Since April 2021, Belgian fashion brand Xandres has a designated Sustainability Manager. What drives a Belgian fashion house to opt for sustainability? And how does it approach the topic?
Opting for the long term
Xandres is renouncing Black Friday for the second year in a row, but doubles down on its efforts this year. While the Belgian fashion brand did not offer any discounts last year, it is now resolutely closing all shops – including its webshop. “This is really a statement and shows our long-term strategy”, the brand’s sustainability manager, Jasmien Wynants, says. “If you only look at the short term, you mostly see the loss of revenue that you suffer on such an important day. You have to believe in a different future to dare to make such a decision.”
In its campaign against Black Friday, Xandres is also highlighting its ‘Repair & Care’ programme. “Not everyone knows this yet, but customers can have their slightly damaged clothing of the brand repaired free of charge in our own workshop”, Wynants explains. Why? Xandres stands for high-quality clothing that lasts. So sustainability can be as simple as that.
Always “more pressing matters”
At the RetailDetail Night, Wynants explains why she joined Xandres in 2021, and how a Belgian fashion brand can propagate a sustainable DNA. “Xandres had been working on sustainability for a number of years, but at some point realised that it needed a ‘dedicated’ person who could take on a leadership role.”
So does every company need a sustainability manager? “It is a role that you can see in different profiles, but it is good to have someone to take the lead – to not let it slip down the agenda. Because there are always more urgent matters. If there are supply problems, your business is down. If you are not meeting your sustainability KPIs and targets, you will not feel it straight away. Therefore, you need a dedicated someone to continuously monitor it.”
New collection with leftovers
However, Wynants is not alone in her fight: she works together with a team of people from all departments. With that team and the management, she has drawn up a strategy for the coming years, entitled “For our future”. “The central question was what is needed operationally to realise our vision for the future. This is how we created six pillars, from products and communication to a Xandres Lab. With this lab, we look for start-ups to collaborate with, or for example develop more sustainable fabrics or yarns for the new collections.”
For example, Xandres has just launched a capsule collection with “leftover” fabrics. The upcycled jumpers are currently available in shops. Previously, there was also a collaboration with Komrads for trainers made of apple leather, made from leftover waste.
However, Wynants admits frankly that the road to sustainability is no walk in the park. “Xandres is not an eco-brand, it is a fashion house that has been around for fifty years. That means there is still a lot of work to do and a lot of challenges to overcome. I will also share those on the RetailDetail Night. But the important thing is that the engagement comes from an intrinsic feeling. The fashion sector is an industry with a high environmental impact, Xandres does not want to fall into this trap.”
At the RetailDetail Night, Xandres will be sharing the stage with packaging-free shop Robuust, Dressr, Deloitte and AB InBev as part of the ‘Sustainability in Retail’ support programme, followed by a festive evening.