Interview Series - Inspiring Impact brand Bettersoul loves and supports
Unspun - Exclusive Interview with the founding team of Unspun
Q. Tell us about Unspun.
A: Unspun is essentially cutting-edge technology meets custom, on-demand denim. Our mission at Unspun is to reduce global human carbon footprint by 1% through intentional and automated manufacturing.
Q. What is the core technology behind Unspun and its business?
A. One of our core technologies is our 3D digital fit technology. We are the only scanner-agnostic company that can create custom fashion items from 3D body scans with over 85% first-time customer satisfaction rate. We also invented the world’s first 3D weaving technology to automate the manufacturing of custom garments, resulting in a zero waste process.
Q. How have the backgrounds of your co-founders helped to create Unspun?
A: We have a diverse team of co-founders whose backgrounds and experiences have allowed us to create a cutting-edge company.
Beth is a product developer and fiber scientist by training and she developed the initial idea of borrowing inspirations from the 3D printing world to apply them to the fashion industry. Walden is a company builder within the consumer sector and helped bring this concept to life by creating the industry’s first body scan to custom jeans concept, connecting with the rest of the industry to co-innovate. Kevin develops the core software and hardware technologies that power the company’s on-demand model and additive manufacturing processes.
Q. How does Unspun bring positive impact to the fashion industry? Why is this significant?
A: Scientifically, we conducted our first life cycle assessment (LCA) and concluded that our jeans save about 24% of carbon emissions compared to an industry equivalent pair of jeans through diverting waste away from landfill, using responsible fabrics, drastically reducing returns, and extending durability of products.
We also work with a startup based in Belgium, Resortecs, that creates a stitching thread that fuses at 220C, which will enable us to recycle our jeans end-of-life at scale. To further our efforts in creating circular products, we joined Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign Program.
The climate challenge is one of the most daunting issues of our generation. The fashion industry is extremely fragmented, and its absolute and relative impact is growing every day. Our humble hope is that if insignificant companies like ours can make a small but fundamental change, then surely more sizable and sophisticated companies must be able to do more.
Q. How is Unspun helping companies to be more responsible and help change the traditional retail supply chain?
A: We work with fashion retailers to help implement a zero-inventory on-demand model by working with their designers to create custom clothing based on their design vision. We also collaborate with garment factories to set up made-to-measure supply chains to ensure efficiency, accuracy and agility.
We have found that many more companies are now recognizing the need to build a resilient and responsive supply chain during the pandemic at a time when disruptions are rippling through the system.
Q. How is Unspun helping consumers to be environmentally-conscious and helping them be conscious consumers without them even knowing?
A: Our conviction is that fashion products need to look fabulous on the consumer and be extremely comfortable to wear.
That is the bottom-line. Instead of creating two or three or four pieces in a trial-and-error process, we have just iterated on our mistakes and built intelligence into our products so that we can simply create that one product that we know our customers would absolutely love and wear.
On the foundation of this relationship, we then have an opportunity to talk about why this matters. We do not believe that guilt-tripping consumers into “sustainable consumption” is the way to go.
Q. Unspun has recently opened up pop-up stores. How do they work?
A: Pop-up stores are the most direct way for customers to access us, ask us any questions about the process, and to learn more about the future of fashion. In every pop-up store, we employ a zero-inventory model and focus exclusively on the customer experience. We have a body scanner, a selection of fabrics, and run hands-on digital fashion workshops. We have launched our mobile scanning and offer virtual appointments. Curious minds can check them out here
Q. Why did Unspun decide to create jeans as its first product?
A: When we started, we spoke with over 300 customers. We learned from their experiences in changing rooms, looked at their closets, documented their pain-points and discovered that over 70% of both male and female customers have fit issues with jeans.
Ultimately, we wanted to make the biggest positive impact, and given how environmentally polluting jeans production is, we thought starting with jeans would allow us to create the biggest delta.
Q. Unspun has both the hardware and software sides of the business; can you share any interesting partnerships you have made so far?
A: One of the publicly announced brands we are partnering with is a European brand called Weekday, it’s a brand under the H&M Group.
Q. Unspun’s model focuses on customization. While there is an increasing interest in greater customization, how quickly do you think the average consumer will be comfortable about customization and wearing clothes based on their exact body measurements (data-points)? Is there a way to accelerate this trend?
A: The pandemic has taught all of us the power of essentialism – that we don’t need those ten pairs of ill-fitting pants. I think that mentality will carry us through for a while. Beyond that, we just have to ruthlessly focus on creating the best products, and keep an open collaborative spirit because we cannot do everything on our own.
Q. What part of Unspun excites you the most for the coming era?
A: The temptation is to say that we will build the supply chain of the future, starting with jeans. But as one of our engineers would say, the best thing we can do is to empower the humans.
Our baby girl turned two recently. It dawned on me that what we collectively do has serious implications beyond the span of our time here on Earth. It is just humbling that we get to work on a product that can touch everyone’s lives today and give our next generations hope and a fighting chance. That excites me.
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