It would be amazing if fashion companies could only produce bestsellers and get rid of the products that aren’t selling. This would save so many time, effort and resources. Data is the problem. It is impossible for any brand to predict what sales will be next season or over the long-term.
Sustalytics is a service platform that allows retailers and brands to test their products before they are produced. It takes the guesswork out of forecasting and relies on data instead. The platform was founded in 2018 and is known for its ability to predict bestsellers. FashionUnited was interested and interviewed Julie Evans, Sustalytics founder and fashion insight director, ex-Inditex employee, about Sustalytics’ approach to retailers and brands. Sabine Henshall is a member of the marketing communications team.
Julie, what’s Sustalytics all of about?
Sustalytics uses visual tech to assist global retailers and brands to understand consumer preferences. This helps them make product decisions that reduce unnecessary overproduction. Fashion brands can reduce waste and make more profit by anticipating what their customers want.
This sounds almost too good to true. Overproduction and waste are major problems in the industry.
Yes. I’ve been in retail for 13 years and have had the opportunity to see firsthand how wasteful the fashion industry is. Sustalytics was founded from the realization that one-third of all production is waste. We quickly found out that to make one t-shirt it takes 700 gallons water. This leads to a waste estimate of 400 billion US Dollars annually.
These are horrifying figures. Are these numbers due to fast fashion?
It’s clear that fast fashion must end, but the whole industry needs to be transformed. Overproduction is a problem because we don’t know what the consumers want. Although we say that one third of what consumers want isn’t possible, this is likely to be too optimistic. With Sustalytics, I want to make that knowledge available to any brand, not just the big ones, what will be relevant fashion products to consumers.
You can help fashion companies create products that are in line with current trends, but also analyze existing products.
In a nutshell we analyse the input of thousands of consumers through surveys, and then give a super easy ranking to the brand that is even more interesting for designers. The consumers can then modify or allocate stock. This can also be done by country.
A brand can create products that people love and use. You can also invest in designs that make money. Overstock is not only reduced, but so are water and CO2 emissions.
Could you please explain to companies what service you offer on the trend side?
Sure. We provide updates and reports about predicted trends such as tie dye, key colors, activewear key pieces, and specific items such as the bucket hat or biker shorts. We evaluate if the trend will really be a trend or if it is just hype so that companies can plan and design accordingly.
How can you find companies interested in you or how do they find you.
Our own community allows us to answer brands’ questions about new target groups, such as plus-sizes. Plus sizes are a great way to get Levi’s customers engaged. They drive them to their domain, but we don’t collect any personal data. It is all anonymous. We only reach out to customers for surveys.
Which brands have used Sustalytics?
There are many brands, including Havaianas and Tally Weijl, as well as Galeries Lafayette, which include brand names like Arena, and Havaianas. Arena and Tally Weijl were able to avoid stock being discontinued by correctly predicting bestsellers 9/10 times.
Before I ask Sabine some questions, what would you say about Sustalytics?
It uses data science to identify the consumer needs of fashion retailers and brands. This allows them to produce only what they want. The environment would suffer greatly if companies could buy and distribute better. Data insights from our data can improve design, optimize stock, maximize revenue, and reduce waste.
Sabine, I am a representative for Gen Z. Let me ask you how Gen Z consumers are both environmentally aware and economically oriented.
Generation Z will say ‘yes’ for sustainability when it comes to vintage and second-hand purchases. They often feel they are not part of the discussion due to their inability to contribute financially. The younger members of Gen Z are less likely to be able to earn their own money and therefore have limited financial resources.
Can you give us an example?
For example, take running shoes. It is very difficult to find second-hand running shoes. And Gen Z consumers don’t have the financial means to purchase a pair of durable, high-quality shoes. This is where sustainability and affordability need to be balanced.
What would you suggest to Gen Z consumers?
Sustainability does not mean being environmentally friendly. Other issues include wages and gender equality. Gen Z is outspoken and digitally connected. They have already taken over that space, which makes them the strongest community. However, retailers and brands often don’t provide enough information or education about these topics. It would be a good start in engaging Gen Z consumers and building that community.