Beyond a retailer, Zeeman has increasingly become a brand. They design in-house, and although they don’t manufacture in-house, the partnerships with their contract manufacturers have grown a lot closer over time. Zeeman has successfully launched campaigns questioning why some major branded products are so expensive: sneakers, wedding dresses and this year “Zeeman is selling air”, offering a no-frills no-brand perfume (shelves were emptied very quickly for all of these items).
According to Arnoud, the combination of this bold ‘anti-marketing’ and their sustainability practices and positioning, are starting to attract new customers now. It is effectively ‘slow fashion’
“Ecommerce is growing fast and covid-19 accelerated this. But for us this remains a challenge: at our price points, it is difficult to make up for the cost of logistics.”
TWC: “Are you considering circular business models, and what would that look like for Zeeman given your lower price points (compared to famous examples such as Patagonia, Mud Jeans, etc. – ed.)? Will it involve reparation, subscription, a ‘deposit-like’ model on clothing, vintage/pre-loved, or something completely different?” Arnoud: “Ha – yes, we are developing this in full swing. And are actually aiming to start a circular initiative. I would love to share more already; yet can only do so if it turns out to be feasible.”
Arnoud: “For our sourcing practices, we are bearing the fruit of integrating our commercial strategy with our sustainability strategy. Our buyers are trained and equipped to look at optimizing both short-term and longer-term value. Developing long-term relations (definitely not the norm in our industry!) helps here. It also means we can now create products that are more durable, keep their quality for longer and are therefore more valuable for our customers.”
“And on the other end of the value chain, we make sure we are never left with unsold stock in our stores. We might sell it at a discount, but we will never burn our products. Which is happening a lot in the industry and recently caught additional attention and discussion. Our ‘no-frills’ designs and ‘slow fashion’ approach (fewer unique SKUs) helps us avoid this.”