What we've learnt from Lost Stock

As brands and retailers cancelled billions of dollars worth of completed goods due to the pandemic, in many cases with no payments being made, we decided to do something about it and set up an initiative called Lost Stock. 

This initiative saw us buy the cancelled goods directly from factories and sell it to consumers as a ‘surprise’ box of clothes linked to their tastes and size. For every box bought we supported the factories that had been decimated by these cancelled orders and we donated to an NGO in Bangladesh called SAJIDA Foundation to support a garment worker and her family for a week. 

Seeing the hardship and waste during this time, coupled with our years of experience in using data to help retailers make better buying decisions, showed us that this industry is broken at its core and that long term change was needed. 

It also showed us that if we believe in something we shouldn’t just talk about it, we should roll our sleeves up and make a difference. We should build something that tackles the problems… For years we’ve asked brands to be better – now we think it’s time to just build a better brand. 

With Lost Stock in over 7 months we sold 125,000 mystery boxes of clothes to 110,000 customers in 10 different countries. We bought cancelled lines from 50 different brands and we helped over 113,000 people in Bangladesh who were facing serious hardship through our partners, SAJIDA Foundation. To do this we built a totally new way of shopping and a global supply chain from scratch - during the middle of a global pandemic.

Doing this was full of challenges and, as with anything new of this scale, we got plenty of things wrong as we did it. 

Before starting This is Unfolded we reviewed the whole Lost Stock project in depth to help us understand what worked really well and where we needed to improve to ensure that together we can create long term change in this industry and positively impact millions of lives going forward. 

With this in mind we’ve done the following: 

Managing demand

With Lost Stock we started out aiming to sell 10,000 boxes and sold 125,000 instead. This meant we had to rapidly scale up everything we were doing. With This is Unfolded we’ve capped the number of orders in the first collection, once they’re gone they really are gone! 

Supply chain

By capping the volume and integrating with a new logistics partner we’re able to have significantly more control over the supply chain. Our packing warehouse is now 50km away from our factory partner, ensuring as soon as your products are finished they can be moved into packing. 

Value driven

With Lost Stock every box was made up to feature clothes that had a minimum value of £70 at RRP (Retailer Recommended Price). With This is Unfolded we’re not comparing ourselves to anyone. We know we’re great value, and we spend more on the products you receive than a normal highstreet retailer would. 

Surprise, surprise

When we launched Lost Stock we weren’t sure how people would react to buying a surprise box of clothes, turns out a lot of people loved it but longer term recognise choice can be important. After speaking to hundreds of you over the past weeks we know that this approach might not always be the best. That’s why with This is Unfolded you can select the products you want in your order, or you can still select to pick a mystery item to add some surprise to your shopping. 

Swap off

We loved seeing people swap products through the communities that grew around Lost Stock and the positive experiences people had around this. That’s why we decided to make it even easier with This is Unfolded, and we’ve partnered with Royal Mail to power our swaps. This means you can send on an item from your order to someone in the community, a friend or one of our donation partners and we’ll pick up the bill. 

Long term impact

Lost Stock was designed to help tackle the humanitarian crisis that was created for garment workers due to Covid, but it didn’t address the fundamental flaws in the retail model. 

With This is Unfolded we’re going further. We’re focused on creating long term impact that allows fashion to be a force for good. 

Come and join us in making the change!

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