We’re on a journey to make fashion smarter, giving fashion-lovers the best possible online retail experience and making sure every item of clothing is worn. Going forward, we’ll be sharing more about our Conscious roadmap and responsible choices.
9 SEPTEMBER 2021
In the fashion industry, 12% of the garments that are produced stay unsold.
Otrium’s purpose is: All Clothing Should Be Worn.
That’s why we’re tech-enabling designer brands to find an owner for every item they produce.
In this post, we’ll be sharing why being Conscious is important for us, what it means, and how you can follow our journey.
The definition of Conscious
For us, being Conscious is about being aware of our impact and finding solutions to do better. Whether that concerns our planet, people or animal welfare. We’re taking responsibility in two ways:
1. Driving positive change in the fashion industry by eradicating unsold seasonal inventory.
2. Continuously working to improve our own e-commerce practices.
Starting with the why
We recognise the fundamental contradiction between the current fashion industry, which thrives off newness and consumption, and being Conscious.Every single garment has an impact. Otrium wants to have a positive impact on the fashion industry by:
Solving the excess inventory problem by becoming the leading marketplace for unsold inventory
Reducing excess inventory levels in the fashion industry by data-enabling brands to take a demand-focused approach
Refurbishing our own e-commerce returns in order to bring them back in shape and find these items a new owner too
Helping our community make informed decisions by: Guiding them to find conscious brands easily, helping them to find the right items and size to minimise return and advising on garment care, so things last longer.
Follow our journey
Our commitment to being Conscious is an ongoing journey, taking both big and small steps in order to be a force for good. We want to be as transparent as possible and communicate our Conscious roadmap fully. We will update the renewed Conscious page on our platform regularly and publish a Conscious Report at the beginning of 2022, with our progress since 2020. Want to know more? Read our just-launched FAQs on Conscioushere.
Our next step: Conscious brands at Otrium
Our next step will be a label and filter to highlight Conscious brands on our platform. We’re in the process of collaborating with a validated partner to rate the fashion brands in the areas of people, planet and animal welfare. We’re always on the lookout for Conscious brands so if there’s a brand you love for their sustainability credentials that you feel we should be featuring, please reach out to [email protected].
How you can help
Approximately 25% of a garment’s environmental footprint happens in the wearing and washing. So with our smart tips and tricks, you can maximise your wardrobe and be kinder to the planet.
On our journey towards a smarter fashion industry, we’ve teamed up with Good On You – the leading source for fashion brand sustainability ratings. Using their know-how, we can now highlight brands that are going above and beyond to make a positive impact, and label them as Sustainable; allowing our customers to make more informed choices. To celebrate, we’ve been chatting to Sustainable-rated brands on our platform to find out their take on being conscious as a company, and more. We spoke to Lavinia Muth, former Corporate Responsibility lead at ARMEDANGELS. The Cologne-based brand not only makes fabulous fashion but is also here to make a positive impact. Here’s what Lavinia had to say: What does sustainability mean to you? “Well, personally I believe that sustainability is not enough – because it does not fix what’s broken. We need to think about more intelligent and more regenerative systems. At ARMEDANGELS, we define a sustainable product as follows: a product is sustainable if the used materials intend to sustain the status-quo and do no further harm to the people and the planet. We define a product to be sustainable if it contains at least 95% of alternative materials defined in the ARMEDANGELS Material Guidelines.”Tell us a little more about ARMEDANGELS.“Founded in 2007 by two students, at the time, with the aim to actually produce and sell organic and fairly traded shorts in an ethical way. We started with a bottom-up approach, which worked out. Now, 14 years later, we are 129 passionate employees. We also do denim, knits, wovens, underwear, and more. We are GOTS and GRS certified, have joined the Fair Wear Foundation, have founded our own organic farmers' association in India with more than 505 farmers and we are on our way to responsibly implementing circular business models. There’s more to come, so stay tuned!” What is your role within ARMEDANGELS? “I do Corporate Responsibility, which means that I implement social and ecological standard requirements at product-level and in supply chains. I also work closely with the top management, advocating for a fairer and more just fashion world, and for questioning our current business model.” What’s been your journey to helping ARMEDANGELS create a positive impact? “My background is Economics, Supply Chain Management, and Business Ethics, and I started working in the textile world 12 years ago. I am an accredited auditor and an in-your-face advocate for social and environmental justice, but my true dedication is more on the interfaces of business and human rights.” What achievement makes you most proud? “Our direct-to-grower approach within our work of the ARMEDANGELS Organic Farmers Association in India.” And what are you working on at the moment?“Defining corporate strategies, processes and new impact systems is my current daily routine. It’s super-exciting, although I prefer fieldwork where I can actively make a difference.” What’s the best feedback you have ever received from customers?“Authenticity, credibility, honesty, and humbleness. I think humbleness is my preferred one, a truly important characteristic!”What do customers value most about ARMEDANGELS and your products?“That we stick to our principles and always evolve. We try to do better, and if we know better, we do better.” Where do you think the brand will be in five years? “I would love to see a change in the business model – I wish to see more repairs, more care, more community creation, and more activism.” What does the future of fashion look like to you? “I wish to see more diversity, more inclusivity, and less doing business-as-usual.” How do you stay optimistic and persistent in the fight against climate change?“By telling people what the actual challenges are and also the solutions. It is not about using a renewable straw or cutting plastic bags. It is the moving of the masses. It is calling out CEOs and politicians, a collective approach, and collective energy. That’s what keeps me persistent.” What’s a recent change you have made to be more sustainable? “Well, this might sound crazy, but I am learning to knit socks which I can repair myself.Do you have a pro tip for extending the lifecycle of your wardrobe? “Yes, and it’s super-easy! Follow the care instructions on the care label and try to fix and repair your clothing yourself. We can do this!” Thanks for chatting with us, Lavinia!
We see a future where all clothing is worn, by eliminating unsold inventory and changing the way clothing is created and sold. On this journey towards a smarter fashion industry, we’ve teamed up with Good On You – the leading source for fashion brand sustainability ratings – to highlight brands on our platform that go the extra mile to be more sustainable. We are looking to highlight brands in a positive way and help our customers make more informed choices.Good On You pulls all brand information together and uses expert analysis to give each brand an easy-to-understand score. Otrium’s conscious filter is a great way to help our members to make more conscious choices. We’ve been taking the time to chat to the conscious-rated brands on our platform about sustainability, a circular economy and more. Dive in. First up, we chat to the team from Closed – a contemporary design brand that creates quality looks to stand the test of time. The word “sustainability” is thrown around a lot. What does it mean to you?“Sustainability has always been something we care about at Closed. Even before it was a buzzword or a trend – because, of course, we care about our planet. Always have, always will. We’re continuously making our processes as sustainable as possible – with our own eco-denim line A BETTER BLUE, sustainable materials and short transport routes (85% of our products are made in Europe, close to our main markets). We have been working for decades with most of our production partners. We are a member of the Fair Wear Foundation. We try to lower our carbon footprint where we can – and we care about animals. We stopped using fur in 2014 and do not use angora or down. We use recycled paper for our packaging and most of our printed goods – and would never throw away or destroy unsold Closed items.Step by step, we’re taking Closed towards a greener future. Our goal is to produce our collections with less of an environmental impact, while never compromising our high quality. Fortunately, these two values often go hand in hand. By making high quality our priority ever since the beginnings of Closed, a lot of our processes have been clean and green since the early 1980s. Long before the concept of sustainability became an (important!) trend. A good starting point, but nothing to rest on. Another thing we take as a given is social responsibility. It’s extremely important to us to be fair. Ever since our beginnings in 1978.”Tell us more about your brand philosophy and what you stand for… “Contemporary design and uncompromising quality – that has been Closed’s mission since it was founded in 1978. We’re the company with a unique creative DNA drawing heavily on its own European heritage – French imagination, Italian craftsmanship and German tradition. Influences that have left their mark and have come to define each and every one of our products. In partnership with teams of international experts, Closed now produces collections for both women and men: ready-to-wear, footwear, accessories and, of course, jeans. All produced with care and minimal environmental impact, under fair conditions and in compliance with the strictest ecological standards. Because, as we mentioned, sustainability has always been one of Closed’s key values.” Where did the journey of the brand start?“Closed was founded by Marithé and Francois Girbaud in France in 1978 as a denim brand – with the goal to produce high-quality jeans in Italy. Today, every pair of Closed jeans is still 100% made in Italy.” You’ve got a lot to be proud of. But what’s your favourite achievement? “We are very proud of our eco-denim line A BETTER BLUE. We developed it in 2018 together with two of our long-standing denim partners in Italy. A BETTER BLUE jeans are made in Italy using sustainable materials, eco-friendly dyeing methods and gentle washing techniques. In the production process for each pair of A BETTER BLUE jeans, considerable amounts of water, chemicals and electricity are saved – without compromising our signature high quality. All A BETTER BLUE jeans are climate-neutral products.” And what are you working on at the moment?“We have already switched from conventional to more eco-friendly materials and techniques for many of our products – for example, by increasing the volume of organic cotton in use, by using recycled materials (e.g. cotton, nylon, wool, cashmere), vegetable-tanned leather and plant-based dye. Whenever possible, we are introducing even more sustainable fabrics and techniques. We are also looking into innovative solutions towards a circular economy.” What’s your biggest challenge on the roadmap of improvements?“It’s very important to us to keep our high standards – in terms of quality and fashion. Sometimes, this can be more difficult when using sustainable materials or techniques. We have experimented with several plant-based dyes, for example, until we found one with great colour fastness.”It must make it all worth it when you get great feedback. What’s the best feedback you’ve had?
“We are lucky to receive a lot of nice feedback from our customers, but it’s always especially great when they tell us about their Closed jeans that they bought decades ago and still love to wear!”What do customers value most about your brand?“The high quality of our products. Our style hits the spot between contemporary and timeless and our sustainable and fair ethos. (At least we hope so!)” Any tips for more sustainable shopping? “We recommend thinking about every purchase carefully. Ask yourself: will I wear this garment 10, 20, 30 times? Will I still love it next year? Is it easy to combine? It’s simply not sustainable to buy clothes you’re not going to wear as the seasons and years go by.”
The fashion industry is trapped in a broken cycle because trends come and go at breakneck speed, creating stress and waste for brands, people, and natural resources. Fashion is such an important part of our lives (naturally!), but sadly, it’s also a significant contributor to the climate crisis, because of this, we must build a smarter fashion industry.The carbon footprint of the fashion industry was 4% of the global total in 2018 (McKinsey & Company and Global Fashion Agenda). This equals the combined annual footprint of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. It is predicted that over the next decade, beyond measures already in place, the industry’s carbon dioxide emissions will likely rise to an annual volume growth rate of 2.7% (McKinsey & Company and Global Fashion Agenda).At Otrium, our philosophy is that a fashion item that’s produced as a creative passion for humans, using materials extracted from earth, shouldn't collect dust in a warehouse or end up in landfill. We’d love to see a future where every clothing item produced is worn, and we’re working with hundreds of brand partners to achieve this.. Through our brand partnerships, we aim to reduce the overall amount of waste in the industry and follow a more circular approach. Since the industrial revolution, the fashion industry has been dominated by a one-way, linear model of production and consumption, raw materials are collected, transformed into short lived products, and then thrown away. Currently, approximately one in every ten items of clothing produced, or more than $200 billion worth, stay unsold, sitting in warehouses. Fashion and the freedom of self expression that clothing offers us, is not to be wasted. We’re here to change the status quo. We believe that fashion’s linear ‘take-make-waste’ model can be transformed into a circular approach that is restorative and regenerative by design. To help diminish the take-make-waste pattern, we are attempting to close the loop. As an industry with inherent waste, one of which has such a large impact on people and the environment, we want to make it our responsibility to start by closing the loop. It’s time to design out waste:Circularity or the circular economy is a system of closed loops in which raw materials, components and products loose as little value as possible renewable energy sources are used, and systems thinking is used. Much like the circle shape, the garments and products are put back into the cycle of the industry, rather than ending up in landfill sites or disregarded as waste. This is a purpose we care about at Otrium. Today, consumers care more about what they buy and how it will impact people and the environment. Our own research found that ⅓ of our customers are ‘Sustainable Shoppers’. When shopping at Otrium, these shoppers can be reassured that we are working towards a more circular future for fashion. Let’s be the solution, let’s become circular. Read more about our impact here: undefinedundefinedundefinedundefined