PARIS — Stockholm-based anti-fast-fashion brand Asket has launched the industry’s first “impact receipt” to inform consumers of the true cost of their purchases.
Instead of price, taxes and total cost for the consumer, the brand’s new concept is an environmental accounting of the impact of their latest purchase.
More from WWD
Laid bare are the carbon emissions, water use and energy use from farm to rack for each garment purchased, issued alongside a traditional receipt. Shipping and packaging are also added to the final tally.
“Because we’ve only ever been told the price consumers pay for a garment, the industry has created a disconnect between our shopping habits and its impacts,” said Asket cofounder August Bard Bringéus. “Until we put a price on our planet’s resources and understand what our choices actually cost, we’ll never make concessions to the consumption we think we’re entitled to.”
The eight-year-old brand was founded by Bard-Bringéus and Jakob Dworsky to offer a wider size and fit range for men. As the duo learned about industry standard practices, they became devoted to full traceability and transparency, including inviting customers to visit their factories in an effort to change the business. The brand launched women’s in 2021.
They maintain a highly curated collection, adding or subtracting two to four garments a year to keep it classic, but still relevant by updating colors or tweaking fits. Garments are designed for durability and to last beyond one season.
“We knew we wanted to do more than just say where things come from — which is a super powerful tool, just in terms of visualizing the complexity of a garment and nudging people into an awareness,” Bard Bringéus told WWD.
The detailed traceability info the business has on its items allows it to do the accounting. He noted that Asket’s controlled offering makes this possible, unlike a brand with several seasonal collections a year or a fast-fashion company that drops hundreds of thousands of items per year. For those kinds of companies “it’s simply not financially nor practically possible to actually understand where the garments come from and the footprint that they make,” he said.
Building that traceability structure into its supply chain from launch allowed it to move on to the next step of doing a complete accounting of the garment’s footprint.
Asket partnered with Berlin-based carbon calculation start-up Vaayu Tech to assess the impact of each garment, broken down into tiers including raw materials, milling, manufacturing, transportation and trims.
Development of the accounting process took about three years due to the technical complexity of sourcing the data and assessing a garment’s life cycle. They can drill down to the granular level of looking at a location’s energy grid mix to understand the consumption.
The brand also puts the numbers more in context on its website to help consumers better understand their impact. Using the example of a single white T-shirt, production uses 27.8 cubic meters of water, enough to keep an adult human hydrated for 30 years; 32.7 kilowatt hours, enough to power an LED lightbulb for five months, and emitting 5.8 kilograms of carbon, equal to eating 2 cheese burgers or 30 vegan salads.
It also frames the carbon emissions in terms of what each individual should use per year to help keep global warming below the 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) targeted in the United Nation’s Paris Agreement.
Bard-Bringéus noted that due to the energy and cost of living crisis in Europe the energy metric has a little more understanding. “Most grownups by now know roughly how much energy they actually consume or their households consume, which is a great example of how we’re becoming more literate in terms of these types of figures and resource consumption,” he said. “But CO2 and water is still tricky.”
Still, the brand hopes that it can be an industry leader. “In combination with our practical ability to do it with a permanent collection, it’s our intrinsic motivation to try and show the industry that it’s possible and that we need to educate customers in terms of the impact that our consumption has,” he said. “We need to put these figures into perspective to actually able to change habits.
He said the majority of customers come to the brand for its fit and expanded size range, as well as its reputation for durability. Getting the information across is just a bonus.
“Then there are customers do specifically seek us out because of the radical level of transparency and because of our philosophy of trying to help [one] live with less,” he said.
He’s also making the business case for Asket’s less-is-more approach.
“Brands are struggling with growth, profitability, competition…ultimately, the fashion industry has undermined its own product because we don’t care about the product anymore,” he said of the disposability and race for the lowest cost items.
Bard-Bringéus noted that while the company’s unique model discourages mass consumption and item turnover, it is working on long-term, sustainable growth of the company through strategic openings.
The top three markets are its home country of Sweden, Germany and the U.S. They jostle for the top slot depending on the month, Bard-Bringéus said.
Outside of its two Stockholm stores, Asket is currently in Paris with a wholesale pop-up in partnership with French eco shoe brand Veja until Dec. 31.
Asket plans to open more of its own flagship stores, branching into another European capital in the second half of next year.
If growth seems counterintuitive, it is considered. “It’s not about getting the same person to buy more, it’s about finding new people that can adopt our philosophy and consume less with our clothing, rather than trying to upsell. And in that respect, physical stores are still crucial.”
Best of WWD