Skunkfunk was born 20 years ago with sustainability in its DNA but no concrete tools nor knowledge to tackle its impacts. In 2010, after a global evaluation of our impacts with the help of Textile Exchange, we started adopting CSR objectives and KPI for all our supply chain. We first focused on converting our raw materials which are now 92% preferred fibers, compared to 8% in 2010. We were the first GOTS & OCS certified brand in Spain in 2015, after having certified most of suppliers. We then worked on eco-design, concretely zero-waste patterns, introducing a zero-waste capsule in every collection since then. In 2016, we partnered with a local garment collector, Koopera, for our in-store used garment collection program, and started developing post-consumer yarns in Spain. In 2017, we launched our Carbon Impact Calculator, in an effort to measure our reduction achievements towards carbon neutrality. Finally, in 2018, we joined FairTrade and actively engaged with Chetna, our organic farming cooperative in India, to reach maximum transparency in the sourcing of our organic cotton.
“ the real issue is over-consumption of textile, with the circular closet we want to tackle this.”
What made you decide to start a circular collection?
What makes sense at this point is to engage in alternative business models with the goal of increasing product use. Because whatever the impact reduction throughout the supply chain, if a product is out of use too fast, we are not tackling the real issue: the over-consumption of textile.
How does the rental service work?
Two different subscription packages are offered to customers, enabling them to choose from an updating selection of over 40 premium outfits. The first is a single, one-off monthly subscription, charged at €49, or a minimum 3-month deal which lowers the monthly price down to €39. All delivery and cleaning costs are included in these subscription prices. Logistics and customer interface are facilitated by a partnership with French startup Lizee.
The obvious downside of renting clothes is the back and forth movements of products from the renting platform to the end customers. However, as our carbon calculation tool shows, the transportation of goods from our warehouse to the final customer represents on average 2.2% of the total product carbon footprint. Raw materials, yarn and fabric preparation represents about 90% of our products carbon footprint. That is to say that even if we multiply the downstream transportation impact by the number of times a garment is rented out, the key is to keep that garment in use longer. If a garment is rented out five times for instance, its global footprint will increase by 11%. In other words, you would need to rent out a garment 45 times just to match the CO2 levels of producing just one extra piece of that garment.
I know you experimented with a zero-waste collection and this changed your design process. Did this new business model change the way your designers look at making the designs?
It does. Garment longevity becomes a concrete goal. We have garments having been rented out over 20 times in the past. Anything we design now has to meet this minimum objective.
Besides, we gain new valuable data about how our clothes are ageing, seeing how each fabric and design behave over time. We feedback this information back to our Design department for continuous improvement.
What was the biggest struggle to overcome in this new business model?
There are several hurdles to overcome. First of all, we are taking a risk as we are one of the first brand launching this service and there is uncertainty around how the market will respond.
For example, we have initially not developed a Spanish website as the renting markets are said to be much more mature in Northern Europe. It turns out we get even more visits from Southern Europe.
When does this business model become financially beneficial for SKFK?
This is a more of a long term strategic orientation than a short-term one. On paper, the subscription business model becomes profitable after 6 months of renting. In practice, we hope to become profitable by next year. The key is the number of times a garment is kept in rotation, meaning having the necessary demand and product durability. When revenues of selling new clothes go down sharply after 6 months, subscription revenues increase over time.
Are you planning to combine selling and renting or is your future plan to only rent out clothes?
Our vision for the future is that people only buy the clothes that they wear everyday day, and rent out all the rest. That leaves a strong potential for renting, as a good part of our looks are designed for special occasions, from a relaxed break-away to a formal work event.
With the circular closet SKFK takes a bold step into new ways of using fashion. Just like for example Mudjeans, Lena Fashion Library and Hulaaloop. Are you ready to change your businessmodel? And let me know if I can help you through MVO Nederland or the Dutch Circular Textile Valley.
For more information go to the website of SKFK
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