Sustainability in fashion has many dimensions. The choice of materials and production processes are probably the most obvious ones, but don’t forget about the impact of your go-to-market, distribution, and stock management.
Maybe you have heard the terms slow fashion and pre-ordering before. New business models are increasingly emerging in the industry, but what do they mean? And more importantly, how do you implement these for your brand? What are the challenges involved and how can you make it successful?
KEY TAKE-AWAYS ELLEN KEGELS
1. Slow fashion means slow in designing, producing, and consuming.
2. Pre-ordering can be used to go to the market fast and collect early customer feedback.
3. Open, honest and personal storytelling helps gain customers’ trust.
4. Connecting to people with the same vision helps you reach your goals.
5. Dare to take the plunge!
LN Knits was a pioneer in Belgium regarding slow fashion. Under the motto: “Looking good while doing good”, they produce and sell handmade, natural knitwear for women, kids, and home. Having a zero waste policy, using natural fibres, and providing their workers with fair wages and a day-care for their workers’ children, are only a part of what they do to be sustainable and honest.
LN Knits is a slow fashion brand in every part of the process: designing, producing, and consuming. At LN Knits it is all slowed down.
It starts with the designing process, which happens very slowly as designing a knitting collection takes a lot of time. By designing timeless classics that go well with your other pieces, they make sure their pieces never go out of style. The production is also not rushed. They take the time to teach their knitters the new collection and make sure there is no extreme pressure.
This way, they can ensure quality work being delivered. Lastly, the pieces are made to last a lifetime. By offering a free knit cleaning service, they ensure that the pieces they sell are well taken care of.
A new model that they are implementing at the moment is the pre-ordering model. They started implementing this model because ordering yarn and dyeing it takes a long time, but they also do not want any waste.
This makes for a difficult balance to decide how much they should produce. They produce the items but also order extra yarn. When launching the collection, they can see in the first 2 weeks how well the products are selling.
When the products are sold out, they enable pre-ordering. This way, customers can order the piece they want, and LN Knits can start the production of their pieces with the extra yarn they bought.
Customers will get their products 3 months later. When the product doesn’t sell as well as they thought and they don’t get to use the extra yarn, LN Knits sells it to their DIY-knit community. This ensures that they do not create any unnecessary waste.
Last year, they were coping with extreme delays as the factories were closed because of Covid-19. This forced them to launch a collection in August 2021 completely with the pre-order model.
The team of LN Knits was very thrilled to see that people still ordered their pieces even though they would have to wait a long time. This made them review their business model, and review how they can be even more slow and sustainable in the future.
The importance of storytelling
How were their launches with the pre-ordering model so successful?
LN Knits has a lot of loyal customers who really trust the brand, which is important when working with the pre-ordering model. LN Knits focuses on open and honest storytelling.
Because of their honesty and transparency in their production, customers trust them. They make their storytelling very personal by using personal branding from Ellen Kegels as their main form of communication. Again, this helps with customers’ trust.
A tip that Ellen Kegels gives is to show teasers during the designing and producing process. This way, people have the piece or collection already on their minds. When they see it again with the launch, it’s already top of mind.
FOMO, fear of missing out is an important part of your storytelling when using the pre-ordering model. People will have to feel like they are missing out by not pre-ordering your products.