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The Otrium Story and why we want all clothing to be worn

When we started Otrium, we didn’t just want to create a company, we wanted to start a movement. We wanted every item of clothing produced to be worn.

9 SEPTEMBER 2021
When we started Otrium, we didn’t just want to create a company, we wanted to start a movement. We wanted every item of clothing produced to be worn.
Before Otrium we’d never given much thought to unsold inventory in the fashion industry, why would we? Even now, with a drive towards greater sustainability, it’s still an uncomfortable topic in fashion circles because around 1 in 10 items made are never sold. We think that’s such a waste – of all the creative energy, the hard work and the investment that goes into producing great fashion.
Max and I started to ask ourselves what happens to unsold inventory. We were already on an entrepreneurial path, building ecomms tools, web apps, with a side hustle - a cool (though we say it ourselves!) sweater brand. Although the brand was doing well, we were stuck with unsold inventory. We realised if we had this problem, we weren’t the only ones. For our little business, this was a cash issue, never mind the waste.
We did some research to find out how we could shift our own stock. We learned that every fashion brand struggles with unsold inventory and that all the current solutions were legacy players with flawed models.
There are stock buyers who buy in bulk at usually less than the price of production. Then there are flash sales, where customers are pushed into a sub-optimal ecommerce experience, often having to wait for their orders. And finally, there are physical outlet centres, often out of town with a high level of investment required so out of the reach for smaller brands. Max and I realised the market was ripe for disruption.
The industry needed a better solution that offered better margins and more control for brands, one that could be solved with technology. Brands can get more value out of their previous collections and customers can have a really good experience. There’s where Otrium comes in.
We are a managed marketplace where brands can open an online outlet store. They have full control over pricing, merchandising, visibility and placement. This is especially important in the fashion industry where the relationship brands have with their customers is so important. Fashion is a reflection of who you are and personal style is intrinsically linked to the brands you wear. We respect that dynamic.
Otrium tech-enables brands so they get the most value from their unsold inventory by smartly connecting every item of clothing to customers in our community. Meanwhile our dynamic pricing engine optimises conversion while refurbishment stations ensures tired, crumpled or unlabeled items are saleable.
As for our customers, they get a fantastic deal. On our app they can discover fashion-gems they might have missed, at really great prices but without compromising on the experience. Otrium is the online equivalent of a physical outlet store which has been superpowered with technical capabilities. We have well over 200 brands on our app, from mid price to luxury, from contemporary to sportswear, from local heroes to global names. In every market we take the global names then we add local hero brands to create an authentic, relevant experience for our customers.
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.
Words by Milan Daniels, Co-Founder

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Otrium’s B2B platform Oware™

Our tech-enabled insights help over 200 brands with their outlet stores on the Otrium app sell their unsold inventory.Any brand of any size can set up their own store on Otrium in a matter of days. The brand partners can then run and optimise their own outlet store with ease. Otrium’s managed marketplace gives brands full control over pricing, merchandising, visibility and placement.New features continue to be rolled out to serve brands’ needs. The Otrium team is continually thinking ahead to find ways to add value for brand partners and build the best possible end-of-season outlet for brands. The features go towards fixing, once and for all, the costly economic and environmental challenge of unsold inventory.
We’re incredibly lucky that the O-team is made up of such a brilliant bunch of enterprising minds. Sure, we knew everyone was awesome at what they did day to day, but we wanted to give the Tech and Product team the chance to really let their imaginations run free on the challenge of actioning our purpose; making sure every item of clothing is worn. So, we hosted a hackathon! We threw down the gauntlet to the Tech and Product team worldwide, asking them to submit their innovative ideas for improved automation and efficiency; from upgrades to the app and enhancements to the platform, to fine-tuning the systems that we as a team use behind the scenes. And, the results were even more amazing than we expected. We had participants from 15 different countries bringing a whole host of forward-thinking concepts, which we whittled down to 9. Each participant then joined a team behind one of these concepts. The day started with impassioned pitches of the initial ideas from the team leaders to the entire hackathon. The teams then broke off into groups for the day and let the creativity commence. Everyone brought their own unique strengths to the table, from researching consumer behaviour to dreaming up demonstrations. As the day drew to a close and the clock counted its final minutes, the teams rushed to perfect their presentations. The moment of truth arrived, each team pitched their idea to a panel of executive team members. They heard an assortment of excellent ideas, from improvements in sharability to the gamification of everyday processes. Co-founder and Co-CEO Max Klijnstra was blown away by “the enthusiasm, creativity, and passion behind every pitch”. The panel then had the unenviable task of choosing their favourite three solutions out of 9 top-shelf pitches. The top three were: 3. Team Freaky Octopus (Sumit, Kyriakos, and Lucia) with a novel review system.2. Team 🐝2 🐝 (Jayathu, Chamara, Violeta, Alex, and Sameera) with an incredibly handy web app.1. Team O-404 not found it (Akshaya, Hicham, Paul, Danielle, Alex, Lucas, and Francisco) took first place with their innovative share functionality. Each team won a mixture of Amazon and Otrium credits, as well as the opportunity to develop their unique solutions to be incorporated into the Otrium offering. Needless to say, the hackathon was a huge success, and we're already looking forward to hosting our next one, rolling it out across the entire company to unearth more ground-breaking thinking from the O-team. A huge thanks to everyone involved, until next time ✌️.
As we wave goodbye to 2021, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank our brilliant members, partners, investors, and of course, the magnificent O-team. Thank you for helping us achieve so many amazing things this year and helping us charge forward in our mission of making sure that all clothing is worn.We’ve enjoyed soaring growth in the past 12 months; adding 155 new faces to the team across the globe, rapidly expanding our team to an assortment of exciting new locations, all whilst remaining a tightly-knit bunch! This growth, propelled by ourundefined, enabled us to massively scale our operations worldwide. We opened in a number of new territories, including the USA, and added a state-of-the-art UK distribution centre, which will allow us to help even more fabulous brands match their end-of-season pieces with fashion lovers, launching us forward into a future without fashion waste.Innovation is at the heart of everything we do, and 2021 showed no exception; our tech, product and engineering teams developed a vast range of cutting-edge technological solutions for both our B2B and B2C marketplaces; such as our smart-pricing functionality, real-time insight dashboard, and expanding our Data-Made testing capabilities, to name a few. We’re excited to launch forward in the new year with further innovations to make the entire Otrium experience ever-more dynamic. In order to help us fully commit to making a more positive impact, we hired a brand new sustainability team! They hit the ground running by carrying out truly informative impact reports that will help us chart our environmental impact on a yearly basis. We teamed up with Good On You and introduced the Conscious filter to help our customers make more informed choices. As the leading sources for fashion brand sustainability ratings, we’ve been able to highlight brands on Otrium that go the extra mile to be more sustainable.Of course, none of this would have been possible without our fabulous brand partners, to which we've added many new exciting names this year. Nor would it have been possible without our fantastic, fashion-loving members, all 3.5 million of them.Otrium’s made some monumental steps forward in 2021, but we now look on to 2022 with even bigger plans to help achieve our purpose of making sure every piece of clothing produced is worn. Thank you for being a part of our growth journey, we’re looking forward to sharing with you more exciting news in the new year!
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