ARQ Offers Simple and Durable Base Layers for Children and Adults
Abigail Quist, Founder of ARQ
My background is in art and dance, but I have been sewing a lot of my own clothes since childhood. My mom had a great stash of vintage fabric that was always available to me and I think it was a healthy outlet for my interest in fashion that didn't involve nonstop consumption. I never expected to be a designer, but can't believe how well it has suited me creatively and how much I love the challenge of making an essential product tick all the boxes. I think most of our customers feel like I do. We don't necessarily feel like fashion is precious- but it's fun. We like to look good but not at the expense of comfort or ethics. We're not perfect (working on zero waste in my home and definitely backsliding here and there) but we're trying!
ARQ is a sustainable base-layer brand. We started three years ago with a full baby and child collection, but the essentials eventually became the focus of our line. When we created some adult-sized versions of our kiddo undies we were thrilled to receive a massive response and have been (gratefully) scrambling to keep up with demand since.
I did a lot of sewing for myself and my family and my sister in law, Elle Rowley, approached me about partnering on a clothing line. I jumped, and have been a fish out of water the entire time, but she has been really supportive and patient as I slowly made my way up the businessperson learning curve. With adult items, I feel like I've found a really fun and challenging area, with just the right amount of constraint naturally built-in for my overly excitable creative style.
I think we just have a precise feeling for what so many design-conscious people and families who are trying to live a deliberate and healthy lifestyle want. At some point I realized how much sense it made to pare our offerings down to basics. People can thrift, shop vintage, and invest in a few special new pieces, but most people want new underwear, and then they're going to wear it out. We are out to make these essential items really high quality and with way less impact on the environment.
And of course, we want to make sure that they are something that people are so excited to put on every day. I recently had a customer write a long emotional email to me describing how she felt that for the first time in years, her body looked great in her undies. She said her 'mom-belly' looked cute and I was like, Yes! That's just it. We are not out to 'flatter' you- you are already beautiful. You'll look and feel like you and there's no improving on that.
We contract with transparent factories in the US and our fabric is knitted here as well. We use GOTS certified organic cotton and fabric dyes, recycled paper for hang tags and mailers, and we ship plastic-free almost 100% of the time. We are always trying to find better ways to do things and are so excited to be growing and able to invest in a trajectory that aligns with our values. That all sounds really jargony but its an efficient way to describe what we are trying to do for sure.