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business Podcast product Retail sustainability

Christopher Raeburn: How to scale circularity

There is so much opportunity in being a big business that there’s no excuse for not doing the right thing, says Christopher Raeburn comparing his British-born Raeburn brand with the global scale of Timberland, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast. 

Raeburn has been creative director at the latter since late 2018, where he says he is focusing on putting responsible, innovative design at the centre of its strategy. But it’s through his work and experience for the smaller Raeburn business that he’s able to do so, he explains. 

“One of the ways I’ve always looked at Raeburn is almost like a Remora – those small fish that clean sharks… sometimes they can clean the teeth and everything like that. I think it’s a really interesting analogy, because by swimming alongside sometimes those big big fish in the ocean, A) you have the opportunity to clean them, and that’s exciting because they want to be cleaned. B) you have the opportunity to talk to them a little bit and then maybe you can start to really steer them. And if they want to be steered and it’s a really good partnership then you’re going to go in the right direction together,” he says. 

Raeburn, which was founded in 2009, has built up its business focused on three key areas that all come under the circularity header: reduced, remade and recycled. But that was the case long before sustainability itself became a “trend”. 

“I never really set out to start a responsible company. It was more a company that started from common sense. And it fascinates me, as I say, that there is all of this stuff out there. And why can’t we reuse and remake it before we even need to buy anything new,” Raeburn notes.

Join us as we also explore why scaling such a model is essential for the future of our industry, how much opportunity is coming down the pipeline from what we currently consider trash, and the role business has to play in education today.

Listen here: Entale | Spotify |  Apple Podcasts | Android Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more. 

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e-commerce Editor's pick social media

Cannes Lions 2018: Glossier on how digital allows for individual connections at scale

Glossier
Glossier

Long-established legacy brands should do away with market studies and focus groups, says Glossier president and COO Henry Davis, and instead leverage digital technology to ask questions at scale.

Speaking on stage at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this week, he said instead of getting a handful of consumers in a room with double-mirrors, they should be creating “pockets of intimacy” with individuals or the subgroups they exist in online.

“In 2018 you have the ability to ask questions at scale.. By changing the channel you can change the offering to suit the consumer of today. So many legacy brands have gotten lazy on these channels and just keep reproducing… We’re seeing increasingly they’re realizing they need to know their customer.”

At the crux of the direct-to-consumer beauty brand’s success, is this focus on maintaining a continuous conversation with consumers from the get-go, he explained.

Since its inception as beauty blog Into the Gloss in 2012, founder Emily Weiss tapped into a fanbase to understand what elements would make a dream product – from consistency to color range. This helped inform the launch of Glossier and its first batch of cult products. It then quickly catapulted the brand as the one to watch among the Gen Z generation.

That collaborative nature now seeps into every consumer-facing aspect of the brand, from how well one of its products photographs, to what influencers it features on its popular Instagram feed, Davis explained.

Inspiration for new products or campaigns always come from an amalgamation of channels and references, but one of the first questions the brand asks itself, is: “If this was an Instagram post, what would the comments on it be?”

Content, Davis believes, should always ask a question, thus creating a “beautiful virtuous circle” to engage people with. The brand even does traditional outdoor advertising for that reason. The analog nature of a billboard, he explains, works perfectly for the brand because it targets younger consumers who themselves are content creators. Putting a billboard up is not the end of the project, but the beginning of a conversation – it allows fans to share it in their own way, he added.

Such is the importance of content – beyond the long-standing popularity of Into the Gloss and its Instagram page – that David said the next step is to vertically integrate the funnel of communications, which is currently owned by social media companies.

The only way to build a brand, he said, is to take it one step further and own more of the customer journey. Ultimately, he feels, the stronger the relationship, the stronger the loyalty. “Customers need to be stakeholders, they need to be a part of the creating of the product and eventually, sales,” he noted.

During the conversation, Davis also talked about how being a direct-to-consumer brand allows for the R&D team to work at its own pace, without the pressures or constraints of being rushed by a retail partner. This has the immense benefit of enabling the company to be more creative and make decisions based solely on the customer, he expained.

It is with that mindset that the brand has also opened its first retail store in Los Angeles, where a third of the space is dedicate to the “Canyon” room, an experiential space that replicates Arizona’s Antelope Canyon, complete with desert sounds that customers can immerse themselves in. This goes against the long-established brick-and-mortar rule of products per square footage but, as Davis said: “By not trying to sell things, you end up selling things.”

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Editor's pick Startups sustainability technology

Unmade: the London start-up ‘publishing’ clothing on-demand

Unmade

For those in London this festive season, there’s a pop-up shop in Covent Garden worth taking the time to visit. Unmade, as it’s called, is tucked down an unimposing side street off the main piazza. Away from the street entertainers and busy Christmas shoppers, it’s a minimal showcase of a knitwear brand currently considered one of London’s most disruptive start-ups.

Sweaters, scarves and a full-sized industrial knitting machine are on display. You can’t walk away with an item there and then, but you can use iPads to design your own and have it made especially for you thereafter.

And that’s the USP. The name “Unmade” comes from the fact no garment is finished until you, the shopper, come and complete it.

Born through frustration at the fashion industry’s stagnant approach to mass-consumption, it’s about bespoke, personalised knitwear, produced on-demand, yet at an industrial scale. Think of it as a 3D printer for fashion, yet using the same machines that make up the $200bn knitwear market worldwide.

Head on over to Forbes to read my interview with co-founder Ben Alun-Jones.