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Commitment is at the heart of their activity. These women and men are inspired by the world to act differently and sustainably, and to make their environment a path of expression, creativity, innovation or solidarity. Finance, culture, crafts, industry or media are all fields embodied by these personalities, who have agreed to be in cahoots with us for a meeting to share their universe.


Benjamin is originally from Lille and is a native of Geneva. After 12 years spent in the purchasing and sales departments of a Swiss multinational, Benjamin listened to his entrepreneurial spirit to create ClotherClother is an online eco-responsible fashion boutique with one idea in mind: to convince as many people as possible to change their consumption habits by offering sustainable clothes and an easy customer experience for a more sober fashion.

The clothes are made as close to Switzerland as possible within a radius of no more than 1,500 km using sustainable, recycled or upcycled materials and are delivered to the customer using circular logistics. Not forgetting the good advice and tips regularly offered through its newsletter and social networks by the brand, very useful! 


Hello Benjamin, who are you and what do you do for a living?

Hello my name is Benjamin Lecrivain, I am the founder of Clother, which is a new online platform for eco-responsible clothing sales in Switzerland. 

Clother-Vestiaire-Durable

Why did you choose this field of activity?

At the beginning, this is not my field at all, it all started from a desire to undertake an idea that made sense from an environmental point of view. That's why I chose clothing because as a consumer, I realised that when I wanted to buy sustainable clothing without fear of falling into greenwashing, there were very few accessible, practical and easy solutions in Switzerland, and in French-speaking Switzerland in particular. I also realised that the few solutions that did exist were doing a good job on the eco-responsible proposition but that the notion of service, practicality, ease and customer experience was not always at the heart of their approach.

I am convinced that if we want to convince as many people as possible to switch to a more sober, more sustainable consumption, particularly in clothing, it also requires the most practical and comfortable customer experience possible, because today we are already used to this experience with the big sites such as Zalando or Amazon, to name but a few.

So making eco-responsible online shopping easy, fast and convenient is important to break down barriers and get as many people as possible to sustainable fashion. 

 

How did this desire for commitment come about? What triggered it? 

It's not a trigger, it's more a personal journey. Year after year, the different information we receive from all sides, through the media, through what we read about climate change, about our way of consuming which has a considerable impact on the environment. Whether it's the IPCC reports, the World Economic Forum, which has announced that climate change is a major risk from an economic point of view, or the UN, which reports that we are on a warming trajectory of +2.7 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era. All the signals are red and have been for several years.

As far as I'm concerned, it's a realisation that didn't happen overnight but over time, with questions about my lifestyle and ways of living differently, more soberly. This was then coupled with my desire to be an entrepreneur and finally to try to be an actor and to propose a solution, humbly, to accompany people towards a more sober consumption.

Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world and we don't necessarily realise it, we think that clothes are small, they don't take up much space and we pay very little attention to where they come from and how they are made, even though this has a fairly huge impact on our individual carbon footprint. I thought there was something to be done to support a sustainable movement in this sector. 
And in this adventure of impact entrepreneurship that you have embarked on, what are the issues that you are facing, what are the challenges that you have to face?
The first challenge was to convince myself that I had an idea worth pursuing and that it was worth trying and leaving a comfortable and easy life as an employee in a big company, to take action. That was really the first challenge, which is now far behind me.
Another challenge is to realise that when you embark on such an adventure the range of things you can control is very wide and you have a feeling of freedom and at the same time you realise that you have to do a lot of things and that you don't necessarily always have the maximum skills to manage them.
So you have to learn to learn, listen, find out and learn from your mistakes, of course, in order to move forward with this idea and give it birth.
 
And with regard to the first clients you meet, how receptive are they to your concept and your services? Do you feel that there is a real appetite for solutions like yours? 
The feedback is generally very positive so far. Customers appreciate several things:
The first thing is to come to a site where they say to themselves "I know that work has been done in selecting the brands that are on offer and so I don't have to worry too much about whether the clothes on offer are really sustainable and have a low carbon footprint".
The second thing is to discover brands that they don't know, because they are not widely distributed.
What I also like a lot is the coherence of the approach, the offer and the services that are proposed. Indeed, the eco-responsible offer is not limited to the clothes that are offered but also concerns the delivery method, the fact that we have decided to use reusable packaging, therefore circular. Customers don't have to throw away cardboard or plastic, instead they receive a package that they send back to us after delivery thanks to the prepaid postage so that we can use it again and again. The idea is to move from a linear model of waste creation to a circular model and this is very appealing because they feel that there is a real approach and that it's not just a pseudo-eco-responsible showcase that surfs on a trend, but that there is a real in-depth work in the reflection and in the implementation.
From the beginning, I have also focused a lot on contact, closeness to clients, and responsiveness in order to respond quickly to their requests and needs.

The good thing about being a small company is that we don't offer an impersonal experience like some of the big retailers. 

And the service, which is quite unique, of offering customers to pay once they have tried it? Where did you get this idea?
I was talking earlier about the notion of service and customer experience, which is also at the heart of Clother's proposal: it is really an eco-responsible offer with the most comfortable customer experience possible, these are the two legs on which Clother tries to move forward.
So the try-before-you-pay service is very much in line with this approach. The first reason is that when you're a site that's not known, that offers brands that are not known, and you have to convince people to try something with us, you have to find ways of reassuring them and establishing trust. It's reassuring for customers to know that they can place an order and that they can try it on before they are charged. I've had customers not keep any of the items they ordered. It's one less barrier to try something that is new and unfamiliar.
It is also true that in online fashion consumption, return rates are high because customers can hesitate about the size, colour etc. So the idea is to offer them the sizes and colours that they can try on at home without having to pay for them straight away and to avoid having to return packages. So the idea is to offer them to order sizes and colours that they can try on at home without having to pay for them straight away and to avoid having to return packages. In everything we do at Clother the idea is to have an eco-responsible foundation. 
 
Can you tell me a bit about the other services you have developed at Clother?
Still around the notion of service and practicality, returns are free because I believe that if we offer people the opportunity to try on several sizes and several colours, it is quite natural that they can return what they don't keep without it costing them money.
We offer different delivery methods depending on the needs of our customers: "click and collect" for people in the vicinity, home delivery with reusable parcels or also in partner shops. I wanted to develop a network of eco-responsible partner shops where customers can have their parcels delivered, which gives them flexibility in opening hours and also allows them to create a close link with these shops which are located in their neighbourhood, just a stone's throw from their home.
Another very important point in Switzerland is the customs duties; today, even if there are some eco-responsible brands in Switzerland, there are many more in France, Italy, Spain or Portugal, so part of the range offered by Clother comes from these countries. The specificity of Clother is that it is not a marketplace, so the stock is already based in Switzerland and the customs procedures are carried out by Clother beforehand, which means that customers receive a parcel that comes from Switzerland and is not subject to any customs duties. And this also means much easier returns. So this is a big plus for customers who have certainly experienced the hassle of shipping from abroad.
A practical question, if the customer decides to send the package back by post, does he/she receive a shipping label?
Absolutely, everything is already in the package. Either they have received their parcel, they don't keep everything and want to send back a few items and they slip the pre-printed label into the front pocket and drop the parcel off at the post office, or they keep everything and the parcel turns into a small pre-stamped envelope that they just slip into any post office letterbox and Clother collects it and reuses it for other parcels. 
 
You were talking about climate urgency a few minutes ago, what do you think needs to change to move faster, to ensure that the world moves faster towards keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels? 
A lot of things, but in fashion I heard the creator of Loom, an eco-responsible brand a few weeks ago, who explained in an interview that we have been educated, taken in by the big brands in a kind of programmed obsolescence of desire and that's exactly what it is, the big brands offer 36 collections a year, changes every 2 or 3 weeks in their shops and we have fallen into this logic of always more: buying more, having more clothes in the wardrobe, throwing away or getting rid of them always faster.
I think that the heart of the action is to propose another solution, desirable, pleasant for the customers and which answers another desire, that of having beautiful clothes which are manufactured not very far from one's home, in beautiful materials, the pleasure of buying a piece which will last several years, the satisfaction of having one's clothes repaired...
I think we need to succeed in making this shift in mentalities. This involves making people understand the disastrous impact of fashion today and our consumption methods on the environment, this is a step but it is not the only one.
The other step is to make sure that we offer desirable alternatives to what is offered today and this is the idea of Clother with the experience, the services, the ease, the fact that the clothes are beautiful, well cut, designed and instead of keeping them for three months and selling them second hand saying that we have done a good deed, or worse, throwing them away, we keep them for 3, 4, 5 years or more because they are made to last. 
 
Last question, a tradition from La Mèche, what is the anti-environmental habit you find hard to break?
The car, still a little too much unfortunately. It's a dilemma and a constant discussion in my head, how I can use it less! But I'm not there yet, unfortunately, because the flexibility of the timetable, the speed, the infrastructure, the distances I sometimes have to travel mean that I haven't yet managed to organise myself to do without it as I would like.

 

Thanks Benjamin, see you soon!
Thanks to you!

You too can tell us your stories that can inspire us all! If you want to try your hand at the Proust questionnaire or share your experience, your commitment, your tips or your gripes, go to the "Share with us" discussion forum on the La Mèche platform:

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1 Comment
  • Caris Toyon
    12:10 , 2 December 2021

    👏🏼

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