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Part 3: Looking Ahead

Our Progress and Next Steps

15 DECEMBER 2021
To reach our goal, we have a journey ahead of us. A journey we’d like our customers to be a part of. 2020 and 2021 may have been pretty unpredictable years, we’re glad to have made more progress than we had thought was possible. Making a positive impact however, is an ongoing journey, and we continue to improve over time. 
We are proud of measuring our impact through reporting, through which we’ve released three reports:
  • Impact Progress Report
  • Fashion Impact Report
  • Carbon Footprint Report
The goal of these reports is to have reliable data to feed into our sustainability strategy moving forward. The reports are based on the year 2020, they function as a baseline to understand our impact and set goals, as well as functioning as a benchmark for our future. To ensure that we efficiently track and leverage our sustainability strategy, and to ensure full transparency, we plan on reporting the same data annually, 
At Otrium, contributing to positive change has always been our main priority.  Looking back, here are some highlights throughout 2020 and 2021: 

2020 

‘19 to ‘20 Refurbishing returns
We extended the life cycle of slightly imperfect returns by refurbishing them by hand to an as-new condition and offering them a second chance to find a new owner on our platform. Why is this important? Returns provide another opportunity for clothing to be mismanaged and they end up not being worn. We want to prevent any chance of this happening, elongating all journeys that the items go through. 
March ‘20 100% recycled packaging
We aim to create a sustainable journey, from item creation to boxing, through to wearing. Our shipping boxes are made out of recycled cardboard and are based upon the measurements of the pallets of our forwards to ship as efficiently as possible. Through measuring efficiently, we use the least amount of surface area as possible. Additionally, our poly bags are made out of 100% recycled polyester and are only used in case an incoming item is missing one.
April ‘20 Improving the last mile
The start of our last mile project. The last mile project was initiated in order to improve the carbon footprint of our shipments. How? We decided to partner and work with alternative transport systems such as bicycle couriers in the Netherlands.  

2021 

March ‘21 Sustainability function
Otrium was founded as a purpose-driven company. In 2021 we hired  a dedicated Sustainability Lead to ensure our purpose remains focused and understood by our consumers. 
April ‘21 Fit finder
In order to reduce returns, we implemented a size recommendation tool. The tool combines production size chart data and body-modelling knowledge with the world’s largest collection of sales and return records to provide the most accurate fit prediction. 
July ‘ 21 Official fur free retailer
From a day-to-day perspective the platform stayed the same, as we did not have any garments that contained real fur. This accreditation made the fur-free status official – for our customers and for our partners.
As you can see, we’re on quite the journey to becoming conscious, come along with us!
We see a future where all clothing is worn. Our role as a business is to eradicate unsold inventory and change the way clothing is produced, bought, and considered. We aim to have a positive impact on the fashion industry, to help give fashion a bright future. Every year, billions of items are produced globally but are never sold and go unworn – this is a huge waste of creative energy, labour, natural resources, and investment. Right now, waste is built into our linear industry model, something that we as a company have the responsibility to help fix. Laws are being enforced which will require the fashion industry to significantly reduce the amount of waste, therefore, change is inevitable. 
So, how is Otrium helping the industry change?
Our ambitions are a two-fold:
1. Our impact on the fashion industry
We want to help fashion brands and our members to become more circular by creating an infrastructure to regain value of inventory streams and give all items a new lease of life. We are a data-led platform, using customer insights. We use data to help inform brands’ new collections; meaning brands are only creating what consumers want to buy. We only use data that our customers are happy for us to use informing brands what it is they’re looking to buy.
2. Our own impact - carbon footprint
We are committed to measure and manage our environmental impact. How? By making smart choices. Package redesign, bike delivery, solar panels and electric vehicles are just some examples of these. We are setting targets within the environmental management system to achieve optimal and continual improvement. We will report on a yearly basis, providing buyers with valuable insights - we’re big on transparency. We plan on reducing our impact by reviewing and acting on our practices and processes, and to offset the effect of the carbon we cannot reduce. We have committed to investigating new forms of offsetting which can make the largest impact. True to our values, we're investing in offsetting technologies at the cutting edge, which can remove carbon from the atmosphere.
What’s in our future plan? (some sneak peeks)...
We’re working with frameworks and targets to lower our greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible. 
Our rescue strategy
Scaling refurbishment by taking in slightly imperfect items from our brand partners, refurbishing them by hand to as-new condition, and offering them a second chance to find a new owner on our platform.
Our carbon strategy
We’ll publish our carbon strategy to show our impact. Our actions to lower our greenhouse gas emissions by as much as possible. Additionally, we will report our carbon footprint yearly, reducing the impact we make, and simultaneously removing the emissions we cannot avoid yet.
Redesign of the packaging
We redesigned our shipping boxes to lower our carbon footprint, using thinner, unbleached, recycled cardboard, as well as adding an envelope to avoid shipping air for smaller items.
Onboarding more conscious brands We are in the process of onboarding more fashion brands that are rated conscious by Good On You.
Solar panels on our warehouse 
Our warehouse and fulfilment partner is working on a zero-waste program and transitioning to run on energy generated by their own solar panels.
We’re excited about the future, and yes, it may sound ambitious, but we’re truly steadfast in looking to improve the fashion industry through a more circular approach. 
Join the movement

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Conscious

Otrium's Photo Studio

As we all know, visuals are everything when it comes to fashion. We can see that consumers are more likely to choose clothing with clear images. At Otrium, we understand the important role that visuals play in presenting clothing at its best, so here’s what we did: We've initiated  our Photo Studio in 2020, to optimise the visual identity of the items on our platform. Our mission revolves around collaborating with brand partners to give a new life to their unsold stock through our platform. Our in-house Photo Studio captures these items on models using AI. Quick and effective From a seamless photo shoot to the final image, we manage it all, eliminating the need for third-party involvement and ensuring a swift and cost-effective workflow. A quick turnaround, with items going live within a week. The studio offers options between packshot and model images, with high-quality AI-driven modelling. This is how we workundefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedBest of both worlds Off-price items are mostly end of season, and for brands it is therefore less attractive to invest in such items. This is where Otrium comes in; for a small expense we deliver quality images of these fashion items if our brand partners do not have such imagery available themselves. These visuals help consumers with making an accurate purchase decision and therefore also reduce the likelihood that consumers will  return their order.Capacity Behind the scenes, our statistics reveal the scale of our operations. In 2023 alone, 15,000 items were shot, with 2,500 as model photography. Our editing partner handled retouching for 30,000 images, emphasising the magnitude of our commitment to visual excellence. Orders with at most 75 items can go live within four days. The Otrium Photo Studio isn't just about capturing images; it's a testament to our dedication to revolutionising how fashion is presented and experienced. With a commitment to efficiency, quality, and innovation, we're aiming to set new standards in the fashion industry.  Click undefined If you want to know more about Otrium’s services.
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.”