‘The new time has a lot to do with the good old time’.
This very wise sentence is not mine, but I have had to think about it very often lately. Personally I would say that the last three years have been pretty crazy, but 2020 was also beyond my imagination. The plans of few were also different at the beginning of the year…
For the development of the 2020 styles it was essential that I was still able to buy fabrics in Italy in February, very close to the European border closures. The subsequent lock down gave few and me, like everyone else, 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 in an entrepreneurial way.
I felt that there were even more newsletters and offers from well-known fashion brands during this time and I asked myself daily whether these companies had no other problems at the moment than, for example, broadband internet in a fully occupied three-party house or a stable Netflix connection…
Of course, this is not completely serious, because the answer is of course quite clear: no they did not have a bigger problem! Suddenly, unexpectedly, everything came to a standstill and the system that had been built up and exaggerated over decades could no longer be maintained from one day to the other. The demand on us consumers to buy more and more was simply no longer met or could not be met by the closed retail stores.
At the risk of repeating myself, at few we still see conscious consumption as the most honest form of sustainability, which is why, at the beginning of the pandemic, I had decided to completely refrain from advertising products for the time being. However, it is important for me to say that I could only afford the luxury of this decision 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, mostly it comes differently than one thinks…
A dear friend wrote a very nice and kind article about few, its foundation and background, which the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung kindly published on Whit Sunday. I emphasize this day because it is one of those days when suddenly everything changes.
So there I was, standing nervously in the gas station on Sunday morning, leafing through the newspaper and was incredibly impressed that a single man (Bastian Schweinsteiger) got a whole page in the Sunday edition of the FAZ…
A few pages further and close to fainting, THE article… a whole page, beautifully written and better presented than I could ever have wished for!
The next few days were crazy… and I was overwhelmed with the new reach and presence, and at the same time overwhelmed. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to everyone whose emails and messages they sent me after the article was published and I still haven’t answered… Sorry!
There were more orders than ever before in the young existence of few. I was paralyzed and I am aware that not everything went as I would have wished, but together with my really fantastic network, we accepted and overcame all challenges. few was rewarded with a lot of sympathetic, beautiful and constructive feedback.
Of course this phase raised (very) many questions, some answers I am still on the trail. In the overwhelming demand, it was clear whether to continue with few and whether it is really what I had imagined. I can answer this question with a very clear YES!
Things must change…
We all feel and know that things (must) change. For few, this clearly means the development towards greater growth. And rightly so, everyone is asking themselves now like someone who never tires of emphasizing that less consumption is the only true form of sustainability, and who is planning for higher growth with increasing consumption. Is that not inconsistent? I do not think so!
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 very sustainable consumption.
There is no expectation that everyone will own 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 we will continue to need or sometimes simply want as long as a trend towards nudity does not prevail.
To get back to the headline, the new era has a lot to do with the good old days, especially in terms of craftsmanship. Except for the few key blazer, which is made in a family-run small factory in Italy, all other few styles are currently still sewn in our own few atelier in Germany.
In the last few months I have therefore again had 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, but without tailors, seamstresses, ironers, embroiderers and many other people in the production preparation department, it just won’t work. The fact that all this work doesn’t cost anything on the other side of the world or in nearby European countries doesn’t 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 consumer selling was a clear decision for higher quality at an affordable price, but also a conscious departure from the current system of classic fashion retailing, which is/was associated with many expectations in terms of product range and pricing. This year in particular has shown that few has gained 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 at all possible, not on the basis of fear, which, as we all know, is often not a good advisor.
This is certainly the earliest review and outlook for the year and who knows what the next two months will bring us. But what we certainly did not only know this year is that nothing is more constant than change and it is up to us how we deal with it.