Welcome back to another captivating episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast. In today's edition, we have the pleasure of interviewing William Green, Co-Founder of L'Estrange London, a brand on a remarkable mission to simplify the male wardrobe in a world dominated by hyper-convenience and overconsumption.
Join us as our host, Peter Brooker, engages in an enlightening conversation with William, exploring the vision and focus of L'Estrange London, as well as the significant progress they have made over the past three years. Discover their revolutionary modular clothing system, meticulously designed to offer comfortable, seasonless, and versatile pieces that can effortlessly transition between any setting. By embracing the ethos of "fewer things, fewer decisions," L'Estrange London aims to minimize both the environmental impact and the clutter in the male wardrobe, allowing individuals to prioritize what truly matters.
Designed in London and meticulously crafted in European factories, L'Estrange London has reimagined every stage of the clothing lifecycle, striving to conserve resources and enhance the longevity of their garments. Delve into their groundbreaking initiatives, such as Re_Work, a dedicated project focused on revitalizing clothing and bringing it back to life. Moreover, explore the innovative Re_Fresh, a unique enzyme-driven laundry tablet that has the remarkable ability to rejuvenate old clothing, making it look and feel new again.
This episode is an opportunity to gain valuable insights into the remarkable innovations spearheaded by L'Estrange London in extending the lifecycle of garments and promoting sustainability within the fashion industry. Discover the intricacies of selling pre-owned clothing, the science behind the transformative Re-Fresh, and the brand's commitment to driving positive change.
Join us as we delve into the visionary journey of L'Estrange London, a brand that embodies the essence of simplicity, sustainability, and mindful consumption. Be inspired by their dedication to redefining the male wardrobe and their relentless pursuit of a more conscious and impactful approach to fashion.
Hello, welcome back to another episode of the menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Berger. And today on the show, we have returning guest will green co founder of strange London. And yeah in the chat we discover more about the journey, what they've been up to, in the last three years some innovation products that I think you'll like, but a little bit about the strange London in a world of hyper convenience and overconsumption. They want to strip away complexity from your everyday, they're modular clothing system compromises comfortable, easy to pair versatile pieces designed to be worn in any setting, fewer things mean fewer decisions, less impact on the planet, and more time to focus on what's important. And here to tell us more about L'Estrange, London is co founder will green.Unknown:
So strange. So we're a menswear brand. And our proposition really is about trying to provide an essential wardrobe for men in order to kind of invest in a timeless set of products that that last a lifetime. And we're really driven by this idea of of essentialism. And essentialism is really about it's kind of a philosophy of living, that that ask you to question what is of real value and what is what what what is important in your life. And, and to be therefore quite intentional about the things that you own. And by extension, the products that that we sell, we think fulfil that objective of providing the tools for an essentialist way of life. And the outcome of that really is that you don't need as much stuff, we think that the fashion industry is is a kind of circus of of, of newness, and much of that newness is is really superfluous in nature. And we want to provide an offering to people to be able to move in the other direction. So we have this kind of embedded strap line of with less do more, which really is applicable to many things beyond beyond clothing, but it's really in the context of the wardrobe, it's, you know, you really can do more, with less items. And, and, and that's, that's what we do.PB:
That's interesting that you say that, because I've, I've just moved a load of stuff from my mom's place that had stood over there back here to my home in chyzyk. And I do feel like we spent half of our life collecting stuff and the other half going down to Oxfam, and getting rid of it all, or wherever you might want to, you know, put your secondhand stuff. It's but what I what I really liked about the strange was going across the website and having a look at all the clothes is how interchangeable the garments are. So you might have perhaps five or six garments if you want to shop for you. But then you can make those garments and give them all the miles you want and stretch them out and make them for different occasions and because they don't have like they're not so logo heavy and they're not. So fashion lead, or that's the right way of saying it is that how you envisage the back of the brand at the beginning was to kind of make all of the garments interchange with one another.Unknown:
Yeah, so we so we call it the modular wardrobe. And exactly that, you know, each product is a module and they're all interchangeable. What we, we like the idea obviously, this doesn't actually happen in reality, but if you could get dressed in the dark, that'd be a great way to dress and that's it you know, any any of the products go together and it's designed to be actually delivering quite a maximal variation in in in the products in the way that you're wearing them but you're just doing it with with very few.PB:
I'm smiling because I actually do get changed in the dark in the morning because I'm always first up and I've got a walk dog and I kind of fumble around with the torchlight on my phone at best because I don't want to wake my girlfriend up and the second that I can't find anything and I might just have to put on a little lamp in the corner. It's always my eyes, my eyes. What are the Gremlins like I've just put on, you know, flashlights or something. So yeah, it's a skill sets. DoUnknown:
it's a similar story for me with my wife, and we've got a newborn in the bedroom at the moment. So it's sort of creep open the door, there is a bit of light coming through from from the windows, but it's you know, it's just you just take the thing that's on the top of the pile, you know, there's no, there's no thinking or kind of, you know, opportunity to just size out what you've got, it just needs to it just needs to just work whatever you grab.PB:
Yeah, you can't like do a quick mini fashion reel for Instagram, or, you know, come get dressed with me in the morning or anything like that. Yeah, exactly,Unknown:
Well, perhaps so because we spoke want to say last back in May 2020, what's happened in the last three years, you know, outside of you having a kid obviously, but for the brand, what's really developed with the brand, would you say in that time, since we last spokeUnknown:
I think the areas I've been most excited about, over the last couple of years is really developing our products, and some projects that we brought to life that are sort of extracurricular to the core wardrobe, we have this sort of thesis of looking at the entire lifecycle of a product, and it's our kind of duty, as designers to to think about how we can sort of engineer the lifetime to become longer at every phase of, of that lifecycle. And one such places is where products start to lose their their lustre. And, you know, particularly, I'm sure we've all experienced, you know, some nice, rich black T shirts, or, you know, net and navy pair of, of cotton trousers that, you know, after some time, they just start to lose that that vibrancy that you get when you take them out the box. So it was incredibly exciting, we launched a product called refresh, which is a tablet that when you put it in the wash it acts as a gentle exfoliant on the front of fabrics, and incredibly brings back the colour to these to these fibres. What's the weirdest part is the weirdest part of this is we we couldn't find this product anywhere else on the market. So it was actually a world first. But by our by our, by our research, never had this chemistry been been brought to the consumer in in the way that we we brought it so that was so that was super exciting. And we've had incredible feedback from that and kind of onward. opportunities and doors that have been opened, with some people coming out of the woodwork would like to partner with us and really just cementing our, our vision into this broader perspective that we we really must slow the fashion industry down. And it's not just a case of looking at how to lower the impact of products, but it's actually a lot to do with how we can use those products and extend the lives of those products. So refreshed launched last August. And we've continued to push in the direction of of what we call life care. And we have another project that is close to Epic to execution called ribeye and it's kind of what we see as this sort of service offering that all around repair and rejuvenation and and life extension ReadyNAS and other such projects, which we hope to be able to kind of like you would imagine bringing back a pair of churches, you know, is itPB:
a is it a product, is it something pub or is it something like a service soUnknown:
this is so this is so where Refresh is a product redial as a service, but it's sort of into intersects with that process of wanting to rejuvenate the colour in clothes and I think this will be something you know, I wouldn't say the technology is is is nearly as innovative as as refresh. You know, reading fabrics is something which is quite available on the market but doing it as a service in the context of clothing I think actually is it particularly in ITU at least I haven't seen anyone else that's that's doing it. And we envisage it the same way you would take a smart pair of shoes back to you back to At the brand light, you'd have your churches resold. Or, you know, as you're having the likes of adjacent marks is coming up and doing that sort of thing for for sneakers, this is the service where you actually bring back the clothes, which you know, are what you might have deemed to be at the end of their lifetime, and we will re dye them. So very near to bring that bringing that to fruition, which is, which is which is really exciting. And I think a third a third product projects, which we must have been quite near to launching around the time that we last spoke, but perhaps later in that year was was rework and rework is a, it's a it's a, it's a repair and resell programme. So we bring products back from factories that have met, perhaps missed that the quality levels that we would expect, and therefore aren't deemed to be okay to sell to market, or we've been products back which have had faults that have come through from from customers, which, you know, albeit small does happen. And we, we take these products back to our factories, fix them, repackage them, and, and then sell them as, as what we call reworked products. And there's a, you know, there's a sort of a tearing to that. So you might have a product, which is you know, as good as new. And then there might be a product which is, which is good, but you know, show signs of wear. And that's been that's actually been a huge hit, we've launched that the last two black around the last two Black, Black Friday, we've launched those we've, we've launched rework, the last two black Friday's and again, just a moment to really sort of build this different perception of of how we consume at points in the year where people are really on the fast on the fast pace of consumption. So it's it is really galvanising, these projects bring the team together, they're quite multi departmental, as in there, they're just very difficult to execute, because they don't fall under one person's banner. So it makes quite a challenge bringing, bringing things like this to market. And the ribeye has been a particular headache for so many people in the team, I can say. But just because you the typical functions of say. So we have, you know, a head of production, and we've got a head of impact. And we've got the head of design, and they're all required in figuring out what makes sense, you know, you're bringing back a product to which, from the production manager perspective, he's not typically involved in anything to do with end of life. So bringing a product back from the market, and then having to sort of coordinate any any type of, you know, production activity is sort of falling outside of his remit, the impact manager there has got his own intentions of like, really what needs to happen. And his vision for he's really led the process, but isn't necessarily as operationally involved. And then obviously, you've got the designer coming in and inputting on, you know, what the calibre of now the reseller of that product needs to be and how it looks so, but they will just fall out of what will you deem to be typical role? functions. So, yeah, can be quite can be quite challenging.PB:
So well, can I ask, I guess, personal question. With all of these, like projects going on, and we've maybe closed coming back and doing re dyeing and like reworking is does this kind of affect bottom lines as in terms of margin, because I guess, like most businesses want to just sell the clothes. I know, this kind of goes against the grain of your philosophy with the brand, but most businesses want to just kind of get the clothes out the door and never want to see them again. And with the the rework, for example, how that sounds like the kind of the broken biscuits aisle like you want to get the good good stuff, but then you also don't mind having something that's just slightly torn around the edges, right. So but is there? Is there enough margin in all of these projects to kind of keep you incentivize and keep this ticking over?Unknown:
Well, they're all They're all. They're all products which are sold or services that are sold, and rework is no exception. We're bringing product out that might otherwise have been written off, and selling it at a lower price to the to the core product, but by the time it actually gets back to the customer, there's often so little to be able to tell the difference, but between the the actual outcome is, is, is still a bit an extremely positive experience. And actually, I think that's, that's kind of our job is to make what might have ordinarily been perceived as being a sort of secondary sort of secondary experience, you know, or or, or or lesser experience, then the core is to say, actually, this is this is this is still absolutely fine. This is absolutely great. So there's margin to be had there. And I think experience still to be gained and sort of an elevation point, still, from the branding, from the from the brands, kind of narrative and perception. I think, I think probably what should be recognised is that we get really excited about these, these these products and projects. But not everyone cares, you know, that is a reality of, of, you know, let's call it sustainability. Somewhat, is that really sustainability is so hard to, to make it the determining factor of of a purchase for many customers. And I think, Jen, I think they, they are excited and engaged with some of those projects. But, you know, actually, what they're excited engaged about is the kind of storytelling and the narrative and the fact that we're doing that it's kind of cool, and it's, you know, something they might share in conversation. But but but maybe you know, tacitly is the is the actual impact that is being saved. As a result of these projects, the reason that they might come back to the brand, or the reason that they might share those stories with their friends, I'm not sure that actually is, but it all sort of builds into this wider, this wider kind of perspective about about who we are. So, you know, as much as I I'd like, I'd like refresh to become a major part of our, our revenue base. It's, it's not it's very, I mean, the product that the product solves is very, very inexpensive, it's, it's, it's nine pounds for for the one of these, these tablets, or I think we sell a three pack for the slightly less than, it's, it's multiple. So actually, it's features against the rest of the range is small. But I think it's again, it's all part about building that kind of continual touch point, to then bring back the story of buying less buying intentionally thinking about how you're using a garment, and how that actually can enhance the way that you're living, selfishly, to like enhance the way that you're living. And that also happens to be something which is quite compatible with with with trying to live in better harmony with the planet.PB:
Well, unless, unless Dragon's Den comes in and wants to throw like 500 grand at refreshed for a 20% stake. If you're saying that there's nothing else like that on the market, is there? Is this something that is completely innovative, that you could perhaps take on as a side? No, it's like a another part of the brand but as a completely different entity to the strange Would you consider that?Unknown:
It's funny, it's funny, you say so I can't speak to any details, particularly but these have been the on with doors that have opened. I mean, I can't say sadly, we haven't had a Dragon's Den shark come in and say, look, let's buy this part of your business and make it a separate. that's those are the doors but we've had a lot of interest in other people wanting to essentially, white label this product or buy the product directly. There is some conversation with department stores at the moment about about taking it we aren't we don't sell the product through department stores but we're considering refresh for that. It could be it could be very possibly, I think to to speak, to speak to its viability there. I think the thing about the main thing about refresh to note is it's not like a washing tablet. It's not it's it's a one time it's a one time hit. So you actually you can't sort of continually refresh garments. So I don't know that it would necessarily fall into it would it would fall into The Oh, great, we've got a fast consumable product here. I think this is possibly one of the reasons why it hasn't been brought to market before. And I think it's why, you know, why were we a small, independent menswear, British menswear label the people to bring this to market? And I think it's because we weren't looking at it from the perspective like, wow, this is a huge commercial opportunity. This is really around a deep kind of intention of intention to want to, you know, do what do what I've said, which is, you know, try and extend the life of closing, and build these relationships with products more than just, you know, a season. So, so it sort of fell to us to say, well, let's bring it to market even if it isn't, the kind of fast consuming products that you might, you might need for Procter and Gamble to come in and say let's bring it to market because this this technology has actually been around this is the weirdest thing. So it's been around for for for decades. So the our, our luck was that we were, we were essentially in the market looking for rebuy technology, and we were we were wanting to kind of bring this service to life. And we met this scientist who's been working with this technology for for decades on the on the on the industrial side on the commercial side. And he's he's been someone that's involved in Project production of fabrics, and just sort of enzymatic washes, as its, as the sort of terminology is in, in commercial parlance is, is these types of recipes are kind of available. And they use in all different ways to kind of provide finishes and different textural changes to fabric, because no one had really come in and seen it as as, as something to bring to the consumer. Because, you know, these are sort of one time things that you can do. Anyway, the long and short of it is just that it's a technology that have been around for a while no one had seen a huge commercial opportunity with it. And and ended up falling to us to bring it to life. Well, IPB:
mean, we talk about narratives, right? What better narrative to have, then coming from an honest place, just saying, Look, we're just trying to bring these clothes, these old clothes back to life and give them another few years on on the people's bodies. And now you're going well, if we can, if we can also make a huge amount out of it on the back end, then who's gonna say no? Yeah, whyUnknown:
Then yeah, maybe I deserve it. Well, well, listen, it's been great talking to you. Thanks for walking me around some of the new collections and some of the new campaigns and projects that you've got on the go. Where can people go online to see the clothes and the and the projects?Unknown:
And you can find us. So we've, we've we've got, obviously an online shop, but we've got two stores in London, one in seven dials, which is just next to Covent Garden. And we've got another inspector fields. And I don't know whether I can say but I'll say anyway, is that I think we might be, we might be opening our first international store in Amsterdam, in the coming months, so So we're in legals on that at the moment. It's not it's not finalised, so I might live to regret that. But anyway, there is intention for that for that roadmap, which is quite exciting,PB:
where it's nice to give people hope. What about online where Pete? Where can people go see you?Unknown:
So our website is the strange london.comPB:
one, four, and we'll put all the links over on the show notes. The social handles as well as L'Estrange, London, I think on Instagram. Yeah, that's right. Is that where you hang out? Are you running that channel?Unknown:
We have. We have a small team. I'd love to take credit for that for the social feeds. But But that's something which, which I'm, I'm quite arm's length on now, to be honest.PB:
Do you go to a particular shop or tours? Or do you kind of flip around between all of them?Unknown:
For your shop,PB:
or you inspect what are you in $7? Mainly?Unknown:
Elm Street. Yeah, yeah, that's the one. That's the it's next to our studio, which is in Soho. So it, it ends up being quite convenient. conveniently near Yeah.PB:
Nice. Well, thanks again. Well, great talking to you. Great catching up, and all the best for the products. Hopefully we'll we'll touch base in another couple of years once from your yacht in Monaco. Once Once the refresh tablets just hit the mass markets. But until then, great speaking to you and speak to you soon.Unknown:
Lovely stuff. All right. Thanks.PB:
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