The wordy motto of Berkeley-based clothing company PACT says it all: "You change your underwear, together we change the world." Calling itself a movement disguised as a clothing company, PACT sells men's and women's underwear (and now socks, T-shirts, and sweatshirts) that are not only made from organic material, but are also ethically sourced and stitched. And taking its crusade a step further, the company takes on a noble cause every season and then features so-called "changemakers" whose work it then supports – community-minded individuals or organizations from across the globe working to make things better. Despite the earnest soberness of the business model, PACT's product is what you'd want from the one item you keep closest to your body: Its undies are comfortable, durable, and playfully stylish.
The men's line includes crew or V-neck T-shirts and three styles of underwear (boxer briefs, briefs, or trunks) from three collections: the always available standard that comes in regulation blue, black, and grey; a shorter-term "pop" collection and then limited-edition seasonal print versions. For the latter, PACT creative director-founder Jeff Denby comes up with designs inspired by a cause the company is supporting. So, for instance, PACT's current push for sustainable food had it searching out changemakers from across the country. Not surprisingly, it found a bunch of young red-blooded (but green-minded) candidates in Austin. The resulting collection is, not surprisingly, called Stars & Stripes, and features blue patterns of hand-painted stars, as well as multi-colored stripes made of cityscape-like silhouettes. They're distinctive without feeling gimmicky or Joe Boxer cheesy.
PACT links up with nonprofits from across the country (and, in many cases, the globe), who benefit from a percentage of its sales for each related collection. So, for this season's project, PACT, along with the Sustainable Food Center, will support six weeks of cooking and education classes for low-income families. And instead of spending thousands of dollars on vacuous-seeming underwear models, PACT recruits some of its changemakers to drop trou and draw attention (Mason Arnold, of Austin's Greenllng.com organic delivery service, is pictured above, in a pair of Stars boxer briefs). "It's surprising how many of them are willing to do it," admits Denby.
"We were built on the idea that there are products we [all] have to consume, often made on mass-production levels," says Denby. "If we're going to consume it, then how can we make it better?" You might say that if you want to make a change for the better, you may as well start with your underwear. [From $20; wearPACT.com]