Fast vs slow fashion - let's talk about production!
First blog post of 2021!
It’s been over a year since we started designing our new collection and FINALLY the launch is on the horizon (happy dance). Whilst reflecting on the toll that the pandemic has taken (and continues to take) on small businesses, we got to thinking about what it takes to launch a new product. So, let’s talk about production!
As a small business, we are always striving to improve both the products that we produce, and the way in which we produce them. Which is why, when starting up, we took the conscious decision to work with a small family run manufacturer in the Philippines to bring our swimwear designs to reality.
As a small business, one of the main constraints is.. you guessed it.. MONEY! For every penny spent, there are decisions to be made on who, what, how, why and where. So when faced with the decision of where to manufacture your products, which will probably be your single biggest investment, going for the cheapest option can be tempting.
Many companies in this situation will turn to Chinese manufacturers who are able to produce large volumes of products at low costs. This is why so many of the products that we consume today are made in China, which has a very strong industrial infrastructure, as well as a large pool of workers who will accept very low wages. Chinese manufacturers have become accustomed to copying prototypes and churning out huge volumes of products in short time scales. Manufacturing in China has changed the landscape of retail shopping as we know it today, driving down prices and enabling large corporates to profit off of very low cost manufacturing costs. Thousands of retailers with thousands of new products on the racks every day in a constant turnaround of trends. This is, as we know it, FAST FASHION.
But when you’re buying something at a very low price point, you can be almost certain that many aspects have suffered along the way to getting that product on the shelves. Workers’ pay and conditions are often inadequate; There has probably been little or no consideration for the environmental impact of production; And if a factory is churning out thousands of products at a time, quality will suffer.
So why was our choice of manufacturer so important to us? Our focus has never been on mass producing swimwear at low cost to generate huge profits. We want to know where our garments are being made, speak to the people that make them and understand their needs and constraints. What are the factory conditions like? Are workers being paid a fair wage? We wanted to be able to visit the factory and see all of this for ourselves as well as have our manufacturing team understand our mission as a business. We have also been lucky enough to find local Filipino artisans who hand print and sew our beautiful canvas packaging that is included with each piece, meaning we can do our bit to empower local communities and industries. Whilst all of this of course means much higher costs, longer lead times and smaller margins, our commitment has always been to building a sustainable business; one with a close eye on ethical and quality production.
So why should this be important to our customers? Our close relationship with our design and manufacturing team means that we have control over every aspect of our supply chain and production. We know about every piece of fabric being cut and every swimsuit being packed. We work closely with our manufacturing team feeding back at every step of the process to refine and improve our designs and processes and feedback any customer comments.
We often get questions from customers about when we will be having sales or discounts. The answer is that our swimwear is not priced at a significant mark-up and as a result we rarely have sales and when we do, you won’t find us heavily discounting our products. Whilst you may find our prices to be higher than a large high street or online retailer, when you buy a swimsuit from Lanuuk, you can be confident that you are buying a high quality product at a fair price, that is made to last.