ARKDEFO: MADE TO ORDER
Starting a fashion brand isn’t easy, especially with the sheer volume of competition. Most of that competition comes in the form of ready made High Street (fast fashion) brands, mixing in-store presence with online shopping.
So where do you start, and how do you stand out from the crowd?
We took the early decision to be the antithesis of fast fashion consumption. Too much is being made, too much is being bought and too much is being thrown away without a second thought.
We wanted to start a course correction by discussing consumerism.
We wanted to engage with the public, so we began a #donatedenim campaign.
We wanted to highlight the broken system in the UK, so we started a podcast and write magazine articles, like this one.
We wanted people to understand that we all play an important part in this system.
Fashion is almost exclusively accessed at point of sale. It fuels impulse shopping and we don’t really consider the journey, nor the human impact of our choices. Why should we? Everything is shiny and attractive and it makes us feel good - now. A lot of the impulse leads to poor choices, which don’t look as good when we get home, or don’t really fit, and end up at the back of our wardrobes until the next spring clean.
The pinnacle of impulse. Online shopping.
We don’t have to leave the house. Press a button and it can be with you the next day. Now they are aiming for same day delivery. Is there anything so important that we need it the same day?
We took the decision to run an online business, providing online sewing & fashion design courses, then we offered an online clothing line. Our mantra was “don’t buy unless you will cherish and wear” as we didn’t want needless purchases.
When we launched our online shop we decided to run a zero waste, made-to-order service. We would only make something once you decided to order it.
Made To Order
What has proven interesting to us is that Made To Order isn’t really understood anymore, such has been the drive to overconsumption. People seem twitchy at the idea of having to wait for anything. What have we become!
The reason we are determined to use this method is that it highlights the time, skill and effort of the maker. The human element. It takes time to make anything well. It certainly takes time if you are a dedicated, skilled and invested makers and designers - like we are.
Focusing on the skill of the maker also shows how we invest in the quality of your garment. This isn’t one of a hundred thousand, run off in a factory somewhere. Anonymous clothes by anonymous makers, shipped to wherever and bought by whoever. THAT IS SOULLESS. We don't believe in that.
Fashion With Soul
Our customers are important. You are important. We only make when you order. Each item takes time to make, which is why we note a minimum 4 week delivery time, but allow for 8 weeks just in case. We understand that goes against the norm, but the tide is turning. High end brands are realising that more customers want this exclusive on-demand service.
Maybe we’ve all become numbed by endless, soulless readymade nothing purchases?
Taking Your Own Measurements
What we ask is slightly interactive.
As we are currently online, we ask that you take a few standard measurements to help us meet your requirements.
We understand this level of involvement may not be for everyone, but then an exclusive made to order service may not be for everyone. Some may just want that impulse, button pressing buy.
Celebrate Slow Fashion
What we hope is that those who do come along on this journey with us appreciate the message and want to share in the experience.
The message of slowing down consumerism, of buying less but better quality, of being tuned to the value of the makers time and skill, of appreciating the creativity and understanding the story behind the garment you have purchased.
Our hope is that every purchase celebrates the slow nature of this process. It’s deliberate.
Fashion is slowly beginning to re-engage with the customer and to understand that the experience is key. Made to order, on demand business models provide that experience and they will be key in slowing down a system that has lost control.