As an E-Commerce Editor for SPY, I get quite a few pitches in my inbox on a day-to-day basis. It can be hard to sort through everything and find the brands, products and trends that absolutely must be covered. But when this brand’s visuals popped up in my inbox, I immediately knew I wanted to take a closer look. Baxter Wood is a new apparel company that makes eco-friendly, unisex rainwear. The brand’s first products are effortlessly trendy and super practical, a combination that is rarer than it should be.
After taking a closer look at the Baxter Wood website, I was hooked. In this brand spotlight, I’m going to introduce you to this young brand, highlight some cool products and share a little bit about the brand’s unique backstory.
Introducing Baxter Wood, an Up-And-Coming Rainwear Brand
We’ve written about plenty of rain gear, men’s style and Black-owned businesses before on SPY, but we have yet to cover a brand quite like this. Baxter Wood was founded by a Ghanaian-born designer named Kweku Larbi alongside his fiancé Sarah Smith. Larbi grew up in Ghana right down the street from one of the country’s largest landfills, and since he was a small child he’s had a different perspective on trash than most people. Seeing it with his own eyes on a daily basis gave him a firsthand appreciation of the devastating environmental, health and social effects of plastic waste on communities and the planet at large.
While for most consumers in the States, throwing something “away” means it actually goes “away.” But for many communities around the world, this is definitely not the case. Also, it’s worth noting that when it comes to plastic and other materials that never biodegrade, there really is no such thing as “away.” Larbi explains that “Plastic waste in the streets of Ghana is the status quo. People walk past it, people add to it, people ignore it.”
How Baxter Wood Uses Non-Toxic, Sustainable Materials To Create Kick-Ass Rain Gear
Clearly, Larbi couldn’t ignore plastic waste because he decided to use this waste to create. Larbi and Smith live in the United States, where they’ve officially launched Baxter Wood with the goal of decreasing plastic waste levels in low-income nations all over the world. To accomplish this, the duo is using 100% Amazonian tree rubber for their boots and using 22 recycled water bottles in every raincoat. Typically, rain boots are made from crude oil that eventually ends up polluting oceans and landfills once they get worn out and thrown “away.” (Again, see how “away” doesn’t ever really mean “away?”)
The Amazonian rubber they use instead is a natural alternative to petroleum-based synthetic rubber. This material is vegan, non-toxic and biodegradable. By using natural rubber, Baxter Wood offsets this impact, and through creating “no new plastic” they’re creating new clothes without new waste, a methodology most of the fashion industry could learn a thing or two from.
The brand’s mission of “no new plastic” aims to decrease the “double negative” impact that most plastic production and consumption has on the planet. The creation of plastic requires burning fossil fuels, so the carbon footprint is already big, and plastic is inevitably discarded, leaving it to pollute our earth. Discarded plastic waste sticks around in the form of marine debris, micro plastics and other hazards. Baxter Wood, through the materials they use and where their funding goes, are attempting to break this cycle. Their stylish raincoats are made from an rPET polyester fabric woven from post-consumer recycled plastic water bottles. Each jacket contains about 22 bottles, give or take.
Per recommendations from the World Wildlife Fund, the brand also only uses sustainable, ethically-produced natural rubber sourced from farmers who grow on low-quality, degraded land. This ensures that there’s no clearing of high-quality forests and animal habitats to produce their materials, and thus no ecosystems are being disrupted. Baxter Wood also recycles boots from their customers and other footwear companies in an attempt to reuse and give existing plastic new life, rather than simply producing more. If you’ve got an old pair to give away, they’d rather you send them their way than toss them out — and every pair will get you a $30 credit towards a Baxter Wood purchase.
They also, like other eco-friendly brands we’ve mentioned, use only organic cotton. There are many reasons why organic cotton is better, but the overwhelming benefit is for the planet. Cotton uses more toxic pesticides per acre to grow than any other crop out there. These toxic chemicals leech into the earth over time — removing nutrients from the soil, polluting water sources and taking a huge toll on the health of the people who grow it. Baxter Wood only sources organic cotton for the lining of their boots, which means the clothing is healthier for the environment, healthier for you to wear, and doesn’t harm the earth or farmers in the process. Win, win, win.
Baxter Wood Is Making Trendy, Eco-Friendly Apparel
Now, let’s talk a bit about the clothing itself. As a new company, Baxter Wood only has two products for sale, a raincoat and vegan leather rain boots. The raincoat and boots are both gender-neutral, so anyone who likes ’em can rock ’em.
Baxter Wood’s raincoats are designed after classic Scandinavian sea wear, so you know they’ll protect you from the elements. (Scandinavian sailors don’t mess around when it comes to storm protection.) Each coat has a rubberized polyester lining and a hood with plenty of coverage.
Of course, the Baxter Wood boots are what first caught my eye. Here at SPY, we’re absolute suckers for a great pair of men’s Chelsea boots, and Baxter Wood has a killer pair of waterproof Chelsea boots in a variety of stylish colorways. Head to the Baxter Wood online store to check out all of the products for yourself.
Red Sole Chelsea Boots
Baxter Wood waterproof rain boots come in the classic Chelsea style with a low-cut around the ankle and a thick sole to keep your feet dry and warm. They come in three colors — red, white and grey — and each pair is vulcanized for superior protection against the elements. The elasticated gussets open along the side to allow your foot to slide in and out, and the steel pull tab up top makes getting them on easy. They’re finished in a classic black matte, so while the sole provides a pop of color this neutral style will match a variety of outfits.
Olive Trawler Jacket
Each one has snap closures in front as well as stress-tested double-welded seams so no droplets will infiltrate and leave you cold and damp on a rainy day. The jackets are designed to fit both men and women and be comfortable, with under-arm ventilation and eco-friendly stretch fabric.
How Baxter Wood Invests in Environmental Education
Another selling point for this sleek AF brand? With every purchase made on their site, Baxter Wood will sponsor a lesson on sustainability for children in low-income, developing countries. This is in partnership with the nonprofit 1% for Education. They’ve got lessons for everything eco including recycling, energy, urban water, climate change, sustainable living, organic farming, microplastics and more.
Larbi explains that “Ghana, like many other low income areas in the world, is sorely lacking in environmental protections and regulations. To make any kind of lasting change, we must teach the youth both how and why to care for the planet. If we’re going to survive this crisis, we all must learn to consume, create, and uncreate thoughtfully and intentionally.”
“With Baxter Wood, we want to show the world that while it’s easy to throw out, it’s better to throw on,” adds Smith.
Not only can you feel good about your brand new rain gear from an environmental perspective, there’s a philanthropic benefit as well, that’s tied into generational knowledge about preserving the planet. If you’re not sold already, I don’t know what to tell you.