We consider ourselves a fashion-forward company. We have sustainable priorities, ethical values, and we work hard to minimise our impact.
When we found ourselves with a box of beautiful pocket belts, with a small imperfection, we asked for your advice on what to do with them.
We all know waste is a problem. Humans create mountains of rubbish every single day, and a big contributor is the fashion industry, with brand new garments being destroyed or sent to landfill. The issue is huge, and it's getting bigger.
As a small company, we can confidently say that the production of our goods doesn't cause an awful lot of waste. Our products are made in small batches of 20 or 30 pieces and most of our pieces are made from deadstock fabrics. These include the leftover rolls and ends of lines from large production companies or rejected materials that may have small blemishes or cosmetic irregularities.
We are happy to work with materials such as these, knowing they do not affect the overall quality. Plus, it adds a unique element to our products.
It is also normal practice among the tailors and cottage industries we work with to minimise waste by repurposing or selling on the scraps, rather than destroying them.
What Happens When An Item Becomes Unsellable?
Even so, waste is generated, and sometimes unavoidable. The thing that pains me the most is when, on occasion, we have found ourselves unable to sell perfectly good, beautiful items due to small imperfections.
This can happen for many reasons:
- Minor flaws in the production process.
- A fabric that isn't quite right and doesn't meet our standards.
- Human error, because people make mistakes, including our tailors. A misunderstanding in the sampling process could lead to a run made with the wrong material or cut to the wrong pattern.
- Weather damage, and as our business model was built on trading at live events such as music festivals (and their sometimes... let's face it - INSANE weather conditions!) meant that over the years some of our products have been damaged by dust or rain.
We have worked hard on our brand reputation, and issues such as these mean that occasionally we have items that we simply can't sell for fear of it reflecting badly on our brand.
Our Downsizing Dilemma
We recently made the move to a new studio space. With that, we have felt the need to downsize a little and look through what stock we are holding, and we discovered our dilemma: We simply cannot hold on to these items indefinitely.
What should we do with these imperfect items? We all know one man's trash is another man's treasure, yet it's important to us that Forage is known for producing high-quality, beautiful items that will last for years.
The final straw was finding ourselves face-to-face with our beautiful sequinned pocket belts. They are a line of our best-selling canvas pocket belts that we produced a couple of years ago with sequins on the pockets. They are absolutely stunning and the pockets shine like diamonds!
Unfortunately, it emerged from customer feedback that after a bit of wear, the belts had a tendency to lose a few sequins. Now, this is to be expected with sequinned fabrics: sequins are delicate and sequinned clothing needs to be treated with care. However, we market our belts as being ultra-durable, and if you can't drag it through a hedge backwards (quite literally!) then it's not a Forage belt. The mistake is entirely ours, we used a delicate fabric to make what was meant to be a hard-wearing product, and that simply didn't work.
Concerned about having products that are less durable than our normal standards, we removed these from our website and stopped selling them. But we still have them all - they are right here, boxes of them!
Asking For Your Opinion
I took to social media and put the question to our Facebook and Instagram followers: What shall we do with these belts? The answer was a resounding, overwhelming , unanimous one: SELL THEM!
I received scores of replies all saying the same thing: Put them online with a disclaimer. They are beautiful. Give people the opportunity to buy them.
This response encouraged me to take action. That same day, I went ahead and created a new section to my shop: Seconds and Imperfect Pieces.
In this section of the shop, I have re-listed all of our sequinned pocket belts at half price, with a full disclaimer, and I'm pleased to say they are flying out!
It is so wonderful to know that these items are going to loving homes so they can be worn and enjoyed as they should, and it’s such a relief to know we cano list these items in our shop without fear of disappointing our customers.
Could We Take It Further?
It has got me thinking about the ex-display items we have too. Could a new home be found for them? They have the same quality as their full-priced friends, just some snags. They’re not always workable in a retail environment, but for the savvy shopper they are great quality, slow fashion products at a fraction of the price!