The first steps in the textile sector
So there we were. Resigned from our corporate jobs with the firm intention of producing a haptic product that combines sustainability and business (more about the background here).
After we had dealt with numerous potential business ideas, we sat down one day with a long-standing friend who told us about his personal business idea: There was no sustainable Swiss ski-wear brand, which could be an exciting niche in the market. In the beginning we rather smiled at this idea and took it only partly seriously, since there are already one or two Swiss companies in this field. But the longer we thought about it, the more exciting and relevant the idea seemed to us. Not per se the aspect that the market was waiting for another Swiss ski-wear brand. Rather, after some initial research we realized that the clothing industry is one of the most non-transparent and dirty industries of all. So we began to read up on the subject and look into the industry, the challenges it faces and the opportunities it offers. After numerous discussions with experts from the textile and clothing industry, data analyses of industry reports and visits to trade fairs, the passion for textiles and the urge for positive change grew ever stronger. Although we had no professional background or expertise in the textile sector until then, the idea of taking up the challenge and producing a holistically thought-out garment according to the highest sustainability criteria wouldn’t let us go. The trigger for this urge was the realization that sustainability is THE central topic, but due to its complexity it was often either implemented to narrowly or people simply capitulated before the challenge. Many claimed sustainable, innovative materials and approaches seemed to us rather unconvincing or simply “greenwashing”.
We agreed fairly quickly: if no one else dares to break new ground and think outside the box, then we’ll just do it ourselves and show the market that with honest and transparent sustainability there is no need to sacrifice quality, style and economic profit.
Plunged in at the deep end
So there we were, full of euphoria and motivation to show everyone how the cookie crumbles. After all, we’re no fools and making such a garment can’t be too difficult. As if a simple product wasn’t challenging enough for industry outsiders, we decided to try the most complex piece of clothing: a winter jacket. We believed that if we could bring a high-quality, beautiful jacket to the market, we could easily create all the other products that came along, and logically, customers would trust us because we had already produced the best possible jacket. In theory an excellent idea, in practice a little more complex than initially thought. We were well aware that it will be a long and rocky road until we can bring a jacket to the market. This assumption has been confirmed all too often by numerous textile experts. Again and again we were told “if this were possible, someone would have done it already and for industry outsiders like you it will be even more difficult”. Instead of discouraging us, however, such pessimists (at least in our eyes at the time) only strengthened and motivated us more in our endeavor. Looking back, almost two and a half years later and the planned market launch of the jacket postponed until next autumn, there was probably something to the initial warnings. Fortunately, we didn’t let ourselves be dissuaded from our plans, because even though the road was very long and we haven’t arrived at plan B or C but rather plan R, we don’t regret our decision for a second and the journey that followed was and is one of the best and most exciting ones we have ever experienced. We decided to go our own way, to dare stepping into the unknown and above all to be open for new things.
Product development and company structure
After several months of research into the materials that were suitable for us and the strategic orientation of our company, we started looking for suitable partners. Although we obviously wear clothes on a daily basis, our knowledge of the functionality and design of such products at that time did not go much further. We needed support, especially in the design and conception of our planned jacket. Fortunately, we quickly found someone with a similar enthusiasm for the topic and, above all, an expert textile designer. Together we started to develop our “dream jacket”: It should be the “best possible” jacket that accompanies you every day, is durable and made of the most sustainable raw materials.
During the development process, we quickly realized that the materials we wanted were not available off the shelf. Obviously, otherwise it would have been easy and stress-free after all. So we started looking for possible partners who were similarly crazy and shared our ambition for developing new solutions. After an initially very promising fabric development with a Swiss manufacturer, we had to admit after the first prototypes that the raw materials we chose were ecologically very sensible, but just not suitable for such a jacket from a functionality point of view. The product was nice to look at and the fabric had an very exciting and pleasant touch and feel, but unfortunately the desired functionality was not given. This small setback was unpleasant, but did not detract from our motivation to continue our research. With our jacket design and our enormously specific choice of materials, we continued to search for suitable solutions and partners. This semi-planned detour then fortunately led us to Swiss wool, the central raw material for our Swiss LANA-Shell jacket. The whole story of how we ended up developing our own fabric from Swiss wool, adapting our design roughly 20 times and making the difficult decision to postpone our product launch in 2019, we will gladly tell at a later date in a blog post specifically for this purpose.