In conversation with Chessa Nilsen, Global Production Manager- Dressman.
Q.Brief Background of the Company. Tell us about your brand journey and what makes it sustainable.
A. First established in Norway in 1967, Dressmann, is a menswear company operating in Northern Europe, with headquarters in Norway. We aim to be the first choice of men purchasing clothes in the Nordic region. As part of our parent company, Varner, Dressmann has signed the Sustainable Cotton Communiqué, where we have pledged to source all our cotton from sustainable sources by 2025. Within this commitment, we have identified Fairtrade
certified cotton as one of these sources. This is part of our total fibre strategy, which encompasses all fibre types and focuses on preferred materials sourcing. Both in our fibre sourcing and manufacturing methods, we aim to produce products that create the least possible negative impact.
Q.Dressman partners with many certified labels. Do you find them complimentary or compatible with each other?
A. Dressmann has focused on certified fibers when we have made sustainable fiber choices, as we believe this gives confidence to the consumer in terms of transparency and traceability.
Q.How long have Dressman been working with Fairtrade and what was the one facet that got this partnership started?
A. Dressmann started the partnership with Fairtrade in 2017. Our decision to start sourcing Fairtrade certified cotton was based on the Fairtrade profile, and how the system addresses not only environmental issues, but social and economic challenges as well.
Q.How many Fairtrade Cotton Producers in Asia does Dressman source from? What is the annual volume off-take and how do you see the trend going forward.
A. We have sourced from two producers, Nobel Ecotech and Suminter India Organics. Our annual sales volume in garments was 1.3 million garments in 2018. We anticipate that we will maintain this volume in 2019, and gradually increase going forward.
Q.In terms of quality and volume what does Dressman expect from its supply chain partners?
A. Dressmann has a series of quality requirements for our suppliers, as well as chemical, ethical and social responsibility requirements for all our garment manufacturers. Our code of conduct and factory lists are published on our website: http://varner.com/en/sustainability/people/
Q.What are your global sales volume of Fairtrade garments both Online and Retail? Do you see a trend in consumer awareness and preferences for ethically sourced products?
A. Our annual sales volumes of Fairtrade garments is 1.3 million pieces. We know that many consumers are very interested in ethical sourcing, and transparency in supply chains, though we are not certain how much of our sales have been influenced by these trends.
Q.How much part does pricing play in influencing consumer choices for you products?
A.Dressmann’s market profile is high quality for a reasonable price, so our strategy when implementing Fairtrade certified cotton in our running products was to maintain the pricing, and not pass the upcharge to the consumer.
Q.Which are your main markets and do you see any potential in expanding to the Global south?
A. Our main markets are Norway, Sweden and Finland. We plan to expand our online sales markets within the near future.
Q.How do you think big brands can influence the purchasing power of consumers? which in turn can support cotton producers to better access the global market.
A. Offering more sustainably produced products at a reasonable price removes the financial barrier for the consumer. Our belief is that one aspect of being a responsible retailer is to make sustainably sourced products accessible, not an exclusive luxury commodity.
Q.As the world’s largest fashion fair in Fairtrade in 2018 with the launch of basic garments, what is the next exciting launch with Fairtrade Label?
A. Dressmann has launched some new denim styles recently, our current assortment includes six different options made with Fairtrade certified cotton.
Q.How can NAPP extend its support for further strengthening the supply chain? Any particular segment you would like to see the focus on?
A. Keep up the good work !