As a former fashion professional and chair of Brookdale Community College’s fashion design and merchandising department, Annmarie Hughes noticed a disturbing trend in her industry. The rise of “fast fashion” had created an exponential increase in the amount of clothing thrown away by Americans each year, topping 12 million tons in 2016 alone.
Fast fashion apparel – often made from inexpensive synthetic fibers – is also extremely slow to biodegrade and difficult to repurpose, leading inevitably to overflowing landfills, increased CO2 emissions and untold impacts on the environment.
In the face of this trend, Hughes and two acquaintances posed a simple question: What if a fashion company could actually help the environment, rather that hurt it? And, thus, Goofy Foot USA was born.
The company, launched by Hughes and partners Justin Bilik and David Schragger on July 4th, offers eye-catching, surf-themed apparel made from 100 percent recycled materials. A line of high-performance sport t-shirts, for example, is made entirely from recycled plastic bottles. Other offerings, including beanies and hooded sweatshirts, also utilize materials like recycled cotton.
“Goofy-foot is a term for people who ride differently from the majority, and we emulate that in our business practice,” said Hughes. “We wanted to do something good and help make the earth a better place for future generations. So we brought all of our work experiences and love for the Jersey shore together and formed Goofy Foot USA.”
Beyond cutting pollution and raising awareness, the company is also working to raise something a bit more tangible: money. One percent of all Goofy Foot USA sales are donated to “1% For The Planet,” a global network of businesses and nonprofits donating millions of dollars each year to environmental cleanup and similar causes.
Locally, the company is also forming partnerships with nonprofits, community groups and surfing clubs – including the Manasquan High School Surf Team – that share their passion for the environment. By next year Goofy Foot USA hopes to offer an expanded line of sustainable apparel and accessories, along with an expanded network of partners and supporters working toward the same goal.
“Pollution from disposable items like clothing and plastic water bottles is a global epidemic,” said Hughes. “As a surf company, we have the opportunity to bring awareness to ocean pollution by creating a product from it. There is a need for companies that do good and give back, and we want to help fill that need.”
In addition to launching Goofy Foot, Hughes is now working toward a certificate in Sustainable Design Entrepreneurship at the Fashion Institute of Technology while teaching courses at Brookdale in topics like fashion design, merchandising, and “global sourcing and sustainability.” She also oversees Brookdale’s fashion merchandising internship program, serving as a mentor to students who may one day follow in her “goofy” footsteps.
“I hope students see that any dream is possible,” she said. “This industry requires a lot of hard work and being open to new ideas. I hope I can be a good resource, mentor, and help them reach their own goals, whether it be opening their own business or obtaining their dream job one day.”
Learn more about Goofy Foot USA here.
To learn more about Brookdale’s fashion design and merchandising program, click here.