When we started Otrium, we didn’t just want to create a company, we wanted to start a movement. We wanted every item of clothing produced to be worn.
Before Otrium we’d never given much thought to unsold inventory in the fashion industry, why would we? Even now, with a drive towards greater sustainability, it’s still an uncomfortable topic in fashion circles because around 1 in 10 items made are never sold. We think that’s such a waste – of all the creative energy, the hard work and the investment that goes into producing great fashion.
Max and I started to ask ourselves what happens to unsold inventory. We were already on an entrepreneurial path, building ecomms tools, web apps, with a side hustle - a cool (though we say it ourselves!) sweater brand. Although the brand was doing well, we were stuck with unsold inventory. We realised if we had this problem, we weren’t the only ones. For our little business, this was a cash issue, never mind the waste.
We did some research to find out how we could shift our own stock. We learned that every fashion brand struggles with unsold inventory and that all the current solutions were legacy players with flawed models.
There are stock buyers who buy in bulk at usually less than the price of production. Then there are flash sales, where customers are pushed into a sub-optimal ecommerce experience, often having to wait for their orders. And finally, there are physical outlet centres, often out of town, with a high level of investment required so out of reach for smaller brands. My Co-Founder Max and I realised the market was ripe for disruption.
The industry needed a better solution that offered better margins and more control for brands, one that could be solved with technology. Brands can get more value out of their previous collections and customers can have a really good experience. That’s where Otrium comes in.
We are a managed marketplace where brands can open an online outlet store. They have full control over pricing, merchandising, visibility and placement. This is especially important in the fashion industry where the relationship brands have with their customers is so important. Fashion is a reflection of who you are and personal style is intrinsically linked to the brands you wear. We respect that dynamic.
Otrium tech-enables brands so they get the most value from their unsold inventory by smartly connecting every item of clothing to customers in our community. Meanwhile, our dynamic pricing engine optimises conversion while refurbishment stations ensures tired, crumpled or unlabelled items are saleable.
As for our customers, they get a fantastic deal. On our app they can discover fashion-gems they might have missed – at really great prices but without compromising on the experience. Otrium is the online equivalent of a physical outlet store, which has been super-powered with technical capabilities. We have well over 200 brands on our app, from mid-price to luxury, contemporary to sportswear, local heroes to global names. In every market we take the global names then we add local hero brands to create an authentic, relevant experience for our customers.
We’re on a journey to make fashion smarter, giving fashion-lovers the best possible online retail experience and making sure every item of clothing is worn.
Words by Milan Daniels, Co-Founder