Brands are remaking old products to overcome inventory issues
In February 2020, fashion label DTC Aday released a collection of sharp, office-ready suits. The suits were the top sellers and propelled the brand’s sales for the month to the highest in its six-year history. But the following month, the pandemic struck, working from home became the norm, and the coveralls that had been so successful began to dust the shelves.
Stuck with excess stock, the brand found an original solution: it worked with a touch-up partner, Hemster, to take almost a quarter of the inventory – around 300 units of five different parts – and transform it. into completely new products. A pair of pants became a pair of hemmed shorts, for example, while a blazer was cut and sewn back to be less formal.
Aday launched the new collection, which she called MadeAgain, on August 17th. The new products are unique SKUs, but their price was intentionally kept the same as their original incarnations, even though there were additional labor costs involved. Aday declined to disclose production costs to remake the products. Alexis Cuddyre, Aday Brand SVP, said she didn’t think it was fair to pass the costs on to the customer. Also, she said, the little extra cost of modifying parts was worth it to clear inventory without resorting to discounts. Additional quantities of pieces from the MadeAgain collection will be made from scratch and sold to order. Both models are currently sold on the brand’s e-commerce site.
In February 2020, the same month the initial costume collection launched, Aday received $ 8.5 million in funding from H&M Co: Lab and Downing Ventures. This brings the total brand valuation to around $ 10 million.
The idea of remaking an existing product to adapt it to its time is fashionable. The DTC Cuyana brand simple classic tote is one of its best-selling products. It launched a new product, also on August 17th, called Systems Tote. It’s a redesign of the Classic Tote, designed in such a way that every feature – the laptop sleeve, extra pockets, etc. – can be removed, reconfigured and purchased separately. For example, the laptop sleeve can be replaced with a 13 or 16 inch option. That way if a customer, for example, starts a new job and gets a new laptop, they don’t need to buy a new bag to fit it.
Redesigning an existing product in this way is part of a major conversation in fashion around sustainability and, in particular, circularity. There has been increased visibility into the issues of waste and overproduction, as well as the short shelf life of most fast fashion products. Shilpa Shah, co-founder of Cuyana, said she hopes that by redesigning an existing bag to be modular, its longevity can be increased. This fact is widely present in Cuyana’s marketing around the bag.
“All the different roles that our clients play, whether they are a mother or an office worker, all of these aspects of her life are more mixed up now,” Shah said. “So we wanted to make our bags as versatile as she is. We emphasize the versatility [in marketing] upstream, then we follow the purchases with emails explaining a little more how the modularity of the bag works.
The Systems Tote is priced roughly the same as the Classic Tote it was based on, both being $ 275 to $ 295. Modular pieces are priced and sold separately, with a new laptop sleeve costing $ 95, for example.