First and foremost, everyone is loving the products! VA cycling apparel is starting to turn a lot of heads and it’s definitely sparking positive conversations on social media but more importantly out in the real world, out on the road, where it really connects!
Even Rich Roll has got around Vegan Athletic in the last few weeks as he just so happened to stumble on a gram that Dr. Garth Davis posted of himself wearing a VA Organic Tee in the gym. Rich got in touch with me a few weeks ago to let me know he was really impressed with the design and philosophy behind the brand. Rich and his wife Julie are going to be in Melbourne next month for a speaking tour so we are planning to catch up while he is downunder. I got big love for Rich so I’m really honoured that he rates the brand. I’ll get that man in some kit real soon don’t worry ;)
So with a lot of positive momentum growing around VA, I’ve had to put my head into super drive and work out how to best manage and operate this brand going forward.
You may have remembered that I started selling gear on a pre-order system last year. Customers paid for their gear, I sent a weekly order off to the factory, they manufactured according to that order, sent it to me in Melbourne and then I shipped your orders off from here, around the world. The only issue with that model was the extra time and shipping fees it took to send that stock from China to Melbourne and then Melbourne to you, the customer. But the great thing about manufacturing on demand like that is how much better it is for reducing waste and dead stock. It’s something I’m noticing straight away with the last re-stock in January. It’s just a part of the industry, and it’s the part of the industry I really want to change.
In the apparel game, deadstock (products that aren’t selling due to being an unpopular size or colour) is a huge waste of money, but more importantly to me, it’s a waste of resources. The amount of natural resources and energy that goes into making just the fabric alone is beyond comprehension. As a brand that is built on the foundations of ethical practice, having this situation just doesn’t float with me.
Like I said, my head is on super drive at the moment in trying to problem solve a way that I can have a constant supply of stock to customers around the world without the waste and dead stock issue, without all the shipping miles and the extra time that comes with sending stock from the factory in China to Melbourne and then back out again.
The good news is, there is a very possible solution to all of this and the solution comes from having a great relationship with the owner and management team at my factory in China.
Last week I had a meeting with my main man William. I proposed a manufacturing model to him that could be the solution to all the issues I’ve addressed above and right now we are working on the finer details… it’s looking promising. If it all comes together, then this is what the new manufacturing model for Vegan Athletic could look like.
- No more out of stock apparel!
- Customers will pre-order their products.
- Your apparel is manufactured, by hand, in under 4 weeks.
- Your order is then shipped express post from the factory to your door.
- Wrong size? Don’t stress, we will have a returns stock buffer and system in place.
- New product lines will hit the store and be available as soon as they prototype have been approved and signed off. No more lead time or waiting for an entire range to come out.
- Only the latest model of every product will be for sale in the shop. If there is a design upgrade or better fabric choice I can go with, I’ll simply make a prototype and if it holds up, then it will be instantly available for you to buy online. Normally a brand will try and sell out of all their older models or stock first before they release an upgrade… because everyone wants the newest and the bestest right! So that’s what you’ll be buying every time, the very latest model of any VA product line.
- There won’t be any need for sales. You will only ever pay for the most honest and ethically made products available and I will do everything I can to show you the transparency behind all the design decisions, manufacturing operations and functions of every product.
- Sizing guides and information is going to get a lot more detailed. For most of you who are buying a VA product for the first time, it’s a little daunting to pick the size that you think will best fit you. So I’ll be adding a lot more detail into the size guides and will produce a bunch of videos to help you size yourself up.
With this new model, you the customer, would have contributed to saving a lot of high quality fabric that may have gone into a dead product line, not to mention a lot of air miles in shipping as everything will be completely stored and shipped directly from the place it is made.
Now I know what you’re thinking and I think the same thing too… “but I want it now.”
Trust me, the 4-5 week window for your gear to arrive is actually really fast given the minimum order circumstance that I’m asking the factory to take on. Which they are totally happy to do by the way. This isn’t going to force them to work any harder, they are simply rearranging a few processes on the production line to make all of this possible for VA.
For a high-quality piece of apparel to be manufactured by hand and delivered to your door in that time frame is only something we can do in today's technically and logistically connected world. If Vegan Athletic apparel used pre-purchased blank stock and we just printed a few logos on it like you would do with a t-shirt business, then yes, you should expect a shorter turnaround time. But the entire line of Vegan Athletic apparel is all made from scratch using the best, most sustainable technical fabrics in the world and in a factory that looks after its staff like family… half of them are actually family. It’s what family run business’ do.
I think a lot of people are going to say that I’m cutting out a lot of my market... I’m completely ok with that. Because I’m ok with slowing down. If it means that the world can be a better place because I’ve built a brand that is going away from fast fashion, for the “fastest” community of people who are going to make the “biggest” impact on the future of this planet, then yes, I’m happy to help pioneer the slow fashion movement. It’s one hell of an oxymoron to be forcing slow fashion upon the fastest of the fast fashion industry, but I’m gonna give it a red hot crack.
I’ll keep you all posted on the latest updates as they happen over the next week or so. Right now we are just finalising the shipping and logistics which will play a crucial role in how this all turns out. So please just hang in there with me. I’m doing this because I’m so bloody passionate about doing the right thing and I know if there is going to be any community of people who understand why I’m doing this, it's the vegan community. I love you all so much hey!
Thank you for being a part of this journey. Thank you for supporting Vegan Athletic. Thank you for helping in the good fight to change this planet… for good.
Please feel free to leave any comments below. I'd love to hear your feedback and thoughts.