‘The new era has a lot to do with the good old days’
This very wise sentence is not from me, but I had to think about it very often lately. Personally, I would say that the last three years have already been pretty crazy, but 2020 was also beyond my imagination. The plans of few were also different at the beginning of the year….
It was essential for the development of the 2020 models that I could still buy fabrics in Italy in February, very close to the European border closures. The subsequent lock down gave few and me, like everyone else, first of all the mammoth task of radical acceptance. Although I personally coped quite well with the new situation and even enjoyed being at home, the question quickly arose as to how few should, wanted and had to deal with the new situation from an entrepreneurial point of view.
During this time, I received even more newsletters and offers from well-known fashion brands, and I asked myself daily whether these companies had any other problems at the moment than, for example, broadband Internet in a fully occupied three-party house or a stable Netflix connection?
This is of course not meant seriously, because the answer is of course quite clear: no they had no major problem! Suddenly, unexpectedly, everything comes to a standstill and the system that had been built up and puffed up over decades could no longer be maintained from one day to the next. The demand on us consumers to consume more and more and more was simply no longer met or could not be met by the closed retail sector.
At the risk of repeating myself, we at few still see conscious consumption as the most honest form of sustainability, which is why I also decided at the beginning of the pandemic to completely refrain from advertising products for the time being. However, it is important for me to emphasize that I could only afford the luxury of this decision, of course, because the current lean structures at few do not yet include responsibility for others. A point that I will certainly take into account for future growth.
But, things usually turn out differently than you think….
A dear friend wrote a very nice and kind article about few, the foundation and the background, which the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung kindly published on Whitsunday. I emphasize this day because it is one of those days when suddenly everything changes.
So there I was, standing most nervously in the gas station on Sunday morning, leafing through the newspaper and being incredibly impressed that a single man (Bastian Schweinsteiger) gets a whole page in the FAZ Sunday edition…
A few pages further and close to fainting, THE article… a full page, beautifully written and better presented than I could have ever wished for
The next few days were crazy… and I overwhelmed with the new reach and presence as well as equally overwhelmed beyond measure. On this way I still apologize to everyone whose emails and messages they sent me in the aftermath of the article I still haven’t answered… Sorry!
There were so many orders as never before in the young existence of few. I was paralyzed and I am aware that not everything went as I would have liked, but together with my really fantastic network, we faced and overcame all the challenges. I was rewarded with a lot of positive, nice and constructive feedback.
Of course, this phase raised a lot of questions, and I am still trying to find the answers to some of them. During the overload, there were times when I wondered whether I should continue with few and whether it was really what I had imagined. I can answer this question with a very clear YES!
Things have to change…
We all feel and know that things (have to) change. For few, this clearly means the development towards greater growth. Rightly, everyone is now wondering how someone who never tires of emphasizing that less consumption is the only true form of sustainability, plans with higher growth therefore also with increasing consumption. Isn’t that inconsistent? I think not!
few sees itself as a consumer brand that offers people an alternative, an alternative with high quality at a fair price. An alternative to a mass of fast-moving and not particularly sustainable consumption.
There is no expectation that everyone owns all the models offered by few, but if there is a need or desire, we wish to be your sustainable alternative! As a consumer, I know that there are still many products that, as long as a trend towards nudity does not prevail, we will always need or sometimes simply want.
Getting back to the headline, the new era has a lot in common with the good old days for me, especially in terms of craftsmanship. Except for the few key blazer, which is made in a family-run small manufactory in Italy, all other few models are currently still sewn in our own few atelier in Germany.
In the last few months, I have therefore regained a very precise idea of how much human strength, effort and skill it takes to make one of our garments. Of course, there is already a high degree of automation here, but without tailors, seamstresses, ironers, embroiderers and many other people in production preparation, it just doesn’t work. The fact that all this work costs nothing at the other end of the world or in the nearer European countries does not make the whole thing any better.
In the course of these considerations I remembered the beginnings of few, why which structural decisions were made. Direct selling was a clear decision for higher quality at an affordable price, but also a conscious exit from the common system of classic fashion retail that is/was associated with many expectations of the product range and pricing. This year in particular has shown that few has retained a great deal of freedom as a result.
As a realist, I know that this ease of decision-making will and must change, but what I want to hold on to is the freedom to make decisions, if somehow possible, not based on fear, because as we all know, that is often not a good advisor.
This is certainly the earliest review and outlook of the year and who knows what the next two months will bring us. But what we certainly know, not just since this year, is that nothing is more constant than change and it’s up to us how we deal with it.