This month, my colleague and I had the opportunity to attend the first ever Remode conference. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of speakers and content presented. There was a heavy focus on sustainability and radical transparency, which offer great opportunities for brands who have yet to successfully implement them.
Below are three important themes that were discussed throughout the conference:
Building a Sustainable Brand
Did you know that by 2048, we’ll have more plastic in the ocean than fish? Another disturbing fact: 35% of micro fiber pollution is from textiles. Sustainability has become more imperative than ever for those in the fashion industry, and brands like Reformation and Athleta are leading the way. Kathleen Talbot of Reformation, Nina Farran of Fashionkind and Sheila Shekar Pollak of Athleta shared the keys to building a sustainable brand:
Reformation’s DNA was founded on sustainability. According to VP of Operations Kathleen Talbot, the fashion brand was founded in 2009 and is challenging the status quo when it comes to substantiality. Unlike many of their competitors, the brand owns and operates its own factory and invests in green building infrastructure to minimize waste, water and energy footprints. If you’re interested in learning more about Reformation’s recycling, energy efficiency, e-commerce and environmental purchasing on its Sustainable Practices page.
Prior to Remode, I was unfamiliar with Fashionkind. The retailer curates and sells a mix of ethically produced and sustainable luxury products from around the world. Its mission is to reveal the fashion industry’s power to support human rights and minimize environment impact without sacrificing style. Nina Farran, Founder & CEO, highlighted just how important it is for brands to change the conversation around sustainable fashion. Farran explained that millennials demand transparency and many of her customers buy a product to become a part of a story.
Much like Reformation, sustainability is part of Athleta’s makeup. Sheila Shekar Pollak, CMO, shared Athleta’s 360 approach and one of their core values: Sustainability Sustains Us. Aside from being a purpose-driven brand, Pollak shared her goal for 2020: To have over 80% of Athleta’s products made from sustainable materials. Currently, the brand participates in fair trade, is LEED certified and 40% of its products are sustainable.
- Pioneering Radical Transparency
Following Allbirds’ presentation on Winning Over Shoppers with Sustainability and Comfort, Everlane’s Founder and CEO, Michael Preysman, spoke to the importance of radical transparency. Everlane is known for its modern essentials, made at the best factories, without traditional markups. Preysman’s recommendations for building a transparent brand are as follows:
- Customers must put pressure on retailers and brands to become more transparent.
- The #1 role of a physical store is still experience. Customers still want to try things on, see how they fit and how they feel.
- With very few sustainable fabrics to choose from, Everlane has made a commitment to its customers and the environment: No new plastic in its entire supply chain by 2021. The brand recently introduced the ReNew collection, incredibly warm outwear made from 3 million used plastic bottles.
- Everlane built its own Point of Sale system to ensure a seamless experience for the customer.
- Producing and offering a product and educating your customer on transparent pricing is key.
- “We have to change things if we want to leave this planet in a better place."
- Disrupting the Traditional Retail Model
We’ve heard time and time again how crucial it is for brands to redefine retail spaces and build more innovative shopping experiences. Charlie Cole of Samsonite and Luke Droulez of Parachute shared how both brands are continuously transforming and why making the transaction secondary has attributed to their success.
Samsonite’s Chief Commerce Officer, Charlie Cole, explained how customer expectations are changing – 10 years ago, you’d toss your luggage if something broke. Today, customers expect it to get fixed instantly, wherever they are in the world. According to Cole, “people want kick ass after sale service.” If a customer’s luggage breaks they have to go into the store, so how you use your brick and mortar is extremely important. In the eyes of Cole, any brand that has physical retail stores has a competitive advantage over its competition. When asked how Samsonite maintains its brand relevance, he explained how 6% of revenue is spent on marketing and the idea of a lifetime warranty is critical to its consumer.
Parachute offers a curated assortment of modern bedding and bath essentials for a more comfortable home. Luke Droulez, the brand’s CMO, described Parachute as an innovative brand who speaks a story and acts as a design service versus a wall of towels in a legacy housewares store. In turn, the company uses their retail experience as a mini focus group.
Here are a few unique things that Parachute does to stay one step ahead of its competition:
- The brand offers monogramming and embroidery events for its customers.
- The retailer partners with nearby restaurants and coffee shops to support local businesses.
- When opening a new store, the brand holds a house warming party and includes a free gift, drinks and snacks.
- Being smaller allows Parachute to remain flexible and nimble. All of its products are designed in Venice Beach and responsibly manufactured by expert craftspeople around the globe.
In a world where customers have an infinite number of brands and retail options to choose from, it’s important to stand for something unique, build trust through transparency, offer excellent post purchase service and continue to make strides towards a more sustainable future.