12.19.18 / New York / New York

Buffy is Making Bedding That’s As Sustainable as it is Cozy

Like sleeping under a Cloud

Among all of the holiday-pop ups in downtown Manhattan, which stock everything from influencer-authored fashion books to trendy novelty tech, one struck us as a little odd: Buffy. Unlike the others, there isn’t much residing in what Buffy dubs the “Soft—Space:” a few beds, neutral colors, and some wooden decor. In fact, the entire pop-up exists to showcase one single product by the bedding company, a simple white comforter aptly named The Cloud. There’s more than meets the eye, however, and Buffy is trading flash for something far more important to us— sustainability.

It makes sense that a brand like Buffy would emerge now. The entire sleep industry has been transformed by upstarts such as Casper and Leesa, and the direct-to-consumer model has proven to be lucrative, but Buffy was built with a different perspective. “Typically, the story goes that a group of MBA students with no industry experience identify a product that could be wrapped in a millennial pink brand and then ‘cut out the middle man.’ Buffy was concieved of as an opportunity from a totally different angle,” says co-founder and VP of Brand Paul Shaked. “We saw an opportunity to upend the home soft goods industry from the inside. Much like the fashion industry beginning to question itself over the massive amounts of waste that are the result of its practices, we too saw that bedding and other home products create even more waste and use even more toxic materials.”

Shaked began his career in the restaurant industry, where he initially developed a passion for sustainable agriculture through a natural wine program. After years of working at creative agencies as well as the eco-friendly clothing label NOAH, he linked up with Buffy’s founder and CEO Leo Wang, then still developing the concept for The Cloud. It wasn’t a fluke; Wang’s family had been in the business for over 25 years, giving them an insight few entrepreneurs have. Combined with their eco-friendly ethos, Buffy began to take off. “The true spark that lit Buffy was our sustainability mission. I think our pole-position to enter the market combined with our mission to upend the home soft goods business was the true opportunity for us.”

[Paul Shaked]

“Americans waste 20 billion gallons of water just to grow the cotton in the comforters we buy every year,” Shaked explains. “Not only that, but the American consumer has been acculturated to think that down-fill is the best possible option out there, so manufacturers and brands spend little time exploring alternative materials.” That problem is compounded when considering the inhumane nature in which the feathers are often sourced. “The typical 2 pounds of down required in the comforter fill means a dozen geese or ducks were live plucked. In fact the industry live-plucks over 4 million birds a year, eventually sending them to slaughter — it’s easier not to challenge the norm for everyone.” Instead, The Cloud is filled with an eco-fiber made from 100% recycled BPA and phthalate-free PET plastic bottles, which is then layered to produce a light, fluffy effect. The shell is made from lyocell, sustainably sourced from Austria.

Nonetheless, Buffy isn’t heavy-handed about its eco-consciousness goals, instead focusing on the softness and aforementioned fluffiness of the comforter which have won over consumers and press alike. Though The Cloud is their only product now, Buffy has big plans for 2019, and sustainability is built into their identity. “We’re working really hard to try to build some new and impactful products in the bedding category next year,” Shaked explains. “That includes looking at the full spectrum of alternative materials out there, from sugarbeet-derived plastic, to mushroom and algae foam. This might sound weird to some, but we’re really inspired by the new possibilities popping up with eco-materials, so we’re trying to seriously push that in our practice.”

That’s where the value of a brand like Buffy lies, in its ability to see potential in products that have long gone unchallenged, and instilling in them the principles necessary to drive a responsible culture forward. “It was important for us to question that norm by taking what is an ostensibly benign product — a comforter — and challenge these preconceived norms by making it better than down, better than cotton; we needed to make it better for people and better for the Earth.”

Soft—Space is open at 150 Wooster Street though December 28th (closed on December 25th). Check out Buffy’s website for more information on The Cloud.

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