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Case Code: BECG158
Case Length: 16 Pages 
Period: 1986-2016   
Pub Date: 2018
Teaching Note: Available
Organization : Eileen Fisher Inc.
Industry : Fashion
Countries : India
Themes:    --  
Case Studies  
Business Strategy
Human Resource Management
IT and Systems
Leadership & Entrepreneurship

Building a Sustainable Company: The Story of Eileen Fisher

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The unique designs of EF formed the core of the business. The simple, sensual, beautiful, timeless, and functional values were part of every collection the company created. The ideas were brought to life through clean lines and simple shapes. The designs which were created out of passion strove to balance the timeless with modern fashion, keeping the beauty intact. EF had a “One Design Culture” (Refer to Exhibit IV). Many customers became loyalists and made the kimono shapes and floppy trousers a part of their daily wardrobe. EF’s designs consisted of very simple geometric shapes. With time, the designs were modified by cropping, dropping the dress-length, giving a dolman-sleeve, pockets, a little stretch, stripes, asymmetrical hems, back-pleats, etc. ..

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While textile industries were infamous for wasting water, EF aimed to have control over the resource. Along with using less water and producing less fabric waste, the company also made investments in renewable energies. The organic cottons used by the brand were dyed and processed in such a manner that two-thirds less water was used than in any other standard process followed for garment dying. About 30-50 percent energy, water, and chemicals were saved in the brand’s silk fabric processing in collaboration with Bluesign. The company supported organic farming which helped it achieve a significantly less grey water footprint...


The renovation which was done at the headquarters in Irvington not only enhanced the looks of the workspace but also reduced lighting costs. At Secaucus (New Jersey), which was the distribution center of EF, a solar power system of 500 kilowatt was set up across the roof in 2011. The solar panels not only fulfilled almost 60 percent of the electricity requirement but also reduced the usage of air conditioners as they absorbed the heat and provided a cooler effect. ..


In the year 2009, though the company was doing good business, Eileen wasn’t very happy with the progress. The reason for this was people’s perception that the designs were made only for women of 33-50 years of age and of plus sizes (EFs clothes were a hit in that segment). The image of the brand kept the younger people away from accepting it. To change such a perception and to cater to the younger segment, Eileen decided to give the company a new face..


Eileen’s Vision 2020 had the objective of using Tencel fiber instead of rayon for the clothes EF manufactured. The company was planning to get away from the regular fiber Viscose because of many reasons. First, it was not easy to track the source of the wood from where the mills were extracting it. Second, the processing of the fiber required a lot of chemicals and energy. The third reason was the health concern for the workers who were exposed to the toxic solvent used for the fiber. Tencel was a safer option as it was less toxic and the fiber could be recycled. But the problem the company was facing was that the fiber was not as versatile as Viscose. .


Exhibit I:More on B Corporation Certification
Exhibit II:Eileen Fisher’s VISION 2020
Exhibit III:Values of Eileen Fisher Inc.
Exhibit IV:One Design Culture of Eileen Fisher Inc.
Exhibit V:Mission of Eileen Fisher Inc.