As for most, Covid came unexpected for us and hit us with its full force. After the first few weeks of the lockdown in March and a certain surprise, April was by far the best month of sales to date. For us at the time in this respect, even a little luck in the great misfortune. What was only slowly becoming noticeable, however, was the devastating impact Covid would have on our supply chain. At first, there was talk of a few days, maybe a week, delay at the fabric supplier in Portugal. Ultimately, there was a lockdown in all production facilities of our European partners. As a result, our planned developments and productions were abruptly put on standby. The LEGNA t-shirts were selling very well at that time, but we had no more access to new fabric. Also, the development of the LANA jacket, which had been ongoing for over two years, came to an abrupt stop with the factory closure of our Croatian partner.
We came to a difficult position. We had a fully functional website, happy customers but no more way to source new products to refill the warehouse or bring new products to market.
But of course, we were far from burying our heads in the sand. With the greatest vigour, we continued to work in the background on solutions in these uncertain times. The Muntagnard project has always been about full traceability and proximity. From the start, we had decided that we should not go further that neighbouring European countries to source our raw materials and set up production. The Covid changed those parameters, with borders shut and travel restrictions. It forced us to investigate an even closer solution, inside the borders of our own country, Switzerland.
First, we started investigating how we could possibly manufacture our LEGNA tee-shirts in Ticino or Lucern. Then we studied how to continue the development of our LANA jacket, using the full resources of the STF in Zurich and exploring new manufacturing facilities in Switzerland.
This is how we came across an unexpected encounter. We discovered a small textile workshop in Canton Schwyz, only 30 minutes from Zurich, in the charming town of Rotherturm. Up to now, our attention was focused on industrial factories, manufacturing for other brands, in large production batches of multiples of 100’s pieces. This workshop was called Schuler Manufaktur 6418. It is family-owned and operated. It is dedicated to creating uniforms for musical groups or traditional Swiss folklore outfits. The local know-how and love for the product were immense. Our world just got thrown from an industrial set up to a universe of craftmanship, Swiss traditions and made-to-measure.
Borders and factories started to re-open end of May. We could resume the development of our LANA jacket with our Croatian partner. Meanwhile, we had fallen in love with Schuler Manufaktur but we were still at the early stage of discussion. As it was so important for us to finally launch the jacket for Autumn 2020, we therefore decided to focus on a single model for Men and only produce 100 pieces in Croatia. This became our “LANA First Edition” jacket, the first 100% bio-based and biodegradable jacket.
The LANA jacket was finally out, and we knew there was more to come soon…