Take-back: a logical next step in Asket’s  pursuit of less

To keep in line with their mission to slow down fashion, Asket will repair, renew and resell what they can and upcycle, downcycle or recycle what they can't within their new take-back model.

By Maya Classen

the team

Asket are an independent menswear brand with the mission to ‘slow down the fashion industry through honest production, transparent pricing and revolutionary sizing’. 
Bard Bringéus
Nilsson Dworsky
Operations & Customer Experience Manager

the urgency

From the moment they were founded, Asket took a clear stance against fast fashion and its exploitation of human and planetary resources.

Core to their brand is an intention to restore the value of garments by creating meaningful and durable essentials. Therefore, the development of a circular business model was a natural next step for the Asket team, which would allow them to truly maximise the use of their garments by taking responsibility beyond the point of sale.

The customer need

The Asket circular business model serves two distinct customer needs. Their take-back programme offers loyal Asket customers—who are already conscious of their clothing consumption—a convenient and responsible way to dispose of clothes that they no longer use. At the same time, through their resale model, Asket aims to offer high quality, timeless basics to those for whom high prices constituted a barrier to responsible consumption.

The business model

The resale model will be launched with a geographical focus on Sweden and Germany. In both geographies, Asket will offer free returns for take-back. From a financial perspective, their objective is to make the circular business model at least self-sufficient. As with many circular business models, the business case is sensitive to key metrics like the collected items’ resellable rate, repair rate and resale value. The Asket team hopes to support the collection of high volumes of quality products through a variable reward structure. 

The expected positive impact

For Asket, a clear goal is to maximise the use phase of their garments so that they can contribute to decreased levels of production and consumption within the industry. In order to realise this goal, it is crucial for them to safeguard the impact of their new business model as it rolls out. Key considerations in managing the impact of their resale model include 1) ensuring they do not heavily incentivise customers to dispose of their garments before they otherwise would have and 2) not to stimulate further consumption in any way. In addition, they are careful to minimise shipping and other operational impacts throughout the new supply chain.

The prototype

To test their business case Asket rolled out a prototype in the beginning of 2020 in Sweden and Germany. They emailed 1500 customers to offer them a limited trade-in opportunity. Customers who registered within seven days had the chance to trade-in their Asket garments via mail with a prepaid shipping label in exchange for a reward. Asket tested three different reward tiers: low and high rewards, which were dependent on the type of garment that was traded in, or a fixed reward, independent of what customers would send in. While the conversion rate was highest for the high reward group, the quality and quantity of clothing was best for the fixed reward group. Asket also learned that convenience is key after experiencing a drop in completion rate (sending the garment(s) in after receiving shipping label) due to shipping issues in Sweden. To increase engagement in the pilot launching 2021, Asket now wants to focus on their marketing strategy as well as ensuring the convenience of the trade-in process for their customers.

Hurdles and lessons learnt

One of the key hurdles that Asket encountered whilst prototyping their circular business model was a low participation rate from their customers. In Asket’s case, this wasn’t necessarily a bad sign, but rather reflected how sustainability-minded their target customer is, as they ordinarily wear their Asket products until tear. Understanding this, Asket decided to put more focus on the take-back aspect of the model, rather than the resale part, and ensure that it is as convenient as possible for their customers to responsibly dispose of their Asket products at eventual end-of-use. 

Meanwhile, the circular innovation process itself challenged the Asket team to step out of their comfort zone and to explore the full range of possible solutions available to them. They learnt that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ circular business model and rather, saw that they needed to design a concept that uniquely fitted with their brand values, their product and their customer.

What’s next?

Asket will launch their resale pilot in 2021, starting off with the introduction of the new take-back system in spring followed by the first resale pop-up events in summer. Asket expects their circular business model to be profitable after seven to eight years, through the organic growth of the program. In the meantime, in line with their brand’s vision, the team aims to learn from the pilot in order to maximise the longevity of each Asket garment.

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