Fashion

Wardrobe Crisis Podcast: How can we tackle fashion’s overproduction problem? 

By Clare Press
01.05.19

In this week’s podcast Clare Press meets Citizen Wolf’s Zoltan Csaki, who’s designing out waste using high-tech tailoring.

 

Maybe, just maybe, fashion is slowing down. This survey conducted by One Poll for the Fashion Retail Academy in London suggests there’s a shift towards buying better quality garments and keeping them for longer. Meanwhile, this study from ThredUP shows the fashion resale market is booming - and might soon outperform fast fashion.

The story of post-consumer clothing waste has been in the spotlight and the culture around it is beginning to change. However, the pre-consumer waste picture remains largely in shadow. Sure, Burberry was in the news last year after it admitted to burning unsold stock, the practice remains the norm.

The fashion production process is extremely wasteful. The whole system is built on over-ordering and factoring large amounts of stock, that brands know they won’t sell, into the numbers.

“One in three clothes made every year goes straight to landfill or is incinerated,” says Zoltan Csaki, co-founder of disruptive Australian T-shirt brand Citizen Wolf. “There’s a structural issue. The default is oversupply due to mass production.”

Over production is the elephant in the room; the thing brands don’t want to discuss. “It’s the sacred cow at the heart of the industry,” he says. “Look, fashion’s not alone. With any kind of mass production, the business of being in a factory is producing as cheaply as possible, and you get that through scale. That’s what brands in many ways are forced into… Then there’s a forecasting issue, where everyone expects to sell perhaps more than they can… but waste is built into their business models and they are quite happy with not selling [a certain percentage].”

There is another way. Csaki and his business partner Eric Phu decided if they’re going to be in the fashion game they have to be part of the solution not the problem. Their big idea? M.O.D. - manufacturing on demand. That’s right: Citizen Wolf makes T-shirts to order. If they haven’t sold it, they don’t produce it. Simples. Or is it?

Find out how they do it, and how they make it pay. Learn what hurdles they encountered when they were setting up, and how something called the “Magic Fit” algorithm helps them predict your sizing. “We started by designing out the measuring tape because we knew that if we wanted to do tailoring at scale, we had to solve the data input issue,” says Csaki.

Listen to the interview on iTunes here.

 

 

Discover more Wardrobe Crisis podcast episodes including Livia Firth's here

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Wardrobe Crisis Podcast: How can we tackle fashion’s overproduction problem?