About coffee clothes
- Founder: Vanessa Stroet
- Founded in: 2022
- Employees: 8
- Money raised:-
- Ultimate goal: To make the fashion industry sustainable.
Today’s fashion world is anything but sustainable. The textile sector pollutes drinking water, and the sector’s CO2 emissions are greater than aviation and shipping combined. Fashion tech start-up Coffee Clothing wants to change that and recently launched a fully sustainable clothing brand based on indigenous pre-Columbian art. In this episode of Start-up of the day, founder Vanessa Stroet, who comes from Colombia, talks about how her company is doing.
How did you come up with the idea to start a business?
“I have always had a soft spot for sustainability. I once started a cosmetics webshop with products that, among other things, are not tested on animals. I have always had a great interest in fashion. As a little girl, I often cut up my own clothes to make clothes for my dolls. When I found out that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, I thought: this must and can be done differently.”
In what way is Coffee Clothing sustainable?
“There are companies that do well when it comes to working conditions. Others try to prevent overproduction. But I wanted to do better in all sorts of different areas. So I worked as sustainably as possible in five different ways. For example, I have been able to reduce the number of chemicals we use in the production process to just twelve. In a normal production process, there are thousands. In addition, we do not do physical but virtual fashion shows, and we design our clothes using 3D drawings.”
What are 3D drawings?
By providing 3D drawings, we ensure that we do not use physical samples in the production phase. This means that the factory can read all dimensions from a 3D model and associated digital files. Any ambiguities can then be resolved digitally. Normally, up to fifteen physical test phases are required before a test is approved. Traditionally, it goes like this: receiving a technology package (where the design is explained in detail to the factory), sending the first sample, receiving feedback, adjusting and sending another sample, and so on. In addition to the unnecessary overtime on all machines and manpower, this also means that these samples are continuously flown over for approval. We counter this by working with 3D drawings.”
And how does such a virtual show work?
“I made a collection with a total of sixteen items and eight different looks. Suppose you do a physical fashion show and it turns out afterwards that two looks are popular and the rest less so, then you have produced clothes that you end up not wearing. Then I came up with the idea of doing a fashion show in a virtual location with virtual models. A program then takes 3D drawings and turns them into 3D objects that carry the models. Finally, my virtual models walked around a coffee plantation during the fashion show.”
Where does the name of your company come from?
“I am originally from Colombia. Many of my relatives live there on a farm and work the land as coffee pickers. Coffee has always meant a lot to me. It was literally our bread. When I heard that coffee is the first Fair Trade product in the world, I thought: it’s a very nice symbol. I want to use it in the fashion industry.”
What has been your biggest milestone to date?
“The biggest milestone was the moment I showed my work to the outside world for the first time at an event. Here you could take a look at the production process and the design process. It took me four years to establish the company. Many knew more or less what I was doing , but only really saw the potential during the event. It was a beautiful moment.”
What challenges are you facing?
“I still think it is quite a challenge to be able to assess exactly how well a licorice is received. I want to prevent overproduction as far as possible, because it is not sustainable. In addition, I find it sometimes quite a task to decide which paths I want to take with my business. For example, we are currently in talks with parties to do something with Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs). This is a kind of proof of ownership for digital products. We would like to start a community where you participate in voting for what our NFTs will look like. Think about publishing unique avatars per collection.”
What do your future plans look like?
“I would love it if consumers could try a product digitally in my webshop. Then they can ‘try on’ the clothes online by projecting them onto a photo of themselves. Together with our partner Studio Acci, I am now investigating the extent to which it is possible to add this option to the webshop.
Additionally, I am thinking of selling clothes in the metaverse. Consumers can also buy goods there. The metaverse is still quite new, but I see many possibilities when it comes to making our clothes available in digital form. Think about dressing your avatar in our items in a game. Or that you can visit our digital store in the metaverse and try and buy the goods there.”
Where do you hope to be in ten years?
“I hope that by then we will have achieved success in both the real world and online. I strongly believe in the power of physical and digital.”