewed, so the work that I have been involved in with MFNZ is a complicated set of rabbit holes.

There are some excellent design or design / construction mix training institutions, but we need a programme for people who want to learn and work (and be paid) at the same time. Wages for machinists in New Zealand are minimum to living wage. And living wage is not common.

There is a reason for this: New Zealand-made pieces are competing against products that have been made offshore with more “efficient” (from a pure $ numbers perspective) systems:

  • We have had an under investment in machinery in New Zealand over the past 40 years as the manufacturing industry has been shrinking, not growing
  • Lower minimum wage

We need to increase the perceived value of the extreme skill required to make beautiful garments so that we can increase what machinists are being paid.

I saw that the Government in Australia has recently dedicated $1million to developing an Australian fashion certification trademark promoting and endorsing the high quality of locally designed and produced products. This is something that would be beneficial in New Zealand also. By being clear that a product is made in New Zealand, and is made by a company that has this certification, the hope (pipe dream?) is that consumers will see a greater value.

To Do From Here:

Here are our goals for 2022:

  • Complete the Academy and sell the garments made through RUBY Recycle
  • Figure out the next steps for our Academy
  • Contribute to MFNZ’s work on formal apprenticeship schemes

Goal 3: Carbon Zero

Play our part in New Zealand meeting its goals in the Zero Carbon Act

TBH this is where we have done the least work. We wanted to have our April 2021 emissions at the same level as April 2020 (when we were in Level 4 lockdown).

The great news is that we worked out that support is available through Regional Business Partners to help with the cost of training around this! This funding was necessary as we are a small business and the cost of doing this is high relative to our other expenses. The application process took longer than I would have liked, basically due to COVID. We are now fully on board with Toi Tu and our goal is to spend the next 5 months scoping our use and then work with them to improve our performance. We will provide updates as we go, but hopefully with their help we can continue to strive towards reducing our carbon emissions to that of our original April 2021 goal in 2022.

Goal 4: Responsible Manufacturing

Manufacture our product responsibly

Done:

Suppliers and the MFNZ Code of Conduct:

We are endeavoring to have all our suppliers sign the MFNZ Code of Conduct to ensure that all our suppliers agree to meet what we believe to be baseline standards. T

Pre-order development:

We have used pre-order to gauge what you are loving and make sure we are not over ordering, and on the flipside ensure we have enough stock of it. Check out on our RUBY Instagram. Our pre-orders are an ever-growing development, and as we move into new collections, more items will be available for pre-order!

Supplier improvement:

We have continued to work with our suppliers to implement improvements for their teams, from Health and Safety improvements, such as ensuring a clean, safe working environment for all, right through to ensuring that what the employee takes home is a fair and reasonable wage for their role and skillset.

Homeworker policy:

60% of our garments are produced in NZ, and an important component of the manufacturing industry here are machinists who work at home. This has benefits for both the machinist and the factory, as there is flexibility of working hours and the ability to work from home. However it also poses a number of risks. We are aware of these risks, and the development and implementation of our home worker policy acknowledges these risks, RUBY’s stand on them, and how we look to best mitigate them i.e. ensuring fair pay.

Monthly reporting:

At our monthly Advisory Board meetings, sustainability has taken a front seat, and is something we are always looking for ways in which to improve. We set these goals, and then propose our new initiatives, where we can discuss and evaluate if these initiatives will help us in moving towards more sustainable production.

Sustainable sourcing, and production team restructure:

As sustainability becomes of ever-growing importance to us here at RUBY, we have restructured our Production team at Head Office, to implement a new role of “Product Development & Sustainability Manager”. This allows us to have a staff member that has sustainability in the forefront of their mind for all of our undertakings and is able to advise our production team when making decisions regarding product development. In addition, we work directly with Vanessa from Unravelled Consultants, who assists us with our seasonal collections, researching new fibres that may be appropriate for the garments we are looking to produce. Her wealth of knowledge and experience in this area is of extreme benefit to our Production team in sustainable fabric decision making.

Reflections from Em:

I think about this goal as being similar to brushing your teeth, or fixing the broken window in your bedroom. But if you were the size of those characters in Honey I Shrunk The Kids and you had to brush the teeth and fix the window of your standard human self.

To Do From Here:

Here are our goals for 2022:

  • Develop fabric classification system for better communication to customers (to be on garments from late 2021)
  • Get all store suppliers (window washers, sign installers etc) to sign MFNZ Code of Conduct by July 2022.
  • Environmental reporting (including water)
  • Living wage projects with external suppliers
  • Set baseline targets for fabric and factory grades that are acceptable to be used in products
  • What does “audit safely” mean?

Goal 5: We All Belong Here

Not part of our stated goals from last year, but we introduced this as a formal goal towards the end of 2020 and I think it’s important to publicly acknowledge the work our team have done on this, and talk through what we are going to do in the next 12 months.

We recognise that we are part of a society that does not treat all people equally. We are committed to dismantling the conscious and unconscious biases within our company in order to provide a workplace where all of our team members are treated fairly, are free from harassment, are heard and can bring their whole selves to work. In addition to this it is our intention that this will mean that as a team we then contribute to a more equitable society in general.

You may have noticed some of the public-facing work we have done in this area. Like all of our goals, this is an ongoing project and one that we can always improve on.

Done:

Open casting:

In March 2021, we held our very first open casting for our winter collection, Champ. This open casting was a step in the right direction in terms of creating the change RUBY wants to see in the world. Using this method rather than sourcing from agencies allowed us to celebrate humanity and focus on more inclusive beauty ideals. You can check out the Champ lookbook here, including Jessica (she/her), Grace (she/her), Joshiua (she/they) and Siadin (she/her) or have a look at our open casting directory here to see all the amazing Rubettes who came.

Te reo lessons for team members:

This year we offered free Te reo Maori lessons for our staff members who were interested in not only learning another language, but one central to the culture of Aotearoa.

The Best is Yet to Come:

With the current change we are experiencing in our world, we believe it’s important to recognise the gravity of the situation but also equally as important to recognise the possibilities as we reshape our futures. With The Best is Yet to Come, we utilise our online platforms to amplify people who are experts in areas that we know to be important. Hearing from them about their experiences right now, and their vision for what the future could be.

Creating an equitable environment for our team:

In order to establish an equitable and safe environment for all our team members, we revised multiple policies and systems within our company to remove conscious and unconscious bias. Including a wages matrix for in store staff to ensure they are paid fairly for their work done, employing and supporting staff with learning disabilities and well as a complete revision of our hiring and communications policy to ensure equal opportunity. Furthermore, we have created an anonymous feedback form for our staff accompanied by regular surveys to develop an open channel between team members and senior management.

Custom sizing:

For the standard sizes we don’t offer off the rack within our RUBY and Liam collections (which we are increasing with our new Liam collection! Watch this space) we offer custom size orders. This system is designed to make our range inclusive; everyone should be able to wear the clothes they love!

Garment fitting consultations:

When we started increasing our size range in both our RUBY and Liam collections, we wanted to make sure we got everything right. To do this, it was essential for us to work with a lot of different people – mostly sized 14-24 – so we could be certain the fit of our products were true to size.

Monthly board reporting:

In our monthly Advisory Board, we report on the representation and equity currently occurring within the company. This includes initiatives that we are looking to implement, allowing for a consolation process to occur prior to implementation.

PolyEmp:

Within our head office, we employ staff from PolyEmp, an organisation focused on helping those with disabilities find employment. This is an ongoing relationship, and a great way to be able to teach vital skills to those looking to go into the employment market.

Custom amendments:

We offer free, custom alterations to those with access needs, to allow them to be able to wear their favourite RUBY pieces with ease! For those living in a wheelchair or requiring custom alterations to their clothing due to a disability, this can be the difference in being able to wear the piece or not, and we want to ensure all Rubettes can look and feel their best in our garments.

Team training sessions:

Amongst our Retail and Head Office teams we are constantly trying to upskill and improve the knowledge and understanding of our staff. This includes running diversity workshops and having speakers in to discuss the importance of language in relation to sizing and how shopping should be about how you feel in a piece, not how you look!

To Do From Here:

Here are our goals for 2022:

  • Investigate how we can contribute to programs developed by our TBIYTC contributors, and how they can collaborate with us to improve our team’s understanding of the world around them
  • External auditing of senior management team to ensure intention is translated into team and community experience
  • Engage with the attendees of our open casting call to collaborate on projects that are important to them
  • Develop checking system to ensure hiring and communications policy is being followed
  • Liam Patterns collection standard size band 4-24
  • Increase standard size band for ready to wear clothing ranges to at least 4-20
  • Increase talent pools for hiring

In summary…

Okay! Those are the key points on new work from the previous 12 months. Below is a bit of a summary of other pieces of work we have done in the past that are still ongoing.

My last note is to say that as the GM I report on this monthly at our Advisory Board meetings. I wanted to get that point in there but couldn’t quite work out how to casually slip it in so here it is, out on its own, having a great time feeling the wind in its hair.

Any questions, suggestions, comments please, I would LOVE to hear from you! emily@rubynz.com

xx

Em

RUBY General Manager

And the Rest

Okay, brace yourself for a heavy scroll. What follows is a lot of information. We ummed and ahhed about whether sharing it all was the right thing to do. In the end we decided the more information that is out there, the stronger we are as a community.

I am grateful to our Community Managers, Olivia and Flo, for whipping around the company, understanding what all of the people in our team have been working on from a Toolbox perspective, and distilling it for you in And the Rest.

Something in the below might spark ideas for you in your business, school or home (and we are happy to share more information with you about any of the below if you think it will be helpful).

You might also have suggestions for us about ways we can add on to what we are doing.

Either way, if you read something below and want to get in touch, please email Olivia olivia@rubynz.com

Em

Mindful Fashion New Zealand

RUBY is excited to be a founding partner of New Zealand industry collective, Mindful Fashion New Zealand. The collective was dreamt up in October 2018 and launched in March 2019 to unite the New Zealand clothing and textile industry to create an innovative, full-circle and thriving future. There are currently 59 members of Mindful Fashion New Zealand, and this is only growing.

Mindful Fashion is a New Zealand industry collective that aims to strengthen the local clothing and textile industry by promoting long term sustainable growth through responsible business practice and industry investment.

We exist because we believe in a future for the New Zealand clothing and textile industry that is inclusive, sustainable and successful.

Membership is open to all members of New Zealand’s clothing and textile community whose values and actions align with the Mindful Fashion mission. We support all industry participants from designers, fabric suppliers, makers, cutters, button-holers, pleaters, embroiderers and more.

We recognise that by working together the industry can pool talent and utilise collective resource to ensure the fastest pathway to successful sustainability outcomes that benefit the wider community.

We need to collaborate, share the burden of challenges, and embrace the opportunities in innovation and sustainability for our industry to thrive.

As Mindful Fashion we are incomparably stronger as a united and collective voice to articulate our sustainability vision for the New Zealand Fashion industry and create positive change.

Since launching in 2019, MFNZ has successfully done the following:

  • Created the Mindful Fashion New Zealand Code Of Conduct that all members must sign
  • Run local production workshops for designers
  • Run workshop sessions for local CMTs
  • Held two meetings with 18 manufacturing businesses across NZ during Covid-19 to inform MFNZ next steps.
  • Surveyed members and wider industry to ascertain needs to inform our work.
  • Launched basic digital directory of CMTs & suppliers
  • Engaged with international organisations to inform approach
  • Appointed Board members
  • Received Incorporated Society status
  • Advocated for the industry to the government and its agencies

Production

We are constantly reviewing our production processes, from the fibres and materials we use, to where we produce & who we work with

Fabrics

We’re committed to building a more responsible production cycle, which includes the materials we use in seasonal collections. This can sometimes be a challenge due to the fact that we often source stock fabric from local supply agents, making traceability tricky.

Our design team are dedicated to sourcing synthetic fibers from recycled sources, and will include certificate details on individual product pages, in an effort to divert more plastic bottles from landfill. Triacetate & Acetate, two of our favourite fabrics (and yours!) to use in collections, have now both been 100% traced back to a responsible source, and in light of this RUBY has ordered 6400 metres of these fabrics for use in collections between August 2019 and July 2020. The fabric is used to make pieces like our Firebird Pant, Weirder Slip and Nirvana Skirt.

We set out to ensure 70% of the silk fabric we use in our collections can be traced back to source by February 2020 and we have exceeded this goal! 95% of the silk we use can now be traced back to source.

We are also currently working towards ensuring 100% of the linen we use in our collections can be traced back to a responsible source. Currently, 90% of the new linen we purchase can be traced back to source, an increase from 30% last year.

We are continuing to use more fabrics made from sustainable fibres in our collections such as organic cotton, linen & hemp and cupro; recycled cotton, polyester and nylon; specialty materials like ECONYL®, Lenzing TENCEL, LENZING™ ECOVERO™ and Monocel. Currently, 65% of our upcoming collections are made from fabrics using sustainable fibres, an increase of over 50% from this last year!

We have switched our fusing, which is inside of some garments, sourcing sustainable synethic fibres which are a more sustainable option.

Locally, fabric offcuts are donated to schools & universities or used as part of our apprenticeship programme to repurpose unused fabric. We also work with We Compost to compost our unusable sampling offcuts which are made from 100% natural fibres. The breakdown of these offcuts has a 2-3 month timeframe alongside our food and green waste.

Furthermore, we supply all our stores with off-cuts which customers can take for free with any purchase, supplementary to the pattern on our wrapping paper.

We do not permit the use of angora fur in any circumstance, due to the cruel way that it’s obtained from the angora rabbit. Read more here..

Factories

It’s RUBY’s responsibility to know that everyone who works on a RUBY product, does so in a safe, fair and non-discriminatory workplace. We provide this for our employees and we also require this of our suppliers.

Our business plays an important role in ensuring the men and women who work on our garments are treated fairly and carry out their role in respectful working conditions. RUBY employees must ensure that all new suppliers sign the Mindful Fashion New Zealand Code Of Conduct that covers the following:

  • Child labour shall not be used. RUBY does not accept the economic exploitation of children
  • Employment is freely chosen and not forced
  • No discrimination is practiced
  • No harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed
  • Working conditions are safe & hygienic
  • Working hours are not excessive
  • Wages are paid on time & in full
  • Regular employment is provided
  • Safe disposal of water and dyes

Currently, 50% of all RUBY’s CMT (Cut-Make-Trim) work is completed in Auckland, New Zealand. The remaining 50% is completed in China.

While we love and will continue to support local makers, producing on home turf comes with a unique set of challenges. One is the degree of difficulty in auditing small, local makers. This is where our partnership with Mindful Fashion New Zealand steps in.

Details of the factories that we work with are as follows:

CountryChinaChinaChinaChinaChinaChinaChinaChinaChinaNZNZNZNZNZNZNZNZNZNZNZNZNZ
Years worked together5222631165131349441322.51313713
Number of staff3723036711562091011108518616282333
% of women69%97%90%49%50%25%75%86%67%73%90%88%60%83%50%94%100%100%50%67%0%67%
Youngest team member16162121402545203535403240354535482365454031
Area of expertiseWOVEN, KNIT, COATS, DENIMWOVEN, JERSEY CUT & SEWDENIM & WOVEN STYLESWOVEN, KNITKNITWEARKNITWEARKNITWEARCOATS, SUITING, DENIMWOVEN, COATSMAKE- WOVENMAKE- WOVEN PANTSMAKE- DRESSY WOVENSMAKE- KNITMAKE- WOVENSMAKE- WOVEN & KNITMAKE- WOVEN & KNITMAKE- WOVEN & KNITMAKE- WOVEN & KNITGRADINGCUTTINGCUTTINGPLEATING/ CRUSHING
  • Mirella
  • Watermelon Sweater
  • Corvette Pant
  • Liam Weirder Slip
  • Firebird Pant

In-house Craftsmanship

Our design process is completed in house at our RUBY head office in Auckland, where we employ a patternmaker and sample machinist. This allows for flexibility and the ability to produce all collection samples on home turf.

Sea Freight

How our fabrics and clothes arrive in New Zealand is important to us. We’re making steps to prioritise sea freight over air, as a more sustainable transport option. Currently, RUBY sea freights 40% of the time, however our goal is to achieve a 70% sea freight rate.

RUBY Academy Apprenticeship Workshops

It has been widely discussed the need to increase local manufacturing in a post-COVID world, and how businesses will need to look at ways we can add value in New Zealand. As a brand that manufactures most of our collections in New Zealand, we are SO on board with this! We know that we can play a part in the rebuild, and this is our first step. Through the running of our RUBY Academy Apprenticeship Workshops, on skills such as sewing machinist & patternmaker, we have been provided with an oppourtunity to share and educate others on skills that which we have a expertise in. These workshops have been incredibly successful, and we are looking to hold more in the future.

Packaging

As part of our pledge to a more sustainable RUBY, we’ve turned the spotlight on packaging. There’s an environmental cost to everything that’s accepted into our supply chain, from the smallest care label to wrapping paper and garment bags.

All existing packaging has been scrutinised and better alternatives sourced where possible. Ultimately, we believe that the packaging our customers can reuse many times over is superior to recycling after one use. When we favour packaging that is durable and has prolonged use, we help to lessen the impact of producing the item in the first place.

While home compostable packaging is the best alternative to replace many items that are traditionally made from plastic, in some cases the packaging item we require isn’t commercially viable on a mass scale. When this is the case, we search for the next best option and continue to watch for innovations in the space.

These alternatives are helping RUBY tread more lightly on the planet.

Sustainable Clothing Care

Want a wardrobe that’s kind to the planet and lasts the long haul?

One of the best ways to act more sustainably, also happens to be one of the easiest things to do. It’s simple - take care of your clothes.

When we take care of our clothes, we extend their lifespan. Longer active wear time keeps textiles out of landfills and reduces a garment’s overall carbon, waste and water footprint. Even nine extra months of active use can reduce a piece of clothing’s environmental impact by 20-30%.

Below are best practice care tips to help you look after your RUBY clothes. Check the label on a garment to see what it’s made of, then follow our tips in the table.

RUBY Loves Guppyfriend

We recommend that any clothing containing a synthetic textile, such as polyester, should be popped inside a Guppyfriend bag to reduce microplastic shedding. Wondering what a Guppyfriend is? Never heard of microplastic shedding?

A Guppyfriend is a smart, affordable solution to fighting the hidden pollution of microplastics that shed from synthetic textiles during the wash process. Essentially a fancy delicates bag, the Guppyfriend is designed to catch tiny plastic fibres that break off in the wash, and prevent them from entering our oceans and water systems. The washing bag not only reliably retains microfibers, but also protects the clothes: compared to washing without the Guppyfriend, 86% fewer fibers shed from synthetic textiles.

We see the bag as a great interim solution until washing machine technology catches up with in built filters.

You can purchase one online here, or at any RUBY store nationwide.

What Does ‘Natural Regenerated’ Mean?

It means the raw material that forms the fibre of the textile, like viscose or rayon for instance, is natural (from a wood or plant fibre, sometimes a waste product of another production process). It has gone through a manufacturing process where the fibres are treated with chemicals, filtered and spun into thread. A regenerated cellulose fiber has a smooth and lustrous appearance like silk, combined with the water absorption ability of cotton. It’s usually soft, highly drapable and often used to make blouses, shirts or suit linings.

Top Care Tips:

  • When washing clothing that contains more than one textile - for example a shirt made from 60% cotton, 40% silk - follow the care instructions for the most delicate fibre listed.

  • Wash less. Some clothing benefits more from being aired out, such as cashmere or wool sweaters, rather than subjected to frequent washing. And less washing means less water use and electricity. Who doesn’t love doing less laundry!

  • Wash cold. Water in combination with heat weakens textiles, especially anything synthetic. In most cases, 30 degrees Celsius is sufficient for washing your clothes.

  • Wash soft items with soft items. Separating clothes with hard and soft surfaces reduces friction, which in turn reduces fibre breakage. The same applies for overfilling the machine. A jammed wash cycle means more friction between your beloved clothes.

  • Many delicate items that are labelled ‘dry clean only’ can be washed on a low temperature wash cycle at home using gentle detergent. Or, hand wash and lay out to dry flat on a towel. We recommend patch testing before trying either of these alternatives (for example the back hem of a dress, or the underarm of a sleeve to check to see what happens when you handwash) as some garments can shrink or lose lustre. Less dry cleaning = less toxic chemicals and plastic garment wraps!

  • When washing clothing with zips, please ensure the zip is fully closed as it can weaken when it gets tangled with other garments.

RUBY Repair

Throughout the year we host repair events at our Newmarket store in Auckland, and promote them via social media. Bring in your RUBY clothes (from any season, no matter how old), and our in-house machinist will be ready to mend and/or hem your favourite pieces while you shop.

FibreCottonGlobal Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) CottonWoolLinenSilkEuropean Flax ®Viscose/RayonCuproLyocellLenzing Tencel ™ModalAcetate & TriacetatePolyesterRecycled PolyesterElastaneAcrylicNylonEconyl ®
Generic/BrandedGenericBrandedGenericGenericGenericBrandedGenericGenericGenericBrandedGenericGenericGenericBrandedGenericGenericGenericBranded
Natural/SyntheticNaturalNaturalNaturalNaturalNaturalNaturalNatural RegeneratedNatural RegeneratedNatural RegeneratedNatural RegeneratedNatural RegeneratedNatural RegeneratedSyntheticSynthetic RegeneratedSyntheticSyntheticSyntheticSynthetic Regenerated
What am I made of?Fluffy cluster (boll) from a cotton plant.Fluffy cluster (boll) from a cotton plant - certified by gots. Grown without the use of pesticides.Sheep fleece. Spun into yarn & knitted into a garment or woven to create fabric.Woody stems of flax. The flax is retted, dried, cured and spun into a fine yarn.Spun from the threads of a silkworm cocoon.Composed of 100% European Flax ® flax fibre (out of total flax content) and of final composition 100% flax linen. Uses zero GMO seeds, zero irrigation & zero waste. OEKO-TEX® certified.Derived from pine or eucalyptus wood pulp which is treated with caustic soda & carbon disulphide. Developed as an alternative to silk.A waste product from cotton. Undergoes a chemical process to be spun into a workable fibre. A closed-loop process.Derived from wood pulp or bamboo. Produced through a closed loop process to minimise toxic waste. Lyocel requires less energy and water to produce than cotton. Wood pulp from sustainable forestry. Pulp goes through a solvent-spinning process, the water is recycled & solvent reused, ensuring a closed-loop process.Made from beech tree pulp, the process involves spinning reconstituted cellulose. The fiber is manufactured through a chemical process, filtered and spun into a fine thread.Cellulose extracted from wood pulp. Reacts with acetic acid to produce acetate flakes. Flakes are dissolved into a solvent & pass through a spinneret to form a fibre.A type of plastic. Derived from petroleum.Repurposed polyethylene terephthalate (PET) - the same material as clear plastic bottles. Repurposed materials are sterilised, dried and turned into small chips. The chips are passed through a spinneret to form yarn. Ruby uses recycled polyester that meets global recycled standard (GRS)Derived from petroleum. Blended with other fibres to add stretch and retention.Derived from petroleum. Chemically processed (polymerisation) & spun through spinnerets to form an acrylic fibre.Nylon is the world's first totally synthetic textile. Derived from carbon chemicals which are heated and spun into fibre. Made from rescued synthetic waste. Fabric, industrial waste and fishing nets are reclaimed then cleaned, regenerated and processed into textile yarn or carpet.
Care tipsCold, gentle machine wash (unless label lists handwash). Avoid tumble drying to prevent shrinkage.
*Denim - cold machine wash inside out, air dry. Be careful when storing - exposure to sunlight can cause the fibre to degrade.
Cold, gentle machine wash (unless label lists handwash). Avoid tumble dry to prevent shrinkage.
*Denim - cold machine wash inside out, air dry. Be careful when storing - exposure to sunlight can cause the fibre to degrade.
Knitwear - handwash in cold water, lie flat to dry. If washed in warm water, wool can shrink significantly. Do not wring or tumble dry. Wool has a natural tendency to pill, so please use a RUBY wool comb. Some knitwear may be labelled dry clean only as washing can cause friction on the fibre. See care video here.
Coats - dry clean only.
Cold gentle machine wash (unless stated to handwash). When ironing, use medium heat and steam - linen has a tendency to wrinkle. Be careful when storing, exposure to sunlight can cause the fibre to degrade.Dry clean only or spot clean. You can cold handwash silk - be aware that doing so can weaken the fibre, cause shrinkage of up to 5% and loss of lustre.Machine wash in cold water. Do not soak, bleach or wring. Do not tumble dry.Cold, gentle machine wash unless labelled dry clean only. Viscose/rayon stretches and shrinks (3 - 8%) with wear and wash. After washing and drying, iron to press the garment back out to its original size.Cold machine wash, do not tumble dry. Line dry. Be careful handling when wet. If label states dry clean only, you can cold handwash but be aware of 3 - 8% shrinkage.Cold, gentle machine wash, or handwash in cold water, warm iron. Be careful handling when wet, as the fibre is at its weakest. If label states dry clean only, you can cold handwash but be aware of 3 - 8% shrinkage.Cold gentle machine wash, or handwash in cold water, warm iron. Be careful when handling when wet. If label states dry clean only, you can cold handwash but be aware of 3 - 8% shrinkage.Cold gentle machine wash (unless stated to handwash), do not tumble dry as it will shrink. Be careful when storing, as exposure to sunlight can cause the fiber to degrade.Cold Hand-wash or cold gentle machine wash. Press with a low heat. Acetate & triacetate can be damaged by twisting, wringing or with high heat.Machine wash with a guppyfriend in cold water, do not tumble dry.Machine wash with a guppyfriend in cold water, do not tumble dry.Machine wash with a guppyfriend in cold water, do not tumble dry.Machine wash with a guppyfriend in cold water, lay flat to dry, iron on low.Machine wash with a guppyfriend in cold water, do not tumble dry, do not bleach.Machine wash with a guppyfriend in cool water, do not tumble dry.
Fibre PropertiesNatural, breathable, soft, versatileNatural, breathable, soft, versatileWarm, breathable, natural insulatorSoft, absorbent, breathable, hypo-allergenicSoft, smooth, breathable, lightweightSoft, absorbent, breathable, hypo-allergenicDrapes well, smooth, lightweight, breathable, versatile, highly absorbentBeautiful sheen, biodegradable, silky smooth, drapes wellSoft, durable, breathable like linenSoft, durable, breathable like linenSoft, stretchy, breathable, durable, pill-resistant, colour fast, doesn't crease, biodegradableDries quickly, resistant to stains, feels naturalDoesn't crease easily (great for travel!), durable, alternative to silk, easy careLightweight, hardwearing, doesn't crease easily, easy to care forStretchy, comfortable to wear, has great retentionLooks like wool, lightweight and warmExtremely tough. Wrinkle and water resistant, fast dryingStretchy, comfortable to wear

Our Customers

We’re proud to have a growing number of initiatives for customers to make the most of when they shop with RUBY, from care initiatives to encouraging accessibility for all. Please spread the word, and encourage your friends and family to buy better, love clothes for longer and upcycle where possible.

All Is For All

All is For All is a communications agency which acknowledges the challenges people with disabilities can face when purchasing clothes online. Founder Grace Stratton, a law student, fashion lover and lifelong wheelchair user, launched the platform when she felt like the world of online shopping was not set up for people like her who have access needs.

“ Accessibility is not just a physical thing – it’s about everyone having the same access to the same experience, and that includes online shopping, in store shopping, model representation and equity of being seen heard and understood. We have loved working with RUBY as they seek to include the experiences of every shopper, whether that be working to establish their adaption programme, photographing their items on our models or having conversations with their staff. They have been wonderful partners, who we look forward to working with more.” - Grace Stratton” - Grace Stratton

Alongside showcasing curations of accessible items from local and international designers, All is For All has broadened their focus, using fashion as one of many tools to achieve accessible outcomes at scale, because their core belief is still that fashion gives agency and builds confidence. RUBY consults and engages with All is For All to ensure that we are doing all that we can to make our garments and products accessible for all.

RUBY is proud to be a founding partner of this movement, with All is For All providing training for our team and advice on our custom sizing service. Custom alterations are available free of charge to any RUBY garment for anyone with access needs.

Custom Sizing

RUBY offers custom sizing in all in stock styles for both RUBY and Liam, should you be after a size which is outside the sizes we currently produce.

You will only pay the standard retail price, and there are no extra fees for this service. We can make a completely new size in a style you love, or are happy to alter something off the rack to accommodate different access needs.

Everyone should be able to wear the clothes they love. Womanhood is brilliantly diverse and our clothing options should reflect this! Please ask in store about this service or email us at online@rubynz.com.

RUBY Rental

Since October 2017, RUBY has partnered with one-stop rental destination Designer Wardrobe. By using a great rental service, you can have an endlessly new wardrobe and keep clothing budgets to a minimum, all while embracing circularity and diverting clothing from landfill.

Favourite RUBY styles are always available for short term rental. After your event, pop the item in a Designer Wardrobe return bag and send it back. It’s that easy.

In 2020, we have expanded this partnership to include rental only pieces in our mainline collections that are exclusively available through Designer Wardrobe.

On a business front, Designer Wardrobe allows us the opportunity to extend the life cycle of a RUBY garment, reducing waste, water and carbon footprints. One small step towards a culture where we use products, rather than own them.

In the Community

As a New Zealand owned and operated business, we work and play in a wider community, and love to support charitable projects where we can. Here are some of the projects RUBY is proud to be a part of:

  • Breast Cancer Cure

    RUBY is a long-time partner of Breast Cancer Cure. We support their fashion shows by lending 100 hours of our time per year to help out.

  • Community Service

    As a business, it’s important that we are available in the community to help out wherever we can have an impact. If there’s a fundraiser or project you’d like to chat to us about, please email olivia@rubynz.com

  • Women’s Refuge

    All proceeds from Christmas gift wrapping in store are donated to Women’s Refuge, and staff also collect gifts for those in need. Between January 2018 and June 2019, $5647 has been donated to this incredible New Zealand charity. We also organise collections throughout the year such as our sample sale can collection and Christmas gifts which are then donated to Women’s Refuge.

  • Mental Health Foundation

    The proceeds from any carry bag, market bag or year round gift wrapping sale are donated to the Mental Health Foundation New Zealand. MHFNZ take a holistic approach to mental health, and the donations go towards supporting the free information and training they provide as well as advocating for policies and services that support people with experience of mental illness. As of June 2021, we have donated $5932.32.

  • RUBY x CanTeen

    In support of Bandana Day 2021, RUBY collaborated with CanTeen to create a limited edition bandana to raise funds for the organisation. CanTeen relies solely on the generosity of the community to provide vital services like counselling, online support, events and camps for rangatahi living with cancer. As of May 2021, $5418 has been donated to this organization.

  • Paid Community Days

    It’s a pretty great feeling when you can have a positive impact all on your own. So, we offer one paid day off per quarter for every full-time head office staff member.

  • Bees Up Top

    The RUBY Head Office balcony is home to a hive of rescued bees saved by Jessie and Luke from Bees Up Top. Urban areas are a perfect place for hives because they’re safe from agricultural pesticides that are used on commercial farms. Bees are the world’s most important pollinator, responsible for a third of the world’s food. We believe that honey bees need our help now more than ever and we love having our Rubee’s on the deck.

  • School Involvement

    Just as we know the value in upskilling our team, we value the upskilling of the future generations also. We have held sewing training at St Cuthbert’s, allowing us to share the experienced skillset of our head office to budding sewers. Additionally, our General Manager, Emily, has done a talk at Green Bay High School about the clothing industry, looking for work within the industry and more, to help educate and inspire the future generation!

Our Team

Team work makes the dream work, right? Our employees are ambitious forward-thinkers, so we like to support them in being the best they can be. Here’s how we do it:

RUBY Academy

We fully believe that learning is lifelong, and training is a huge focus for our team. We run two all staff training seminars a year, and these provide the foundation for additional training for the six months that follow. Personal growth, acquisition of specific skills, interpersonal development are key focuses.

Te Reo Māori

We know that we can be part of the reinvigoration of te reo Māori in Aotearoa, and we know that by doing this we can contribute to eradicating racism. Part of our work in this area is to offer te reo lessons. This year the team from RUBY HQ participated in weekly lessons led by our kaiako Heidi Brickell.

Financial Literacy Training

Our HQ team is treated (yes, we just said that) to quarterly financial literacy workshops and seminars. The benefits are twofold: our staff better understand RUBY’s movements while they develop an understanding of important financial concepts that are essential for success in life, regardless if you own a business, or not.

Yoga

Head office team members can downward dog their way into the day one evening each week. This practice has become super popular and sets us up in all the best ways.

Paid Retail Internships

It can be tricky to gain paid experience in the workforce when you’re fresh out of, or still in high school. RUBY offers school age young adults paid retail internships of 12-15 hours over two weeks. Offered four times per year over school holiday periods, and no real work experience is necessary, our store managers will be there to help. Please email workwithus@rubynz.com for more information about the next start date.

Paid Workroom Internships

RUBY offers paid workroom internships for high school and university students wanting to advance their education and experience in the fashion industry. This is a good opportunity to gain production experience before going out into the workforce. Please email workwithus@rubynz.com with information about yourself such as experience, place of study, preferred dates and hours. We will do our best to accommodate you.

Living Wage

RUBY staff members are now all paid at minimum the New Zealand living wage, in an effort to work towards becoming a certified living wage company. This task poses many challenges through that of our subcontractors, so where else is best to start than right at home! This ensures the entirety of our RUBY family is supported by a wage which is deemed appropriate to maintain a normal standard of living.

Employment Diversity Policy

We work hard to create a space where our team feels safe and empowered to connect and do great work. Differences in race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical abilities, and religious beliefs are welcomed and accepted on the basis that every individual is unique and powerful in their own right. It’s important that RUBY remains a positive environment for every employee - we actively work to ensure that staff are protected against discrimination of any kind. When our team feels safe, accepted and therefore able to do their best work, RUBY is better off for it.

RUBY is committed to hiring people who are representative of the communities we belong to. Crucial to understanding this is the below: Every individual person is a unique constellation of many different groups - some chosen, some circumstantial, and some inherited. Due the realities of an inequitable of society, people who belong to some groups face more discrimination than their peers. Even when well-intentioned, we are all have unconscious biases that can exacerbate discrimination.

Duvet Day

Introduced in September of 2020, all full time RUBY Employees are entitled to one Duvet Day a year. For use on a day where you wake up and just need some "me time", to spend the day, cuddled up under your duvet.

Benestar

Introduced in early 2021, Benestar is an external service available to our team, at any time, from anywhere. Benestar offers a range of support, including in person counselling, online counselling services, and a hub with a plethora of resources and articles, to assist in whatever you may be going through. This is a confidential service that our team has private log-ins to access.

Book Club

As you may be aware, here at RUBY we LOVE a good book, and have started making our favourites available to our customers directly through our stores and website. We additionally have a library of books available to our team, with all topics including educational, located in our Head Office, which have been donated or purchased by our staff, and are available on loan. Also, what better way to know about the book you are selling, then when you’ve had the opportunity to read it yourself!

Social Club

We run a very exciting and community focused Social Club at RUBY Head Office. From having a weekly Friday night get togethers to debrief and unwind after a busy week, to compiling a list of our Rubettes favourite recipes to share with the team! These events and initiatives allow us to grow together as a team and add a social aspect to our working environment.

Inside HQ

To manage our daily environmental impact, RUBY continues to adopt lots of small policies in and around the office. The list is ever growing. If you have a suggestion, please let us know!

Compost Collection

Our RUBY HQ & stores' food scraps (and of course our RUBY courier bags!) are collected weekly by We Compost and we're chuffed to say we've sent over 2000 litres of scraps for composting between October 2018 and August 2021. Instead of ending up in the bin as unnecessary waste, scraps find higher value and become nutritious compost to be used in community and school gardens across Auckland.

Recycling

All soft plastics are reused both at head office and in our stores. Anything that can’t be reused, our RUBY head office and store teams do weekly drop offs to our local soft plastics collection points thanks to the Love NZ Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme. Our RUBY stores that don’t have access to a collection point send their soft plastics back to our head office to be dropped off!

Office Supplies

It’s no secret that the average business uses a lot of stuff. We do however try to keep our footprint to a minimum and are always looking to improve. Ecostore products are ordered in bulk size for cleaning for HQ & our stores, office coffee is delivered from our friends down the road at OZONE Coffee, and we use Lewis Road organic milk. Toilet paper, hand towels, rubbish bags, and all products where possible are made from recycled materials. We purchase only recycled paper for our printer and are always making efforts to avoid printing where possible to avoid paper waste.

Car Fleet

We are currently in the middle of transitioning our car fleet from petrol vehicles. In December 2019 our General Manager Emily has switched to a hybrid vehicle, with our Creative Director Deanna following suit in 2020. We intend to switch our entire vehicle fleet to hybrid or electric models in the coming years as leases expire.

The Future is Bright

Our door is always open and we are looking forward to the changes we can add to this every growing list in the next year.

2022

If you have any questions about RUBY’s sustainability strategy and goals for the future, or would like to talk further on the topic, please get in touch with our General Manager Emily Miller-Sharma. Email: emily@rubynz.com