Carolyn McMaster | June 13, 2015
When Gary Barker’s design team embarked on redesigning the clothes hanger as an environmentally sustainable product, Barker secretly thought it was the “stupidest idea” ever. That was in 2006; now the resulting Ditto hangers are being embraced by major retailers such as Levi Strauss, REI and the Gap, and Barker’s green product design company, Ditto Sustainable Brand Solutions, is flourishing. Its products have garnered a slew of design and merchandising awards, and in 2013, Acterra gave Ditto its prestigious award for environmental innovation.
The team started out searching for a product that could show off the then-new company’s design and environmental cred. The road from there to here was not particularly easy, but tenacity and adaptability ultimately paid off.
“We were just looking at the economy — large consumption equals a good economy. We’re not going to be able to affect consumption — as designers, our responsibility ends at the cash register,” says Barker, founder and CEO. “The idea was to design products that flow through recycling systems at the end of their useful life.”