Meet the pair of entrepreneurs behind Paire, the Melbourne-based brand that is prioritising comfort. Co-founders Nathan Yun and Rex Zhang are best friends in life and in business. The brand’s origin story began with the pursuit of trying to create the perfect pair of socks. Today, it is on a broader mission to make the world feel good – but it won’t compromise its values of sustainability to do it. Setting a standard of sustainability “At a concept level, sustainability means the produ
ns the product and the business has to do well for people, the planet and our future collectively,” said Nathan. “When I say ‘people,’ it doesn’t just mean the customers; it also means our workers, our labourers and everyone on the supply chain that produces the product.” “At Paire, we look at every component on the supply chain from materials to the end product,” he added. The founders of Paire have placed a large emphasis on people, especially the labourers who source the materials for the fabric and are on the frontline of the factory. Every link in Paire’s supply chain must have a fair-trade certification. This has influenced the very materials they use in their garments – avoiding natural fibres such as 100 per cent cotton and bamboo that require significant chemical interference and in turn, threaten the health and safety of labourers. “When you mention bamboo, it sounds very refreshing, very green and lots of people believe it is harmless,” said Rex. Nearly all bamboo fabrics on the market are viscose, a type of material which requires chemical solvents that endanger factory workers and pollute the environment via air emissions and wastewater, according to research released by Patagonia. The co-founders’ decision to boycott bamboo calls back to their sustainability ethos that the business, Paire, has to do well for people and the planet. Innovating for a better world Now co-founders Rex and Nathan are leading the Australian fashion industry in fabric innovation with their five trademarked fabrics including CoolBlend, BreezeBlend and NudeTech. “We see ourselves as a fabric technology company which means we develop our own yarn and fabric ourselves”, said Rex. “We take the hard road. For us, we develop our own fabric which means we have […] a higher cost and there is an education process for people to understand that it is actually a better product,” he disclosed. The co-founders hope to combat this barrier to entry through a pop-up store located in Melbourne’s QV shopping precinct, where customers can feel the quality of the garments for themselves. Most fashion start-ups don’t innovate in-house and instead use white-label products manufactured by another company and focus on packaging and marketing. Instead, Paire is focused on innovating the wardrobe staples that so many consumers have just accepted to be mediocre. “We feel like there is a societal trend here where it’s encouraging people to just spend on low-quality products that are bad for the earth,” said Nathan. “The core functionality of clothes is to keep people comfortable… We felt that we should have a brand that encourages people to focus on their own comfort rather than chasing trends with low-quality items,” he added. The value proposition of comfort Paire wants to break this consumerist cycle and sell products that people actually need without costing the earth. Nearly three-fifths of all clothing ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of being produced, according to The New York Times. The simplicity of Paire’s goal for comfort begs the question why more brands aren’t doing this. “We want our customers to buy Paire products because they are comfortable and because they bring value to their everyday life. We want them to feel comfortable and happy with themselves,” said Nathan. “Comfy is probably the most practical thing a piece of clothing can bring you. That’s why Paire focuses on comfort more than anything else,” he concluded.