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Conscious Series: So Good To Wear

"Sustainability means for me that we have to give back to the earth more than we take."

15 MAY 2022
Otrium continually works towards the  mission that all clothing should be worn. We do this by helping to eliminate unsold inventory and using  technology and data to change the way clothing is created and sold. 
On our journey towards a smarter, more sustainable fashion industry, we’ve teamed up with Good On You, the leading source of fashion sustainability ratings. We’ve used their know-how to highlight brands on our own platform that go the extra mile to be more sustainable, which helps our customers make more informed shopping choices. 
Using Good On You’s data, we’ve introduced the Otrium Conscious filter. And now we’re speaking to conscious-rated brands carried by Otrium  to find out more about their approach towards sustainability. This week, we chatted to Eric Otten, CEO of cashmere brand So Good To Wear, who believes that ethical fashion should be the rule instead of the exception. 
So what does sustainability mean to you? 
“People have always thought we could  take something inexhaustible from our earth, to drive  mass consumption and economic growth. Unfortunately, the reality is the opposite. Sustainability means that we have to give back more to the earth than we take” 
Tell us more about your brand. 
“Cashmere without compromises sums it up. We redesign the production process of cashmere with new and restored values. It’s a more conscious and personal process.” 
What’s your role… and how did you get there? 
“As CEO of the company, I have to be a farmer for our Nepalese business and at the same time a fashion specialist for our western business. I bring those two worlds together, always with consideration of our vision and goals.” 
What’s your career background and when did you start working on creating a positive impact? 
“I have been in the fashion business for almost my whole career. I worked for private label brands and premium brands like Wolford. After five years, I truly realised there are no limitations for the welfare of our planet and so I joined the sustainable and fair trade brand MYoMY. From there, I moved to  So Good To Wear.” 
What achievement are you most proud of? 
“Putting the whole chain theory in practice! From our own cashmere goats to our spinnery, natural dying atelier and production in Nepal to our “slow fashion” models in the retail industry. The whole chain is fairtrade,  animal friendly and committed to rebuilding the economy in Nepal.”
What are you working on at the moment? 
“We are expanding our retail network internationally and expanding  our own cashmere goat herd in Nepal.”
What is the biggest challenge on your  roadmap of improvements? 
“The coordination between high demands in the western world and the limitations of the relatively primitive possibilities in Nepal. Some things take more time to realise in Nepal – time we sometimes don’t have.”
What’s the best feedback you’ve ever received from customers? 
“I have never worn a more comfortable piece of clothing than my So Good To Wear sweater – it’s physical and emotional.”
What do customers value most about the brand and products? 
“It’s high “slow” fashion without compromises, made from the finest quality cashmere, fully fairtrade, sustainable and animal friendly”
Who inspires you and why? 
“Stella McCartney – it became a movement of a luxury fashion brand built on sustainability.” 
What’s the most important aspect you keep in mind when shopping for more sustainable fashion? 
“I ask: is the brand really concerned about sustainability or is it a form of “greenwashing”?”
Do you have a quote you live by? 
“Without action, we only have words.” 
What’s a quick change that people could make in terms of being more sustainable? 
“Actually, that is very easy! Start changing small and easy things in your life because it all helps: take your bike, not your car, don’t let the water run when you brush your teeth, don’t throw away food, put the light out in rooms you're not in, wash only a full machine and use biological soap, throw waste in a bin, not on the street, don’t eat meat every day and many more things that make more difference than you think, in your head and for nature.”

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Conscious Series: CLOSED

We see a future where all clothing is worn, by eliminating unsold inventory and changing the way clothing is created and sold. On this journey towards a smarter fashion industry, we’ve teamed up with Good On You – the leading source for fashion brand sustainability ratings – to highlight brands on our platform that go the extra mile to be more sustainable. We are looking to highlight brands in a positive way and help our customers make more informed choices.Good On You pulls all brand information together and uses expert analysis to give each brand an easy-to-understand score. Otrium’s conscious filter is a great way to help our members to make more conscious choices. We’ve been taking the time to chat to the conscious-rated brands on our platform about sustainability, a circular economy and more. Dive in. First up, we chat to the team from Closed – a contemporary design brand that creates quality looks to stand the test of time. The word “sustainability” is thrown around a lot. What does it mean to you?“Sustainability has always been something we care about at Closed. Even before it was a buzzword or a trend – because, of course, we care about our planet. Always have, always will. We’re continuously making our processes as sustainable as possible – with our own eco-denim line A BETTER BLUE, sustainable materials and short transport routes (85% of our products are made in Europe, close to our main markets). We have been working for decades with most of our production partners. We are a member of the Fair Wear Foundation. We try to lower our carbon footprint where we can – and we care about animals. We stopped using fur in 2014 and do not use angora or down. We use recycled paper for our packaging and most of our printed goods – and would never throw away or destroy unsold Closed items.Step by step, we’re taking Closed towards a greener future. Our goal is to produce our collections with less of an environmental impact, while never compromising our high quality. Fortunately, these two values often go hand in hand. By making high quality our priority ever since the beginnings of Closed, a lot of our processes have been clean and green since the early 1980s. Long before the concept of sustainability became an (important!) trend. A good starting point, but nothing to rest on. Another thing we take as a given is social responsibility. It’s extremely important to us to be fair. Ever since our beginnings in 1978.”Tell us more about your brand philosophy and what you stand for… “Contemporary design and uncompromising quality – that has been Closed’s mission since it was founded in 1978. We’re the company with a unique creative DNA drawing heavily on its own European heritage – French imagination, Italian craftsmanship and German tradition. Influences that have left their mark and have come to define each and every one of our products. In partnership with teams of international experts, Closed now produces collections for both women and men: ready-to-wear, footwear, accessories and, of course, jeans. All produced with care and minimal environmental impact, under fair conditions and in compliance with the strictest ecological standards. Because, as we mentioned, sustainability has always been one of Closed’s key values.” Where did the journey of the brand start?“Closed was founded by Marithé and Francois Girbaud in France in 1978 as a denim brand – with the goal to produce high-quality jeans in Italy. Today, every pair of Closed jeans is still 100% made in Italy.” You’ve got a lot to be proud of. But what’s your favourite achievement? “We are very proud of our eco-denim line A BETTER BLUE. We developed it in 2018 together with two of our long-standing denim partners in Italy. A BETTER BLUE jeans are made in Italy using sustainable materials, eco-friendly dyeing methods and gentle washing techniques. In the production process for each pair of A BETTER BLUE jeans, considerable amounts of water, chemicals and electricity are saved – without compromising our signature high quality. All A BETTER BLUE jeans are climate-neutral products.” And what are you working on at the moment?“We have already switched from conventional to more eco-friendly materials and techniques for many of our products – for example, by increasing the volume of organic cotton in use, by using recycled materials (e.g. cotton, nylon, wool, cashmere), vegetable-tanned leather and plant-based dye. Whenever possible, we are introducing even more sustainable fabrics and techniques. We are also looking into innovative solutions towards a circular economy.” What’s your biggest challenge on the roadmap of improvements?“It’s very important to us to keep our high standards – in terms of quality and fashion. Sometimes, this can be more difficult when using sustainable materials or techniques. We have experimented with several plant-based dyes, for example, until we found one with great colour fastness.”It must make it all worth it when you get great feedback. What’s the best feedback you’ve had?  “We are lucky to receive a lot of nice feedback from our customers, but it’s always especially great when they tell us about their Closed jeans that they bought decades ago and still love to wear!”What do customers value most about your brand?“The high quality of our products. Our style hits the spot between contemporary and timeless and our sustainable and fair ethos. (At least we hope so!)” Any tips for more sustainable shopping?  “We recommend thinking about every purchase carefully. Ask yourself: will I wear this garment 10, 20, 30 times? Will I still love it next year? Is it easy to combine? It’s simply not sustainable to buy clothes you’re not going to wear as the seasons and years go by.”

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