Interview with Jason Kibbey of PACT Underwear

Cal Connection: PACT was started by two Haas MBA's and is based out of Berkeley.

Surely you have noticed how superheroes are always flying around, saving the world in their underwear. So you better go buy a cape because now you can be a superhero too - only much more fashionable. PACT’s motto: “change starts with your underwear,” and that change is just as personal as underwear itself for entrepreneur and visionary Jason Kibbey and the PACT team.

Jason Kibbey, who swears he wears PACT everyday, is the co-creator along with Jeff Denby and the celebrity designer Yves Behar. PACT is a new kind of underwear company. For Kibbey, it is all about “how it all comes together - this is what matters to the customers.” This organic cotton line is produced by fair trade labor in Turkey, all within a 100-mile radius-manufacturing loop. The colorful inks and dyes are environmentally friendly, as well as the reusable bags made from fabric scraps and compostable packaging the undies are delivered in.

Here are a few of examples of the types of underwear PACT has up for sale.

Don’t start thinking all these responsible actions mean boring because PACT is “all for a having a party in your pants” as the catch line for their essentials collection goes. These skivvies are simply, undeniably sexy from their design to their feel. That sexiness you feel is much more than comfort: it’s the difference you are making for people, for the environment, and for yourself. For every purchase, 10% goes to the cause of your choosing from the following: EarthSpark International, Citizen Effect, Creative Growth, Green Belt Movement, Forest Ethics, 826 National, Oceana, and Global Green USA. That is certainly a lot of change created by what is in your pants.

But why underwear? For Kibbey it is because “most fashion is sh*t the world doesn’t need. People need these, people will feel good about themselves and these last for a long time. If people want cheap products we are not the company for them. I will not make sh*t the world does not need.” PACT underwear is not the kind of consumer product used a few times and then thrown in a landfill. No, it is something everyone needs and everyone benefits from.

While UC Berkeley has always had strong ties to the open-minded attitudes of the 1960’s, one still must wonder how the business world of Haas reacted when Kibbey and Denby declared that they were attending one of the top business schools in the world to start an underwear company.

Kibbey (smiling): “Everyone laughed. Some people thought it was dumb, but it does cause a reaction. You feel something when you say you want to start a sustainable underwear company. If we just said we wanted to start another underwear company it would have been a snoozer.”

This is one of several of PACT's campaigns.

Which one of PACT’s causes is most important to you?
“I will never answer a question like that. I like it when I know I am making a difference in someone’s life and the environment.” Kibbey, who has always had a passion for fashion and the environment first started with the environmental impacts of food. However, “food has already been done. I thought clothing was interesting because it is a really complicated supply chain, and thus you can make a big difference.”

Describe an average day at work.
“I am the CEO which means I don’t really do anything in particular but a little of everything. I spend a lot of my time fundraising. I check in with all the pieces of the business. I try to be involved with everything and make sure I can help people in the company.”

Which one of the designs is your favorite?
“After every new design I always say to our whole team this is the best design. I feel like we have gotten better and better and am really excited about each new design.”

Where do you see your company and dreams going in the future?
“Today we have just started shipping to Nordstrom’s. We would like to be a large basics company that makes products that you would see students at Cal wearing everyday. From t-shirts, to underwear, to socks, maybe even denim made for people who care about making a difference and will see themselves as part of something different.”

Do you have any tips for those who are aspiring to work in the fashion industry?
“Anyone who thinks getting into fashion is easy should think again. Apparel is one of the hardest businesses around. But if you do want to make it your life’s work, it is a fun, rewarding experience. It’s dealing with factory delays and small detail complications.”

So when you are getting ready to be the hottest person at the next scandalous rager, skip that scrap of fabric pretending to be a mini skirt or the hipster TMI skinny jeans, and do some good with your bum: go pant-less, wear PACT.

One of PACT's designs. All images courtesy of PACT.

Francesca Rubino
BARE Reporter

2 comments:

  1. Why not consider adding biodegradable flip flops to go with your new PACT underwear?

    ReplyDelete
  2. @jane: That's an interesting thought...

    very insightful interview! :)

    ReplyDelete