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Part 2: Otrium's Role

Our Purpose and Impact

15 DECEMBER 2021
Otrium was founded with the purpose that all clothing should be worn.
One in ten items made are never sold – this is not only a huge waste of the creativity and labour that goes into their production, but a waste of investment and natural resources. Founders, Milan and Max, wanted to change this.
We’re a purpose-driven, end-of-season fashion platform, developing technology and using data to match supply and demand within the fashion industry to reduce this impact. We’re changing the way fashion is created and sold through our technology which finds a match for every item on our platform, and then through our data, informs demand-based clothing creation. 
Fashion is trapped in a broken cycle of overproduction; creating stress and waste for brands, people, and natural resources. The industry is at a turning point, and thanks to technological advancements across the board, it’s the right time for us all to be pioneers of new and better solutions. Being purpose-led is at the core of everything we do. Similar to the circular model, at Otrium, we aim to close the loop of the previously linear industry model, by selling the unsellable: we polish, match, use data, and refurbish. How? 
1. We polish
We receive and ‘polish’ items to regain value. From product description, photography, packaging, and pressing, we ensure that every piece is ready to be adored by a new owner. We have state-of-the-art warehouses with top-quality equipment, to bring items back to life. Often, returned garments only require tiny ‘tweaks’ to be ready for sale, but are instead left lying in storage or end up as landfill.
2. We match
We find a match – an owner for every item on our platform. And for the small portion of items that cannot be sold on our platform, we sell them to stock buyers. As a company, we are motivated by our leading philosophy, that all clothing should be worn. Because of this, we use technology and data to match supply and demand in the most efficient way possible, matching each item to a fashion lover. 
3. We use data
Together with our partner brands, we use insights to create demand based fashion which removes the likelihood of excess inventory. We're taking the guesswork out of fashion production with data informed forecasting to reduce unsold inventory coming into the supply chain to start with.
4. We refurbish
Many returns in e-commerce remain unsold because they are returned with minor imperfections, some damage or are just not worth investing in repressing and repackaging, fixing up labels etc. We believe it's worth the effort, so we refurbish as many items as we can to ensure that they're sold and worn. 
Change for us starts with measuring and quantifying our impact. We approach our impact in two key ways; having no negative impact as a company, and having a positive impact on the industry. 
It is in our best interest to measure, monitor, map out, and change our processes where necessary. We are committed to measuring and managing our environmental impact from the perspective of our brand partnerships and the fashion industry as a whole. Our organisational boundary is set in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol – a global standardised framework to measure and manage greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Almost 40% of our global greenhouse gas emissions can be traced back to energy generation, and half of that energy is used by industrial or commercial entities. We continually measure our environmental impact in order to manage it and keep it as low as possible. We measure our Carbon Footprint (+ link to report), through three scopes: 1. Controlled GHGs (combustion from the office and vehicles) 2. Indirect emissions (electricity) and, 3. Emissions resulting from activities (packaging, warehouse, and logistics). 
Due to the fact that we are a data-driven organisation, we use metrics and insights to inform our decisions. In order to track our impact, we’ve produced three reports. Each report looks into our impact, how we measure our impact, and what the future looks like:
We created these reports as a baseline to understand our impact and set goals.  
Moving forward 
Otrium is determined to drive this research forward to improve transparency in the fashion industry as a whole and to validate and quantify the impact of our business model. The first step is to find the right partners and institutions to collaborate with on this research. 
What calculations will we be making? 
We’ll analyse our material data and use it to build a strategy for lowering our impact. By nature, the fashion industry is diverse with an eclectic mix of styles and preferences. Because of this, it is important to have an in-depth understanding of the different materials we are working with. Secondly, we’ll carry out order process calculations, including those for the Carbon Dioxide that is expelled as a result of packaging and transportation. In addition, we will be assessing the life cycle of our fashion brands. For example, how much energy did it take for a product to be made? 
We will publish our 2022 results and actively communicate our progress and findings via the Conscious page on our platform. So keep your eyes peeled!

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Otrium's donations program

“When we started Otrium, we didn’t just want to create a company, we wanted to start a movement. We wanted every item of clothing produced to be worn. One size doesn’t fit all, but donations are part of the solution ” - Milan Daniels, Co-founder and CEO At Otrium, our goal is to ensure all clothing produced is worn. Over 90% of the items available on our platform reach our members. We offer alternative services to unburden fashion brands to repurpose the unsold 10%. Alongside our B2B Marketplace – where we connect our brand partners to local stock buyers – we actively support charities to repurpose the items while serving local communities.How it worksPreviously, Otrium would return unsold items to our brand partners, operating on a consignment basis where brands retain ownership until items find new owners through our platform's data-driven matching. Our donation service operates as an additional facet of our core mission, which involves giving unsold fashion items a renewed purpose. We enable these charities to select items upfront. To ensure that the items we send their way fit with the needs of their community.  Partnerships with charities show us the importance clothing holds.
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.”
To celebrate Otrium's 2022 Impact Report, we're shining the light on brands rated Conscious by Good on You. Through our collaboration with Good on You, a leading independent rating organization, we aim to empower our customers to shop responsibly. Good On You assess brands on three key areas, people, planet, and animal welfare. Together we've handpicked CLOSED, a brand that showcases its unwavering commitment to making an impact. Blutsgeschwister's JourneyThrough an interview with Blutsgeschwister's CEO, we explore the heart and soul of the brand, shedding light on its journey towards sustainability, and their vision for a more conscious future. “Tell us a bit more about Blutsgeschwister?” Karin Ziegler, founder, head designer, and managing director co-founded the brand Blutsgeschwister in Stuttgart (Germany) on a sunny Ash Wednesday in the year 2001 with a handful of free spirits and visionaries. Fresh out of her studentship as a women's tailor, her mission was clear: unconventional, everyday wearable, and colorful fashion that brings joy, doesn't follow trends, and is worn with love – genuine favorite pieces, then as well as now. We create feel-good textiles that are highly wearable, matchable and easy to personalize. That’s  what clothing is all about: truly expressing yourself. Not just who you are as a person, but also how you‘re feeling right now. After all, you can only feel comfortable in your own skin and be YOUnique if you don‘t have to pretend. That‘s what our customers love about Blutsgeschwister. Stand up for yourself, and express yourself. Our clothes may have labels, but our customers definitely don‘t. “What is your role at Blutsgeschwister & what achievement are you most proud of? I am the CEO of the company. I have been working for the company for 12 years – it is wonderful  to contribute to seeing the company thrive. What we do is meaningful, makes our customers happy, brings colour to the world and is done in a sustainable and fair way. What job could be better? Since 2022 we are working with 100% sustainable materials, and we continue to have LEADER status at the Fair Wear Foundation. In 2016, we succeeded for the first time in achieving the highest membership status of "Leader", which we are proud to have maintained to this day. This  does not mean we are going to sit back and relax. There is still so much to do and to improve. We  set new goals for ourselves every year to achieve sustainable improvements in working conditions  in our value chain. The membership status of "leader" implies that Blutsgeschwister is recognized as a leading brand within the context of sustainable and ethical fashion. This designation means that we have demonstrated significant commitment and progress in terms of sustainability practices, fair working standards, and overall ethical conduct. It showcases our leadership role and sets us apart as an example for others in the industry to follow. Achieving 100% sustainable garments is a result of a dedicated and ongoing process at Blutsgeschwister. Over the years, we have made significant efforts to improve sustainability practices. This includes assessing and reducing the environmental impact of our productionprocesses, sourcing materials responsibly, and prioritizing ethical practices throughout the supply chain. We focus on choosing materials that are sustainable, such as organic cotton, recycled fabrics, or  other eco-friendly alternatives. Additionally, we value the durability and quality of the materials to  ensure longevity and reduce the need for frequent replacements. “What are you working on at the moment?“ We are working on the ongoing optimization of our production standards – other than that we choose different projects that help us improve further. At the moment we work on a project against gender violence. In India, we have a long-standing factory partner we have supported for years. Training on gender-based violence, on women's rights etc. is vital to help the employees grow. We sustain this process by enabling the factories to train their employees. CO2 neutrality is something that we are also working on. We are constantly switching over to sustainably produced raw materials. All garments are shipped to our customers via carbon-neutral DHL GoGreen. Our packaging materials (polybags) are made of recycled and recyclable polyethylene (LDPE). Our labels are now free of plastic and made from paper sourced from sustainable forestry (FSC certified). Our customer catalogue is printed in organic ink, made using renewable plant resources such as soya or linseed oil. Where do you see your brand in 5 years? And what are the biggest challenges on the roadmap? First of all, the biggest challenges lie within: logistical matters, cost increases, and interruptions in the supply chain. We want to continue to be a best-practice company. Our products have to be at the pinnacle – still transporting Blutsgeschwister details and outstanding design value. We will improve the life cycle of a product by different means – so we’re working on setting up a second-hand and preloved platform where customers can trade in their items that are still in good condition but no longer worn regularly. So, another person can be happy with a preloved item – that platform should launch in autumn 2023. Altogether, we aim and continue to be a true Love  brand.