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Opinion

”Scandinavia is at the forefront of sustainability, so we see this to be an important development market”

As part of our research report, The New Sustainable Consumer, where we want to create a better understanding of why and how consumers do or do not incorporate sustainability issues into their consumption behaviour. We’ve researched a large amount of existing quantitative consumer reports from around the world and conducted a wide range of interviews with industry experts. These experts have acted as our advisors, they are individuals dedicated to sustainability and add different perspectives to the research through their individual approach. The report will be presented at the Scandinavian MIND Transformation Conference 12 November. Click below to register.

We call them our ’voices of change’ and this time we turn to Uwe Kippschnieder and Lisa-Marie Jena, from the German brand CLOSED, to talk about how sustainability is a key factor in their DNA, why Scandinavia is an important market for sustainable brands and how the name CLOSED was born in 1978. 

CLOSED is also one of eight European brands that are currently relevant through Zalando’s collaboration to create a more sustainable capsule collection Small steps. Big impact. A capsule collection that guides consumers to make more sustainable decisions when it comes to fashion without compromising on style. Read about the full collection here.

First of all, could tell me about the brand CLOSED and how the name was born? 

The origin of the brand was born in 1968 by Marithe and Francois Girbaud. They gave their brand the name C’est ça. ‘ÇA’ for short,  with one clear idea, to launch Italy’s first denim label. That’s was it, hence the name C’est ça. The start of the brand could have gone better, and soon they found themselves entangled in a lengthy lawsuit ending up with that they had lost the rights to their name and had to rename the company. In 1978 when they got the letter from the court saying that the case was CLOSED, they decided to stick with that as a name. And the brand name CLOSED has stayed since then. 

Amazing story, how did sustainability be a part of your brand and why is it so important?  

— Well, we have been doing this for a long time, now sustainability has become a trend but for us it’s not, we have always had this mindset. We are a family business. That’s not just a fact, it is how we operate in everything we do, and it is a key element in our philosophy. Our philosophy is to manage the brand the same way businesses was managed in the old days when you did business with people close around you, who you like and trust.  This philosophy has shaped the brand since the start and works with our vision to create sophisticated, long-lasting design and that every stage from the sourcing to production is made as sustainable as possible. We want to produce our collections with less of an environmental impact and look upon all resources with respect. We want to do this with friends, and we want to do this now and for the future. So, we have as much as possible of our production close by in Europe, today it is around 80 %, and all our denim is produced in Italy. This includes trims, laundry and everything. 

”We want to do this with friends, and we want to do this now and for the future”

If I get it right you have a long relationship with your Italian partners creating the BETTER BLUE line of Denim? 

— Yes our jeans are made in close relationship with them and the joint know-how led to the development of our eco-friendly denim line A BETTER BLUE for a more sustainable jeans production. Almost all our jeans are crafted in collaboration with three production partners. Candiani, a traditional weaving company, which many refer to as the best (and greenest!) mill in the world, provides the fabric. A BETTER BLUE, Candiani uses cotton from the Better Cotton Initiative. Our jeans are then hand-sewn by Paul SPA, a family-run business. As there is an expert in every part of the process, a total of 22 different specialists are involved in the production of one single pair of CLOSED’s signature Pedal Pusher jeans. Since CLOSED is family-owned, we don’t have the same growth stress from investors. Instead, we can grow organically and sustainable together with our partners.  

How come you see Scandinavia as a potential market for Sustainable brands?

Uwe: — Scandinavia is at the forefront of sustainability. Before the Covid-19 crisis, we could see that it was mainly a trendsetting conscious consumer that engaged in our sustainability work and demanded products that were produced in a certain way. Now we see the consumer demand increase in all aspects surrounding sustainability and that Scandinavia is one of the regions where this change is happening faster than others.

Lisa: — We can see two different consumers engage with Closed. We have one group that has been with us for a long time. Long before Sustainability was a thing and considered trendy. They know about our DNA and engage because they know what we stand for and they have been with us for a long time. Then we have the new and younger consumers. They find us because sustainability has become a thing and they start searching for more sustainable brands. They feel that sustainability is the real deal and they want brands that are transparent and trustworthy in what they do. We see that Scandinavia is definitely at the forefront of this sustainable movement and a leading region in this topic. This makes Scandinavia an important development market that we want to approach with a sense of Hanseatic humbleness. 

This interview is part of our research for The New Sustainable Consumer — where we want to create a better understanding of why and how consumers incorporate sustainability issues into their consumption behaviour. We’ve researched a large amount of existing quantitative consumer reports from around the world and conducted a wide range of interviews with industry experts. These experts have acted as our advisors, they are individuals dedicated to sustainability and add different perspectives to the research through their individual approach. The report will be presented at the Scandinavian MIND Transformation Conference 12 November. Secure your free ticket to the online experience below.

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News

A subscription service raising the bar for second-hand fashion

Hack Your Closet collects second-hand items, unsold goods, or overstocks to match your personal styling profile. ”The clothing industry has to change. The truth is that there are enough clothes out there to dress all of us for the next 10 years,” says CEO Lisa Gautier.

According to a report published in 2017 by Allied Market Research, the global online clothing rental market was valued at $1,013 million in 2017, and is estimated to reach $ 1,856 million by 2023, registering a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.6% from 2017 to 2023. A development led by the North American market, followed by the Asia-Pacific region, the trend has also reached Scandinavia. Swedish service Hack Your Closet is a spin of the French-born CEO Lisa Gautier’s first venture.

— I’ve always wanted to work with re-sale and extending the life of produced garments. I’ve never stopped wishing to make an impact on the clothing industry and changing it for something more sustainable, she says.

After working in the apparel industry her entire life, it remains a passion. But her background is also in fashion-tech, digital innovation, user experience, and entrepreneurship, working for Outfittery GmbH in Berlin, Fyndiq, and Spotify. Her co-founder Mikaela Larsell Ayesa graduated from KTH in Stockholm with an M.Sc in Engineering, Innovation Management, and Circular Economy, where she developed a great interest in environmental questions and services with a greater purpose.

Gautier initially created Hack Your Closet when she saw how many barriers there are for consumers to buy second-hand items.

— It honestly scares off most people, she states. The clothing industry has to change. The truth is that there are enough clothes out there to dress all of us for the next 10 years. I am not talking about dressing like our grandparents, but styles that you and I already wear every day. I can look outside and dress anyone with items taken out of what we call The Waste Stream: second-hand items, unsold goods, or overstocks.

How does it work?

— After creating your style profile with us, you will be matched with a closet assistant or stylist, in order for us to build a both strong and unique relationships with our customers. When your style profile is saved and you have subscribed to our service, you will receive four handpicked items every month. You can wear them as long as you like before returning them.

How do you handle the hygiene?

— All of the clothes that we cycle are repaired, sanitized and washed between each cycle. Because of the scale of our closet, we’re able to use efficient but also sustainable processes to wash our clothes.

In the middle of the COVID crisis, the startup just secured investment from several industry profiles, including Babyshop chairwoman Susanna Campbell.

— We have been supporting small and bigger retailers during this difficult time, as we take in leftover goods to prevent them from being wasted. Our biggest challenge has been to grow our company during the crisis. We were ready to scale-up, but the economical instability has definitely affected the consumers which directly impacts service like ours that works with a direct-to-consumer model, says Gautier. She continues:

— We’re extremely humbled and excited to welcome new shareholders. Raising capital is all about building relationships, most of our new investors have known me and followed my journey for the past three years. We believe a lot in each other and are excited to be working together in challenging the clothing industry. I’m also confident that we will expand to a new market before the end of the year, the question is which one are we going for first. •