There are certain brands that intrinsically strive to be more than a typical clothing company. Doing good and giving back is but one focus that menswear and women’s fashion brands have taken on in recent years — this focus can be rare in a retail environment that values fast fashion. It’s clear from the get-go when speaking with United By Blue cofounder Brian Linton that his brand strives to be different.
“United By Blue started after I was running a brand that donated a portion of its proceeds to ocean conservation. It lacked impact because I was unable to measure the environmental goodness of what the money achieved,” Linton said via email recently. “United By Blue was a way to get our hands dirty.”
And the company’s employees buy into this ethos wholeheartedly — for every product sold, UBB cleans up one pound of trash from oceans and waterways. That means they’ve cleaned up 250,000 pounds of trash and counting since the company launched.
The brand sells a unique blend of rugged and outdoors-y menswear, from chore coats to soft pocket T-shirts, and also stocks chic women’s items and a well-curated selection of home goods. It’s items like these that resonate with consumers — and help the company achieve its goals.
“Certainly, it’s been a difficult but fun journey,” Linton said. “Merging (clothing & the environment) works because we consider ourselves an outdoor brand. And being in the outdoor industry, our customers love and care about the outdoors.”
Linton said that retail partners often partner with the brand on clean-ups in surrounding areas, and the company has also worked with the likes of Subaru to better the environment.
The brand also has the unique advantage of a nice regional following — it’s big in the Northeast, with a lovely flagship store and coffee shop in Philadelphia, plus other locations sprinkled throughout the city and a New Jersey location.
“Although we have some solid distribution along the West Coast, this is an area that is a reflection of our brand vision and a place we would love to grow,” Linton said. The brand is currently sold at nearly two dozen locations in California up and down the coast.
It’s likely the brand’s expansion could also introduce new product offerings — UBB recently launched a new line of boardshorts, and has plans to add more home goods and women’s dresses later this year.
Editor’s note: To read a full question-and-answer piece with the founder of United By Blue, and for more #menswear content in general, head to The Style Guide.