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Consumers are increasingly aware fast fashion is having a detrimental impact on the environment and communities, with its high volumes of cotton consumption, sweatshop working conditions and toxic industrial waste.
One company seeking to break the cycle is MUD Jeans, a fast growing sustainable jeans company from the Netherlands. Speaking at the Sustainable Brands Event 2016 in Sydney, MUD Jeans CEO and founder, Bert van Son, said the company allows customers to shop for jeans via a ‘lease a jeans’ concept, which makes it possible for customers to use jeans and give them back after use. This allows customers to renew their wardrobe, while ensuring materials are also recycled after use.
“You simply pay a monthly fee of 7.50 Euros for 12 months, and after those 12 months, if you want you can keep them, or you can also send them back to change them into a new pair of jeans,” he told attendees. “Once the jeans come back, we add details like patches and sell them as vintage jeans.”
The brand has implemented a number of marketing initiatives to ensure customers are not only engaged with the brand’s philosophy, but become advocates of the circle economy concept, van Son claimed.
“When customers bring back their jeans, we ask them to give us a story,” he explained. “People love to tell a story about their jeans, especially on social media. As a result, 80 per cent of customers send back their old jeans to us and feel happy about it, because they know MUD Jeans is going to do something interesting with them. And we keep our customers, because we know they will keep coming back. At the same time, we’re selling the same product twice, but in a slightly different way.”
For jeans that cannot be resold as vintage, van Son said these are torn apart, recycled and re-purposed into thread and textiles, which can then be used in other garments like sweaters and tops.
“This way, you are using fewer chemicals, less waste and have less CO2 emissions,” he said.
To make the customer journey easier online, the brand also sends out two additional pair of jeans to try for every pair ordered, along with a reusable bag to return any unwanted items. This has created a positive social media response from the brand’s ‘social explorer’ customer base, which is engaged with the brand’s sustainable values.
“We work with a great company from Finland called Repack, which creates a fantastic type of packaging that can be reused 30 times,” van Son said. “Customers are now filling our Facebook and Instagram with pictures of our packaging and sharing it.”
In order to further customer engagement while building the sustainability model, van Son said the company recently took on a large recycling project, where it collected the jeans in vans and drive to the recycling plant in Valencia, sharing the entire journey with customers.
“We drove all the way to Spain and even stopped along the way to clean up a beach in France,” he added. “Then arriving in Spain, we documented the recycling process.”
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