Otrium names Zuhairah Washington as Chief Executive Officer
Zuhairah Washington will oversee global operations and expansion. Co-Founder Klijnstra will drive marketing strategy and impact goals.
27 JULY 2023
Otrium, the digital fashion outlet tackling the industry’s growing challenge of excess inventory, has appointed Zuhairah Washington as its new global CEO. Max Klijnstra, co-founder, will serve as Chief Sustainability & Growth Officer, aligning business growth with the outlet's mission to connect its millions of customers with the world’s leading premium brands to ensure that all clothing that is produced is worn.
After joining the company as President and Chief Operating Officer in 2021, Washington will drive international growth and oversee all aspects of Otrium’s global operations – product, engineering, sales, marketing, logistics, expansion, legal, finance, and people functions. Under her leadership, Otrium will focus on charting a path to profitability in Europe and further scaling growth in the US. In 2022, Otrium’s US members grew at a speed of 500%.
Washington says, “I feel extremely fortunate to lead a company that provides consumers of all socioeconomic backgrounds with access to the world’s top premium fashion brands at affordable price points in pursuit of a larger mission - ensuring that all clothing that is produced is worn. As one of the few African-American female CEOs in tech leading a global fashion marketplace, I’m especially proud that we are building the next phase of Otrium with an executive leadership team that is 40% women, of which 100% are women of color.”
Otrium partners with fashion brands to fix the costly environmental and economic challenges of excess inventory by offering a seamless way to open their own digital outlet channel. Otrium handles the complete e-commerce experience, from photography to fulfilment and shipping and after care. The company uses machine learning and proprietary technology to determine merchandising and surface product discovery. Otrium currently offers over 300 fashion brands on its platform.
Co-founder, Max Klijnstra, will drive Otrium’s marketing strategy and sustainability goals, further embedding its mission across the business. “Globally, an estimated 92 million tonnes of textile waste is created each year and ends up in landfills. Otrium was founded to help reverse this trend. We envision a future where every piece of clothing produced is worn. As Otrium’s business grows, we will continue to help decrease the number of garments ending up in landfills. I want to keep personally driving this type of change forward for Otrium and for the industry,” addedKlijnstra.
Co-founder Milan Daniels will continue to scale and foster the platform’s global brand partnerships, including Tommy Hilfger, Donna Karan New York, Filippa K, Scotch & Soda. Daniels says, "Max taking on the role of Chief Sustainability & Growth Officer will enable us to bring these topics more into focus across the entire business. Combined with Zuhairah – who is an exceptional leader, one that shares mine and Max’s ambitions for Otrium – taking the role of CEO, and each of us assuming our dedicated roles, the executive team has never been better placed to make Otrium one of the world’s leading end-to-end outlet fashion platforms.”
Otrium serves over 20 markets across Europe and the US from three logistics hubs in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and the United States. At the heart of the company’s success is a diverse and global team, representing over 30 nationalities.
In June 2023, Otrium published a first-of-its-kind comprehensive analysis of the avoided carbon emissions and waste of modern off-price business models with the support of climate tech start-up, Vaayu. To explore the findings, experience Otrium’s interactive 2022 Impact Report here.
Otrium, the leading digital outlet transforming how consumers buy end-of-season fashion, debuts on Fast Company’s prestigious 2023 undefined after a year of explosive growth. Each year, the American magazine’s editors search the world for the perfect blend of the next generation of trailblazers and decade-defining disruptors. We’re solidifying our rising star status – joining the ranks of disruptors like Airbnb, Ralph Lauren, Apple & more.Otrium is changing how fashion is created and sold, challenging industry norms around overconsumption and overproduction. The outlet with a mission wants a future where every item of clothing produced is worn. Otrium empowers over 300 brands to responsibly sell excess inventory, connecting them to a community of five million consumers – and counting. Otrium has seen revenue jump of 1000% year over year and members grow at a speed of 500%.
“The conversation around what to do with excess inventory in fashion has never been more timely or critical,” says Zuraihah Scott Washington, President and Chief Operating Officer. “Otrium is eliminating unsold inventory and changing the way fashion is created and sold. Through our mission to transform the end-of-season segment through technology, we’re flipping the traditional fashion industry model that relies heavily on seasonality, trend, physical retail, or stock buyers. With every item we sell, we divert textile waste away from countries like Ghana and Chile which often end up burned or in landfills.” Otrium’s free, members-only platform allows consumers to unlock exclusive access to high-quality brands like Belstaff, Mara Hoffman, APL, All Saints and Everlane for a fraction of the price – while educating consumers on the positive impact of their choices. “Our platform elevates the off-price experience for discerning brands and consumers alike,” says Washington. “Consumers want thoughtful solutions and options amidst increasing economic and climate uncertainty.” “57 percent of our community tell us they prioritize buying off-season instead of new off the rack,” elaborates Washington. “Otrium is enabling new consumer shopping experiences by offering what we like to call ‘second chance’ vs. second hand inventory seen in resale models.”
No item is left behind. Otrium ultimately connects its brand partners with preferred stock buyers and local charities for the small amount of pieces that can’t be sold through its consumer platform, optimizing a partner’s recovery value.“The ocean of possibility is blue – and we know Otrium is driving the change,” says Milan Daniels, co-founder, speaking from New York City. “While off-price fashion sales are still predominantly taking place offline, the market represents a $200 billion opportunity. By 2030, we expect our playground to be worth as much as $480 billion – and no new clothing in landfills.”In 2022 alone, Otrium matched over 5 million garments with new owners.
As of March 2023, 53% of Otrium’s team is women – including half of our executive leadership. Our team is a vibrant mix of perspectives, passion, and diversity – spanning multiple continents and cultures. We're celebrating two themes that aim to empower women globally: The official 2023 International Women's Day goal to #EmbraceEquity and the United Nations' #DigitALL campaign that aims to foster innovation and technology for gender equality. Both themes highlight the need for inclusive and transformative technology and digital education – topics at the heart of Otrium. We aim not only to create a future where all clothing is worn, but also a future where equality is at the forefront and all people have access to the resources they need. Ultimately, we want a future where these statistics are no longer true:• Only 63 per cent of women are using the Internet in 2022 compared to 69 per cent of men (ITU, Nov22) • By 2050, 75% of jobs will be related to STEM areas. Yet today, women hold just 22% of positions in artificial intelligence, to name just one. (WEF Report) • A study of 51 countries revealed 38 per cent of women had personally experienced online violence. (2022 Gender Snapshot Report)
We’re thrilled to spotlight some of the women making a difference at Otrium through technology, fashion, and beyond. A big THNAK YOU 👏🏻 to all 100+ women behind Otirum.
Outlet fashion platform Otrium measures avoided carbon emissions and waste with carbon-calculating software VaayuExperience the report at undefinedOtrium, a purpose-driven fashion outlet platform, publishes a comprehensive analysis of the avoided carbon emissions and waste of modern off-price business models with the support of Vaayu, the climate tech start-up. Vaayu used its proprietary AI and machine learning technology, alongside its team of in-house Life Cycle Assessment experts, to gather insights from over 45 fashion brands (both available on and off Otrium) and data from almost five million fashion products live on Otrium to calculate carbon at a granular science-based level. The research explores the broader role that modern outlet business models like Otrium can play in contributing to a more circular fashion industry by providing an alternative to waste streams for unsold stock. It represents a new contribution to understanding the end-of-life phase of fashion products as one of the largest data sets on unsold stock practices. In 2022, based on these calculations, Otrium prevented 6,496 tonnes of carbon emissions (CO₂e) and 104 tonnes of waste by providing fashion brands with a profitable solution to clear unsold inventory, compared to an alternative scenario in which off-price businesses like Otrium do not exist. That’s the equivalent of 2,219 round-trip flights between Amsterdam to NYC for one passenger (undefined) or throwing away 130,524 pairs of jeans (Vaayu database, undefined).Otrium partners with over 400 fashion brands like Filippa K, Mara Hoffman, Everlane, Outerknown and CLOSED to reach new consumers for every item of clothing produced and extend the life of their collections. Now, with the help of Vaayu, Otrium has access to live carbon tracking at a product and brand level, enabling the business to monitor across transactions and use this data to drive real-time decision-making around impact. Envisioning a future where all clothing produced is worn, and no new clothing ends up in landfills, Otrium aims to empower its brand partners to take a more demand-focused approach to production and innovative ways to reach new consumers. Through data-sharing and customer insights, Otrium encourages more accurate forecasting. To support its five million members globally in making informed choices outside trend and seasonal models, Otrium is working with sustainable and ethical brand rating organisation, Good On You, which benchmarks the brands on Otrium based on their social and environmental impact. Otrium also revalues damaged items like returns, repairs them and feeds them back into the cycle.Says Co-Founder, Max Klijnstra, “We founded Otrium to play a part in reshaping how fashion is produced and ultimately sold. Our business model is a first step in solving the growing challenge of unsold inventory. As a next step, the results from our Otrium 2022 Impact Report will inform and strengthen our sustainability strategy and climate targets. We will also use it to transparently communicate our progress with our community, brand partners and the fashion industry. At Otrium, we will be working steadily towards improving our impact one step at a time.” Says Marlot Kiveron, Head of Sustainability at Otrium, “Our ultimate goal is to have a net positive impact. This means giving back more than we take through our business model, and operations. Creating impact is constant. The goal of this report is to measure our progress and to stay accountable by sharing this externally. Understanding the impact of both our business model as well as our operations in real-time, helps us to accelerate positive change.”Says Namrata Sandhu, Co-Founder and CEO of Vaayu, “We’re at an inflection point when it comes to the climate and new research shows that we’re currently not on track to keep global warming below 1.5C. Retailers have long been transitioning reactively; thinking about systems change and circularity, and wanting to truly understand and lower their impact. But Vaayu actually enables them to work proactively, by harnessing our generative AI and machine learning technology to calculate emissions in real-time, and then lowering them using these science-backed insights. Our work with Otrium is the first of its kind to investigate the carbon emission and waste saving potential of off-price business models.”To explore Otrium’s interactive 2022 Impact Report please click undefined.