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Dressing Greener: Making Fashion Sustainable with NA-KD and Place2Swap

On Thursday 22nd April, the Partech Shaker had the pleasure of hosting their monthly Shake & Learn webinar, this time on Resell and Sustainability, with Anna Winde and Estefania Larrañaga.

Anna is Head of CSR at NA-KD, a young and fast-growing fashion company headquartered in Sweden. Launched in 2016, NA-KD’s main customer base is young women between 18 and 35.  

Estefania is Founder and CEO of Place2Swap, a circular economy platform born in 2016, which proposes its solution to brands and retailers much like NA-KD. Estefania founded Place2Swap after experience in the fashion and luxury industries, on the principle that brands need to be concerned about the end of life of their products. Place2Swap is a C2C platform, where consumers buy and sell products via the brand, through Place2Swap’s platform.

When tackling sustainability in the fashion industry, the place to start is the supply chain. The only way to achieve sustainability is if business partners also reduce emissions in their production processes. NA-KD aims to have 80% supply chain visibility by 2025, right the way through to cotton fields, and plans to produce 100% of its products from more sustainable materials by this date too. They’re already working towards this by having 60% of new NA-KD products in more sustainable materials and by dying clothes with fruit or jeans with clay! 

With 191 producing factories at the end of 2020, and fast-expanding internationally, the key now for NA-KD will be to maintain this visibility when working with new partners. 79% of their factories, measured in spend, are already sharing data with them about their environmental impact, and NA-KD tries, where possible, to have dialogues with their partners to help them go greener. When carrying out their due diligence, all suppliers must carry out a social audit.

82% of NA-KD’s emissions come from the making of the garments and just 0.3% come from returns. With most items of clothing in the fashion industry only being worn an average of 7 times, it is imperative that we start redistributing clothes we already have, rather than making more. This is why their newly launched NA-KD Circle, in which they have invested the equivalent of €1 million, is so important. NA-KD Circle is integrated within NA-KD’s website, and with it, you can buy and sell NA-KD  second-hand clothes. To sell a product, there’s no need to take fancy photos – just select that it’s second hand, and you can then arrange collection and postage free of charge. Customers can also buy new and pre-loved in the same order. 

Of course, there’s a natural worry that this will incite cannibalization – although Anna noted that it’s made economically viable given that second-hand returns are not free and indeed, NA-KD has no intention yet of moving to a fully circular business model. However, they are making necessary shifts to make their brand greener, and change the way that we shop. This is not the same across the fashion industry; with Estefania noting that Luxury is a particularly wasteful sector. Place2Swap has discussed with all the big luxury houses, however few are keen to address the pre-owned market. Luxury faces 2 main problems: image and authenticity – both of which could be ‘tainted’ if pre-owned is introduced. Estefania mused that a renting or subscription type model might suit the Luxury sector and market better: America’s consumers are already reasonably familiar with these types of models, and European consumers increasingly so. 

But at the end of the day, it’s all a question of time. We need to act now and stop just talking about it! We’d like to thank both these women for their insights & wish them the best of luck on their mission to make the fashion sector and consumer behavior more sustainable. 

Learn more about NA-KD actions for sustainability on their website, accessible here.  

Learn more about Place2Swap here.

Watch the webinar replay on YouTube.

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