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The End of Our Manufacturing Line

Written by Martijn Jegerings

In this image:
Per Wingaard Sjøqvist hiking up to the summit

Shot by: Dennis Corbet
-7°C
220cm
Valais, Switzerland

The last three years have been a real rollercoaster ride for us as founders and the brand Open Wear.

After a long period of trying to build the future of the brand, we have decided that it’s time to announce that we won’t be bringing new products within a foreseeable time.

The key reason for this is that we have not been able to secure enough investments to start up a new manufacturing line.

Until late summer 2018, the future of Open Wear looked very bright, we were growing quickly, selling out our products and had a whole bunch of new products in the last phase of development.

We were about to raise a round of investment, that would help bring Open Wear to the next phase of our growth.

While the last possible production deadline for the 18/19 winter was starting to get nearer and nearer, we found ourselves in the middle of a financing round. So far, so good.

“ Unfortunately, a few months before luck had started to turn against us. ”

Unfortunately, a few months before luck had started to turn against us. Our biggest investor got caught trying to purchase marijuana in Singapore and directly went to jail for this.

While it might be a minor offence, looking at it with our European eyes, it’s a very serious one in Singapore. We directly reached out to find out how he was doing, but also how it would impact his future as an investor in Open Wear.

Both he and his representatives confirmed that there would be no impact on his future investment in Open Wear. Something very crucial for us, as he committed to take up a big part of the round.

The closer we came to the final production and therefore financing deadline, the more we found out that it was very difficult to get a hard commitment to the investment. Which, unfortunately, this led to a final no, with less than two weeks to go.

All of a sudden, we were facing an almost impossible challenge to fill a huge gap in our funding round, causing us to cancel the entire round in September.

In the weeks after we went back to the drawing board, trying to figure out how to shape the future of Open Wear. Meanwhile, we kept talking to several other options in the market. As of October, we decided to pick up jobs next to Open Wear, to be able to have the most time we could get to find a solution.

In this image:
Martijn & Chris celebrating the ISPO Award back in January 2018

As a direct-to-consumer brand, we faced the fundamental challenge of financing up front each and every product we want to take into production. Of course, without being 100% sure if we will be able to also sell it. This hurdle now proved to be too big of a bottleneck for our growth.

We even tried setting up a made-to-order production but this was not feasible with the amounts we were looking at. Which led to the final conclusion, that without a properly sized collection to be sold, there is no path to a sustainable business model.

After a period of almost three years, in which we – Chris and Martijn – have invested all our personal time and money, we are forced to find other sources of income, to be able to pay our personal bills.

We are super proud of everything the Open Wear community has been able to achieve. Together, we have proven to the outerwear industry that there is a cleaner alternative. That there is no more excuse in continuing to develop unsustainable products for powder addicts.

Having developed a product range that sold out quickly, won three major industry awards (ISPO, iF and Red Dot) and most importantly has created a huge group of enthusiastic customers, we hoped to have created a bright future for our brand.

In this image:
Riding deep pow in Japan

Shot by:
Niseko Photography

In this image:
Riding deep pow in Japan

Shot by:
Niseko Photography

In this image:
Riding deep pow in Japan

Shot by:
Niseko Photography

“ We now have to accept that we won't grow to the next stage. ”

In this image:
Flurina Hill cruising down with style

Shot by:
Angelo Brack

Unfortunately, the laws of building a business are clear. From the moment we started Open Wear, we knew we would need external investments to be able to become profitable. We now have to accept that we won’t grow to the next stage.

Nevertheless, we still believe we succeeded in our initial mission to have a positive impact on our industry. Looking at collections of other brands, we finally see some brands take decisions that will have a real impact and are pure greenwashing tactics that may sound good but have no or even a negative impact.

Below we tried to answer a few of the questions we can imagine will pop into your mind and will explain the next steps.

Q: So, what does this mean for Open Wear and the products available online?
A: 1) The products we’ll sell online will be sold just like before, the only thing we’ll adjust is the prices, as it will be our goal to spread the products we have in stock as quickly as possible. As of now, you’ll receive a free cap (worth 49€ / CHF) with any purchase of a jacket or pants and you’ll even receive an additional 99€ / CHF discount if you decide to buy a set (jacket and pants).
2) The options to return (14 days) or exchange (30 days) policy will remain the same.

Q: Will you still answer my emails?
A: Yes, most definitely! But, as we – Chris and Martijn – started jobs next to Open Wear, this means our reply times to your questions might be slightly longer, although we try to answer any email within 24 hours. We decided to install a chatbot on our Facebook Account, that can answer any simple questions, but will kindly ask you to send an email to us if you have more specific questions.

Q: Will Open Wear stop?
A: This is a question we can not answer yet, as we are still in talks to continue the brand and we are always open to anyone that’s enthusiastic to (financially) support us. The only thing that’s very clear now is that we won’t be able to bring new products without sufficient new investments.

“ We'd like to thank you for showing the world that there is an alternative. ”

Q: Why don’t you do another Kickstarter?
A: Kickstarter is an awesome platform that helps launch – kickstart – ideas, but we don’t believe it can help us grow to the size need to grow to become a sustainable business. It helped us to initially grow and prove there was a real opportunity for Open Wear, however, it did by far not allow us to also pay out salaries or any form of compensation.

Q: I want to invest! Where can I wire my money to?
A: Before you wire the money, let’s start up a conversation (hello@open-wear.com) and discuss how we all see the future of Open Wear.

That’s all for this update.
We’d like to thank you for your continued support and for showing the world that there is an alternative to the polluting outdoor industry.

Jean-Philippe

Tellement dommage, belle collection avec de bons et beaux produits de qualité pour des prix raisonnables, compares a toutes les grosses marques que l'on connait et dont les prix sont indécents pour une qualité identique....Messieurs les banquiers, si vous nous lisez,.....Donnez de l'argent pour un bon investissement, Openwear ont feront bonne usage et soyez assures que nous achèteront leurs produits...Bonne chance et a bientôt..j'espere. Jean-philippe

Martijn

Merci Jean-Philippe!

Ali

Hi guys, it's a pretty frustrating news... But at the same time, I would like to tell you that your company motivated and pushed me to create my sustainable clothing startup as well (Labo Mono). You showed through your Kickstarter that it was possible to create a more sustainable outerwear brand, and that it IS possible to change the industry, by either choosing better alternatives, or creating your own product, like you did!! Growing a startup, especially a sustainable one is a hell of a task. You did an awesome job, and I really hope I can achieve even half of your awesomeness. Take care guys Ali

Martijn

Thanks for the nice words and we are glad that we were able to motivate and push you! Nice works with Labo Mono! Keep on going!

Seppe

Ow, that's too bad. With the orange jacket/black pant combo, I had a lot of fun - hope you guys get back at it soon!
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