Otrium, known for its digital fashion marketplace, has unveiled a dedicated garment refurbishment and repair programme in collaboration with Bleckmann. The partnership which dates back to 2020, leverages the expertise of Bleckmann’s circular fashion team, known as The Renewal Workshop, to tackle the issue of damaged returns and reduce the fashion industry’s contribution to landfills and waste.
Key to the success of this partnership was Bleckmann’s integrated data capabilities. Tamara Zwart, director of renewal at Bleckmann, emphasised the importance of data collection and analysis in sustainability initiatives: “Using our advanced stock tracking systems, we determined that 70% of the renewed Otrium stock had been sold within seven weeks.”
Kevin Carolan, director of logistics at Otrium added: “We are happy that we can use our position in the fashion supply chain to create lasting change and accelerate towards our mission of reducing the volume of garments that go to landfill.”
In April 2023 both companies embarked on a three-month pilot programme at Bleckmann’s facility in Almelo, the Netherlands to expand the range of repair services and optimise processes through data analysis.
During this pilot phase, The Renewal Workshop team at Bleckmann successfully refurbished more than 1,000 returned garments, shoes, and accessories for Otrium each month.
Marlot Kiveron, head of sustainability at Otrium, explained the necessity of developing an efficient solution for a diverse product range: “The Renewal Workshop team worked closely with us to develop a streamlined and scalable process that could grow in line with our ambitions, delivering like-new repairs at the speed of e-commerce. Their combination of purpose, professionalism, agility, and expertise makes them the ideal partner for this kind of project.”
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The motivation behind the pilot scheme lies in the belief from both firms that a significant portion of returned clothing can be restored and resold. Carolan stated: “Preventing waste is an important part of Otrium’s DNA, and thanks to our partnership with Bleckmann and their Renewal Workshop team, we can now repair the majority of damaged returns and put them back into circulation.”.
Carbon-tracking start-up, Vaayu revealed that, on average, a refurbished return sold on Otrium avoids 2,760kg of carbon emissions and 69g of waste. The fashion outlet platform partnered with Vaayu back in June on a “first-of-its-kind” investigation into the carbon emissions and waste-saving potential of off-price business models.
Looking ahead, Otrium, Bleckmann, and The Renewal Workshop plan to expand the initiative beyond the pilot phase. By the end of 2023, the companies aim to repair at least 25,000 damaged garments.
Kiveron said: “This project is a milestone in our sustainability journey … we’re well on our way to proving that this circular business model can be a valuable part of our future growth.”