Asket is embracing full traceability.
Five months after promising to phase out the traditional “made in” tag for a more accurate portrayal of a garment’s journey, the Swedish men’s wear brand now boasts a production chain that is 68 percent uncovered, according to August Bard Bringéus, the company’s co-founder.
Accomplishing such a feat isn’t as easy as it sounds. From raw materials to finished products, clothing usually undertakes circuitous treks across the globe, often multiple times. The Asket team has been doing the same, Bard Bringéus said, visiting manufacturers, mills and farms all over the world—while “broadcasting” those trips to the company’s 30,000-plus followers on Instagram.
As such, Asket’s new label is a far cry from the compliance document in miniature that we’ve come to expect. The itemized rundown of one shirt, for example, now reveals that its cotton fibers were farmed in the San Joaquin Valley in California, spun in Turkoglu-Kahramanmaras in Turkey and dyed, woven and finished in Ronfe Portugal in Portugal. Its buttons were made in Bergamo, Italy, using mother of pearl collected in Makassar, Indonesia, and its thread was spun in Romania from polyester produced in India. Before it was ready to hit the shelf, the garment was cut, sewn, trimmed washed and packed in Felgueiras in Portugal.
Simply put, labels with single countries of origin rarely paint the whole picture, Bard Bringéus said.
“If we do not know where our goods actually come from and continue to fail to respect the resources that have gone into creating them, we’ll never change our buying behavior—neither as brands nor as consumers,” he said. “Only when we face the full story, and the true cost of the products we put out there, can we start making better decisions.”
Full disclosure is important to Asket, too. Its work is publicly available at www.asket.com/traceability. “We want anyone to be able to follow our journey and hold us to our promise,” Bard Bringéus said.
Asket had planned on achieving 100 percent traceability by year’s end but “uncooperative suppliers and logistical barriers” forced the brand to push its deadline till 2019. Fractious vendors can be weeded out, he said, but logistics are a different animal altogether. Because raw materials such as cotton and wool tend to be purchased in bulk at auctions, their provenances can be mixed (read: erased) at the spinning stage.
Asket is addressing this problem by establishing direct relationships with raw-material suppliers.
“We recently struck a deal with an Australian merino wool farm and an Italian spinner to establish a fully traceable supply chain, from the sheep to the sweater,” Bard Bringéus said. “It required committing to much larger volumes than we would have otherwise, but we want to show that it’s possible and inspire more brands to follow.”