Why offer pre-orders?
In order to further the sustainability conversation and the role we play, we are always thinking of ways in which to support this ideal. So we ask ourselves– how can we offer new products without over-producing designs that may or may not resonate with the end consumer, while at the same time let them take part in the design process? What are people really looking for? Why do they like this texture, or that color, or this sleeve length? Zipper or buttons? Pockets or no pockets? These are questions we ask ourselves with every new design.
Over-producing garments season after season is extremely wasteful and clearly unsustainable. The fashion industry, as a whole doesn’t traditionally embrace sustainability, it is about profit at all cost and has become a race to the bottom, devaluing clothing and disregarding the enormous destructive environmental impact.
The current industry paradigm, in fact, goes against the whole concept of sustainability and sadly has become one of the most wasteful industries on the planet. It’s a dirty secret that’s finally getting exposed. Now what? Dwelling on the problem or simply overlooking it has never sat well with us. We’ve successfully been able to incorporate sustainable initiatives into our sourcing and manufacturing processes since the very beginning but we also wanted to address the problem of excess inventory and the waste that happens after the products are produced. Small batch production has been a successful endeavor for us and many garment manufacturers are seeing the value-producing smaller runs but getting consistent orders spread out over time. Not only does this stabilize workflow for all involved but more importantly improves the quality of life for the workers themselves.
The concept of pre-ordering allows us to test the market’s interest in a certain fabric, color, or silhouette before it goes into a larger production. This saves time, money and resources at every stage of a garment’s journey from the fabric to the end consumer. Being the solution-oriented people that we are, we began offering a handful of our products for pre-order earlier this year and frankly we’ve learned a lot.
What is a pre-order?
A pre-order is an order placed for an item that has not yet been produced. Pre-orders allow manufacturers to gauge how much demand there will be and thus the size of the initial production run. For us, testing the popularity of a garment is key and gives us crucial information that helps in this decision. We live in a consumerist society where people devote a great deal of time, energy, resources and thought to “consuming”. The general view of life in a consumerist society is that consumption is good, and more consumption is even better. Everybody seeks instant gratification and instant delivery. This hyper-consumerism has fueled fast fashion’s dominance and along with it environmental destruction. We chose to take a slower approach and deliver quality over quantity. We produce garments that are meant to last, offering value versus the excessive waste associated with “disposable” goods. Much like how the slow food movement versus fast food has become so popular in recent years. It’s time to bring the same awareness and value back into clothing. Fast fashion has completely devalued clothing at a high environmental cost and it is time to move forward and support the needed change.
We produce many of our garments in small batches right here in the Bay Area in order to maintain the highest quality standards with the lowest possible environmental impact. Overproduction and the mass disposal of unsold clothes are clearly an under-addressed issue in the fashion industry. Honestly, it is widely unknown how much “dead stock” accumulates every year. It is estimated that 20% -30% (80 million tons) of garments produced by fast fashion brands remain unsold, leading to enormous amounts of excess clothing that is either burned or thrown into landfill. Needless to say, this results in wasted human resources, fabric, dyes, not to mention the environmental impact, etc.…
Through our pre-order system, we can more accurately estimate how many pieces we are going to sell of a certain product. This not only leads to higher resource efficiency but also prevents senseless raw material waste. Creating less waste results in lower cost, a saving that trickles down to the end consumer so that everyone benefits. The environment, the manufacturer, and you!
Fast fashion, as its name suggests– is not produced to last. This disqualifies any attempt to produce a product more “sustainably”. We believe, that garments must have a long and useful life. Our garments are made with love and built to last.
The pre-order concept goes hand in hand with our direct-to-consumer model. It allows our customers to literally get involved in the design process through direct feedback and gives us crucial information in developing new designs that address the customers’ wishes and concerns.
What is apparel’s future?
The World Resources Institute states that apparel spending is projected to grow tremendously. This is particularly true in Asia, as hundreds of millions of people in China and India enter the global middle class. By 2030, there will be 5.4 billion people in the global middle class, from 3 billion in 2015. We can expect increased demand for clothing and other consumer goods that define middle-income lifestyles.
If consumption continues at its current rate, we’ll need three times as many natural resources by 2050 compared to what we used in 2000. Fast-changing trends and low prices have allowed people to consume even more. The average consumer is now purchasing 60 percent more items of clothing compared to 2000, but each garment is kept half as long. To keep the apparel industry viable in tomorrow’s markets, the issue of consumption must be brought to the forefront– and it must begin now.
Apparel is just one sector competing for natural resources, but it’s important that clothing makers start transforming their business models now given the industry’s strong growth trajectory. A handful of companies like ours are aware of the environmental risks and are taking action.
The next step is for consumers to get properly educated so they can change their habits as well and use their purchasing power to help the slow fashion movement gain traction. Our direct-to-consumer model, combined with the pre-order concept are just two more approaches that we’ve embraced to help move the needle forward to a more sustainable future.