Jeff Denby is co-founder of PACT – a social movement disguised as an underwear company, serving conscious consumer with fun, sustainable goods that support the work of their non-profit partners.
“When we first launched the brand three years ago, the idea of organic apparel was pretty new and I had reactions like 'Organic underwear! Does that mean I can eat it?'”
Jeff Denby is “the underwear guy,” and he’s changing the world, one pair of undies at a time. PACT, an organic clothing line whose slogan reads, “You change your underwear, together we change the world,” partners with social entrepreneurs around the country to design seasonal collections for change.
Jeff will be the ﬁrst to admit that his idea to corner the organic underwear market wasn’t (surprisingly) the sexiest new venture to his fellow MBAs at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Despite the proclivity towards the tech industry among his classmates, the potential for innovation in the socks and underwear category was a challenge too good to turn down. Informed by a background in design and manufacturing, he and his co-founder began to build a following around the idea that underwear, in all its sweet simplicity, could change the world.
The model looks like this: Every season, PACT creates a unique, design-saavy collection (their ﬁrst collection was designed by Yves Behar) inspired by a social mission or non-proﬁt. The upcoming fall line, for example boasts Stars and Stripes for sustainable food education. The company then invests a portion of its revenue into a partnered social enterprise (in this case Austin’s Sustainable Food Center) and works to build awareness among customers.
And the socks, shirts, and skivvies themselves? Sustainability and environmental consciousness is built into the product and the business model. Every step of the manufacturing process was thoroughly considered, down to each organic ﬁber and the hand picking it. “There is a strong temptation to go with the status quo, especially when the reality is that trying to be more sustainable costs more. Sustainability is an uphill journey and in many cases we are taking our suppliers, retailers, and even employees down new paths. Holding steadfast to our values and having what we call “non-negotiables” is key to maintaining the original DNA of the PACT brand.”
Now, loyal customers swear by the PACT brand, in large thanks to brand sponsors: social entrepreneurs and changemakers around the country working to enact positive change in their communities. “When we ﬁrst launched the brand three years ago, the idea of organic apparel was pretty new and I had reactions like “Organic underwear!! Does that mean I can eat it!?”. We’ve come a long way and consumers are becoming really aware of the sustainability of the products they use every day. Now, people are delighted by the idea of PACT and many people are surprisingly excited to talk about (and show me) their underwear.”