A Counter-intuitive Business Model
"My daughter loves the look and I love the quality. She has a hand-me-down Author t-shirt that still looks brand new (and she wears it a lot!)." ~ Elisa
Have you ever wondered how many of the clothes in your child’s closet were designed to become beloved hand-me-downs?
In a fast-fashion world where clothes frequently appear as if they were designed to self-destruct, purchasing clothes made to last is no easy feat.
If you've ever thought, "Surely, it can't be that hard to make clothes that survive more than one child," you're absolutely right. It's not hard; it's impossible...if your business model is based on consumption.
In 2018 H&M reported $23.6 Billion USD in global sales and trend-savvy Zara was valued at a healthy $18.4 Billion USD.
With sales targets like that, major fashion retailers simply can't afford to make clothes that last.
Fast-fashion giants prefer to release new styles at mind-boggling speed; from design to completion in as little as two weeks. New styles arrive almost daily to coax shoppers into a constant state of unsatisfied desire.
Thankfully consumers need not be in want long; surprisingly low price tags don't demand a lot of consideration or sacrifice. Why bother with quality when an item can simply be replaced?
The overwhelming profitability of the fast-fashion business model can make it seem entirely counterintuitive to design clothes with the goal of being passed down to siblings and cousins.
In traditional business math, the more clothes a company sells, the more money it makes. (Notice that we didn’t say, “the more successful it is.” More on that thought another day.)
Even so, we happen to believe that it is possible to build a successful clothing company by selling fewer clothes...to more people.
How will we do this?
By paying more, not less, for labour and materials.
By building a supply chain defined by honour and dignity.
By creating versatile products designed to last.
By inspiring our customers and celebrating the impact of each purchase.
By making our growth dependent on cheerleaders, not consumption.
Sure it might sound crazy, but we're actually in pretty good company. You may have heard of a little company called Patagonia... Do you remember this eyebrow-raising ad? (You can read more about their counterintuitive business model here).
Despite our reference to H&M and Zara, we don’t personally have plans for global domination - although we do have dreams of transforming an industry known for disturbing workplace violations and shockingly low wages that make the poverty line look like a far-off dream.
The great news: our idea of success doesn’t depend on you buying clothes to replace ones that fall apart, it depends on you buying clothes that you love; clothes that your kids love...and then simply telling your friends about them.
What do you think? In our fast-fashion culture, do you think a business can be successful making kids' clothes designed to last?