The fashion industry today makes up 4% of the annual global greenhouse-gas emissions. The average swede buys 14 kg of clothes every year and throws away 8 of them before 12 months have passed. Yet the customer is not satisfied, and keeps turning to the simple promises of fast fashion for more, all while her environmental anxiety keeps building up. Is there a way to offer the convenience of fast fashion and grow the industry, while also reducing the environmental impact of fashion?
When you set out to create a solution to a problem, I’ve found the best way to start is by breaking it down to its smallest components. Then you can define the set of axioms, or truths as I like to call them, which will frame your solution.
In terms of products and services, I believe these truths are the key to success. Spotify knew they needed to create an experience that was better than piracy, that could give the record labels a revenue stream they missed out on. Apple saw how they could get the power of the computer into everyone’s hands by focusing on interaction and ease of use in a world where you needed a technical degree to handle a PC.
At It’s Re:Leased we‘re guided by two truths.
1. The toothpaste and the tube
Some things that enter our lives are so good we can’t imagine living without them. When the PirateBay trials were held here in Sweden, one of the big news channels asked a professor of mine how hard it would be to stop piracy. His answer was “As hard as it would be to put the toothpaste back into the tube once it’s out.” With services like Napster, Kazaa and PirateBay, users had gotten used to getting the music they wanted for free without leaving the house or paying a single cent for it. There was no going back after that, something Spotify understood and built their product around. And the rest is history.
In the case of the fashion industry, the toothpaste is the behaviour created by fast fashion. We’ve gotten used to buying new dresses for every occasion without it costing more than a dinner out in town. Between every event you’re attending, the floor of the fast fashion boutique is cleared and new dazzling styles are added. There’s no need for you to go without a new craving or “need”. And hey, when the price is that good, why not get five styles in three sizes each and just return what you don’t like?
As awareness around sustainability is rising with today’s consumer — and with that putting a higher demand on quality and consciousness — premium brands choose to focus on timeless and durable designs which is great, but leaves us with a big itch: we don’t want to wear black t-shirts for the rest of our lives. We want the feeling of new that we’re used to. We want to wear a crisp pink dress for the few months the weather is warm, and waltz into our salary negotiation in a luxurious pinstripe suit. We want inspiration, experimentation and “I got the feelz for.”
This toothpaste is out of the tube, and there’s no putting it back again.
2. New goals, new growth
This is the reality of the world we’re in. Fast fashion might not be the best experience, but it sure has the prices and convenience to make up for it. So how can you as a brand do better than that? Quality and aesthetics is of course the answer to that question, but on its own it’s not enough to make any significant change to the 4% of global greenhouse-gas emissions the fashion industry stands for today. The customer still wants the constant variation and is going to get it one way or another. And I’m sorry to say that no amount of quality or ecological cotton can make up for the fact that we buy new garments every other month. We need to produce less and that’s the only way forward.
Brands today collect their total revenue (and data) on what is being sold during the 3 months their products are in stores. They never see how the garments are used, for how long they’re actually relevant, and they don’t reap the benefits from that truly great piece that is used month after month after month.. To really shift focus in the industry, there are two pieces of the puzzle missing; the continuous data on garments to support constant quality improvement, and a circular business model to make up for the costs and changed behaviour. These two pieces together will shift the focus from quantity to quality, which will have a real impact on the annual emissions of the industry.
When we acknowledge the fact that this toothpaste is here to stay, and that we need a new way of working within our industry, we can actually build a viable solution to the problem.
We’re building It’s Re:Leased for our customers and our brands. Our uncompromisable goal is to be your variation and need without taking up any extra time or headspace, and at the same time to be a trusted partner to our brands and help them through this massive shift we have to go through. I’m looking forward to sharing more insights on features we’re releasing. Features to help you take on a new behaviour without risking the convenience of your current one. In fact, you deserve more convenience, better garments, and a planet to proudly pass on to the next generation.