A French way to avoid overproduction and deliver sustainable products...
Have you heard of the Brand “ASPHALTE” from France? Yes? That’s great. No? You should. There are numerous ways to reduce waste, to produce less and therefore be more sustainable. The one that I found from this brand I find really inspiring and surely inviting to copy and scale.
Imagine you want to dress a lot of men with sustainable clothes. You estimate about what they wear, what they want and how long it should last. But then, you wonder if your assumptions are right and you think about a way to ask your potential customers. Of course – the whole Silicon Valley does this so why not do this here, on the Internet. So you set up a Website and start asking people about their style, their preferences, their ways of using clothes, what they like more – a shirt or a pullover, aso.
And here we are at the entrance door of “ASPHALTE”. I liked their approach and therefore ordered a T-Shirt. I’ll receive it in February and will of course post the look and feel, but let’s go back to the process. Before entering my order “ASPHALTE” asks me a lot of interesting questions. You know, like the Game “This or That?”, like Hoodie or Sweater, Boots or Loafer, Jeans or Flats, Parka or Coat, chest pockets or none, aso. And so, I make my choices and by doing so not only give them an idea of my preferences but also on which kind of products they should focus and in which order. That is super smart and reminds me very much to the Brand “Lulusar” from Pakistan – they are as well deeply connected to their customers via Social Media, test their ideas and only finish design and production for what’s actually desired and has a high chance for sale.
You could argue that they only turned the traditional buyer of fashion business into the end-consumer and in a way that’s right. One difference is though that this system is mature enough to handle ten-thousands of these clients, the “long-tail-strategy” of Amazon so to say, adapted for the fashion business. That is the beauty of today’s technology – you can scale complexity unlike ever before and not get mad over it. With this in mind they not only by-pass a lot of middlemen but also can design better, source better and produce more sustainable. And, with regards to their financial situation, like on Kickstarter campaigns, the pre-payments give them enough cash to handle the business. As many have seen in this crisis, cash is king when the going gets tough.
There is just one issue that has clearly room for improvement – the lead-times. I understand that for every order batch they have to first ask the audience, then design, then prototype, then have the order take-in and then place the order in the production facility, produce and deliver…puh – that’s quite a process. I am sure for margin reasons they need bigger orders to produce but that must be improved. I cannot imagine that these principles are acceptable for all customers. If you are cautious about the environment and like the style of the Brand, then maybe you are willing to wait. But Fashion is about impatience, trends, now, and so the next thing to master is probably the supply chain.
Mass producing low order sizes, small batches and still keep a reasonable margin for both, the brand and the supplier is the talk of the town in manufacturing conferences and so it is for “ASPHALTE”. Only when you have the production fully embedded into the digital process and have the back-end organization as well optimized as logistics, design, social media and data-analytics, will this model thrive and be used more and more. And only then, on scale, our industry changes – one thread at a time. If you like to learn more on how to mass produce complex and small orders and not drown in cost, visit my webpage or drop me an email on Info@joachimhensch.com
Enjoy the week