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Many brands pay lip service to sustainability, but newcomer Onsloe was built around the concept. The label, which launched in May 2020, sources small runs of British, Italian and Japanese fabrics to produce made-to-order menswear staples ranging from selvedge jeans to cashmere blazers. Nothing enters production until a client places an order, and finished garments can be received in as little as 10 days.
“The whole idea of Onsloe is averting the traditional model that always existed in fashion, which is to buy a lot of inventory and then sell from your inventory,” says Bjorn Bengtsson, a 35-year veteran of the fashion industry who assists Onsloe in an advisory role.
Onsloe’s on-demand manufacturing model reduces waste, but it also allows each Onsloe garment to be customized. In the case of an overshirt, you might select your preferred body length, collar style and the presence or absence of a pocket; a sport coat may require choosing between flapped or patch pockets and either center or side vents. And most everything is monogram-able, in multiple locations.
While current sizing options allow clients to specify inseam lengths or decide between regular or slim-fitting shirts, the brand is beta testing an app that will allow customers to upload their measurements by scanning themselves. According to Bengtsson, the resulting measurements have a 95 percent accuracy rate, “which means that we don’t even have to ask you for your size. We will make it automatically.” (The digital tool is expected to launch at the end of February).
As part of its commitment to buying limited fabric quantities, Onsloe sources from higher-end mills with smaller minimums. This has allowed the label to offer Crombie coats in Shetland wool provided by Scotland’s renowned Lovat mill, and jackets made from heavyweight Japanese denim woven on vintage looms.
About half of Onsloe’s assortment will change season-to-season, and existing rolls of fabric may be utilized in new styles. In the instance that Onsloe finds itself with a little extra fabric on its hands, the brand will attempt to use it in any way that it can. As an example, Bengtsson describes using surplus shirt fabric to produce pajamas.
“Instead of taking a markdown and getting rid of them, we still use it to make affordable pajamas,” he says. “We’re not going to make a lot of money on it, but we’re still going to use it for something.”
In addition, Onsloe hopes that its customers won’t throw their garments away. To help avert this, the label has instituted a three-year “wear-no-tear” warranty, which allows customers to ship back garments that have suffered from typical signs of wear—such as spots or busted seams—for repair at no expense to the client, other than the cost of initial shipping.
But in the instance that one of its garments is facing the landfill, Onsloe would prefer to be its final destination instead. Via its “take-back” program, clients can contact customer service to receive a shipping label to send the garment back to its maker. Bengtsson, a longtime vintage lover, hopes that the retired garments can be re-used to produce one-of-a-kind pieces.
“Instead of throwing this away, I make a new jacket, or I make a new shirt, or a laptop cover,” he says. “Whatever it is, it deserves to live another life.”
As the brand is only in its infancy, it may be a few years until the take-back program bears fruit. But for now, it may mean that one less shirt or sweater sees the landfill, and for Onsloe, that seems like reason enough.