Swedish shop As­ket’s moral fibers

As­ket leads the way in eth­i­cally fo­cused fash­ion brands

Esquire (UK) - - Contents - as­ket.com

It would be a push to say fash­ion can be sus­tain­able — prop­erly so — but some brands are buck­ing the tra­di­tion of per­pet­ual con­sump­tion and new­ness. As­ket, based in Stock­holm, makes lux­ury es­sen­tials akin to Sun­spel and James Perse, and lists the var­i­ous pro­duc­tion costs of its goods on its web­site. For ex­am­ple, a cot­ton sweat­shirt is bro­ken down as fol­lows: fab­ric, £14.10; labour, £8.90; trans­port, 40p; giv­ing a to­tal of £23.40, which is then bumped up to £75 to make a profit. As­ket claim the mar­ket equiv­a­lent would sell at £135. (You can def­i­nitely buy a sweat for less, but at least they’re be­ing hon­est.)

“[Peo­ple] have been con­cerned about the ori­gin of the food we eat for quite some time,” says As­ket co-founder Au­gust Bard Bringéus. “It’s only nat­u­ral that we’ve started to de­mand more trans­parency when it comes to what we wear.” That trans­parency is ex­ten­sive. As­ket’s web­site has im­ages and in­for­ma­tion on all the fac­to­ries it uses, and shows what hours its em­ploy­ees work and even how much they earn. As­ket’s 300 chi­no­mak­ers in Mi­lan, for ex­am­ple, work eight-hour shifts and take home €1,400 per month on av­er­age.

“With the con­stant race to stand out from the crowd and con­vince us to buy more, we’ve started spin­ning out of con­trol and there’s a bull­whip ef­fect across the whole value chain,” Bringéus says, “from the fi­nal garment all the way back to the cot­ton seed. Ev­ery­where you look, [brands] are forced to cut cor­ners, and cus­tomers are kind of the same. We’re in­trigued by a €10 price tag for a T-shirt, in­stead of ask­ing our­selves how it’s pos­si­ble that a garment, made on the other side of the world, sold in a heav­ily-mar­keted, ex­pen­sive retail lo­ca­tion, can sell for less than a lunch.”

As­ket will have just one per­ma­nent col­lec­tion (each prod­uct, how­ever, is sub­ject to con­tin­u­ous cus­tomer feed­back-led tweak­ing) and is plan­ning to op­er­ate solely on­line. The foot­print is small, but many brands with big­ger feet are toe­ing the line, too. Stella McCartney re­cently ex­panded its sus­tain­able, an­i­mal wel­fare-con­scious lux­ury brand to in­clude menswear. Gant is now push­ing a green agenda, util­is­ing dumped plas­tic re­cov­ered from oceans in its Tech Prep shirt­ing col­lec­tion. Else­where, the H&M group has an­nounced that it is mov­ing towards fully sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion.

Is As­ket’s trans­parency set­ting a prece­dent? “I think tra­di­tional brands that rely purely on ei­ther high fre­quency or high value buy­ing will have a tough time,” pre­dicts Bringéus. “In­stead, the brands that ad­dress the grow­ing cus­tomer con­cerns and in­vite peo­ple to be­come part of the change will come out stronger. There’s a net­work ef­fect to it; the more brands that pro­vide trans­parency and set a higher so­cial and eth­i­cal stan­dard, the more cus­tomers will start see­ing that higher stan­dard as a re­quire­ment.”

We all need to be a bit more woke, and even if it’s just a drop in the ocean, a green flash in the fash­ion pan, then surely that’s bet­ter than noth­ing, right? Be­sides, As­ket sells chi­nos, sweats and knitwear. It’s not like they’re get­ting all high and mighty about dia­mante cow­boy boots.

The only way is ethics: As­ket’s web­site openly de­clares the brand’s ‘Spe­cialty Cot­tons Fac­to­ries’ in Reguenga, Por­tu­gal, em­ploy 70 work­ers earn­ing around €800 per month each

Fab­ric £14.10 Labour £8.90 Trans­port40p To­tal £23.40 Our price£75 Com­peti­tor’sprice £135

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