Confession time. When Nau launched some years ago (2007, to be precise), I was fogging up the window of their Boulder, Colorado concept store, waiting for it to open. More Muji than Mainstreet, the brand’s constructed their own corner at the crossroads of fashion and function, namely by breaking away from outsourced design and lookalike styles.
Jump to 2015. Nau’s passion for responsible design smolders in every piece—with some styles threatening to spontaneously combust. But fear not, cool urbanity prevails, even as the tech and engineering behind the line threaten traditional garment production. While other brands are not in imminent danger, Nau’s claiming hard-to-retake ground.
There’s no doubt; Nau products defy fast fashion and annual obsolescence. After testing products in Colorado, the Andes and 5 million souls-strong Santiago, Active Junky is confident in what’s inside each and every Nau piece. Five factors contribute to the singular look:
Factor #1: People power the enterprise.
Free spirits, united around a mission, populate the brand’s leadership cadre. Quirkier than might be expected from a serious enterprise out to change the industry, the diversity of skills and experiences provide fertile ground for innovation—think shakas meet technical design.
Factor #2: Sustainability is an understatement.
Nau didn’t go green to join a movement. Principles of enduring design, responsible sourcing and above-board manufacturing were embedded from the outset. The recycled down collection, born from European duvets, is the most recent expression of a responsible – and deeply embedded – worldview.
Factor #3: The stuff of dreams.
The line-up of materials being employed equals warm fuzzies. Merino wool spins humane animal treatment into soft, warm, odor-fighting elements. Recycled polyester armors the exterior of garments as the most sustainable fiber. Tencel jumps in with cottony softness, moisture wicking and quick-drying properties.
Factor #4: Wearing is believing.
Nau weaves a responsible, global-sourcing story that sheds toxicity and waste in favor of a better future. Working closely with suppliers, the company experiments extensively before committing to designs. To the world, the finished look stands apart. For those involved, the garment is another step in a long, integrity-testing journey.
Factor #5: Something bigger.
At the moment, Nau donates 2% of sales to the proven projects of six “Partners for Change.” Conversation Alliance protects threatened wild lands and waterways. PeopleForBikes brings mettle to the pedals, paving the way for decreased reliance on automobiles. Mercy Corps shows up when disaster makes the going tough. Three more partners reach people in amazing places, doing good work across continents and ecosystems.
An active lifestyle requires apparel that shelters you from the storm. Breathability is critical, as is pure everyday functionality. Nau believes that, behind even the most practical products, is a better way, one well worth the sacrifice