How Circularity Builds Customer Loyalty

How Circularity Builds Customer Loyalty

Anton Schumann, CEO of THE GUESTLIST, spoke with Asheen Phansey, Sustainability Leader, CEO and Co-founder of the Circular Fashion Group in December of 2020. The discussion centered around THE GUESTLIST's proactive approach to circularity; covering lot size one (small quantities (even of just 'one') of goods manufactured in a single production run), small supply chains, and the Cashmere Spa initiative.

THE GUESTLIST’s Cashmere Spa offering:

The initiative of the Cashmere Spa is described by Asheen as “A great service that is part of the future of circularity” - in which we are moving from the sale of products to extended producer responsibility. Heralding in a movement whereby designers, professionals and producers within the fashion space steward the products that they are responsible for releasing into the world, the Cashmere Spa ensures that their garments can last as long as possible and can be recycled at the end of their life, while creating a business that really connects with, and touches, clients more closely. This is something that is of importance for Schumann.

Created by Anton Schumann, the Cashmere Spa is a service offered by THE GUESTLIST. As a serial textile entrepreneur and partner at Gherzi Textil Organisation, Anton holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy, Business Administration, and Politics. Being a textile engineer, he has more than 15 years of experience in the textile industry, especially in the fields of business model innovation, sustainability, textile finishing, technical textiles, and flat knitting. 

Four years ago, out of curiosity, Schumann bought a flat knitting company in Germany with the belief that producing real value with real goods can create a positive purpose business model. Employing 50 people in this manufactory in Mühlhausen, a small town in Thuringia, Germany, he went on to create THE GUESTLIST. As an online platform THE GUESTLIST creates a connection between the creativity of international designers, a digital business model, a short supply chain, and fast communication to the final customer - worldwide. This is carried through by a high value and product, giving the focus mainly to cashmere, high-end wools, and knitwear. The approach taken integrated all aspects into one platform - from the designers, to the production at the manufactory, to the end client, right through to giving the client a means to correctly and professionally care for their sartorial investments.

The motivation behind this was not for the end product to be more expensive, but rather, to make use of these products as the high-end innovations of nature that they are. From Anton’s vast and intricate textile expertise he describes wool as - the “blackbelt fiber of nature.”


It has some antimicrobial, antioxidant, flame-retardant, hygroscopic, and thermoregulating properties,” he says, “And with the right spinning, a woolen product is perfect for both winter and summertime.” Wool is also a sustainable product, being grown for a few years on the sheep/goat. When working with selected suppliers and their herders, it is sheared off without causing damage to the animal - allowing the creation of beautiful, performance orientated products. When cared for correctly, such products can last for many years.


This was how the idea of the Cashmere Spa first came about.

The inception of the Cashmere Spa came about:

Anton shares that “One of our rules at THE GUESTLIST is that we only use 100% natural fibers, and no polyester or polyamides. We do not use any softener, acids, silicones, lubricants or whatever. Because if you would use them, you would have a high-performance product, but not a natural product. And that’s important. But, with wool itself, there will always be some form of pilling. This comes from an understanding of the natural habitat and characteristics of this fiber. You will always have a certain kind of pilling with wool - sometimes high-grade, sometimes low-grade - depending on the quality of the fiber, yarn and production. This happens even if you have the best fibers spun into the best yarns off of the best spinning machines. So we asked, “What can we do against the pilling?” We could always talk to the client and tell them that this is wool and we are not using softeners or this or that, so this is why the pilling happens.” 

And then a moment of inspiration hit: let’s rather give them the solution - whereby we rather turn our communication into something that they can trust and depend on. This idea would go on to become more of a customer-loyalty approach, whereby the Cashmere Spa became integrated into part of our business model at THE GUESTLIST. This meant that, as a client, you know that when you buy a product from us, not only is it designed with sustainability in mind from the inception, you will also have it taken care of by us.

We worked with that notion, and realized that that was in fact circularity - a step further than just being sustainable,” says Schumann. “Rather than having one sweater that would fit and be worn for the next two years or so, we help you to take care of your investments in a specialized and professional manner. We see more and more now with the impacts of Corona that fast fashion always told the consumer the story that “Every month you NEED a new color!” or “ You NEED a new pair of trousers EVERY MONTH!” This, quite frankly, is a story that already has been played. So, we say, simply: Have a good product, have a long-lasting relationship with your supplier, and a short supply chain. We first called it “Cashmere Refurbishment” as I came from the technical aspect, but it didn’t sound so good. So we instead decided on the Cashmere Spa - as everyone can do something with a “spa,” everyone around the world knows what a spa is.

Photo by Seyi Ariyo on Unsplash

Our success is determined by our sustainable growth within the fashion industry. We supply our customers with quality eco-fashion pieces, ensuring that each garment can be kept and restored to last a lifetime. In light of this, our New Year’s Resolutions for 2021 do not sway exorbitantly from our core values and actions that are already underway.

As a service business-model, the Cashmere Spa sustains the loyalty of clients to their high-end knitwear - giving them the option to keep their product for as long as they desire by offering them the service to have it maintained in a specialized and professional way. By closing this loop, the Cashmere Spa offers a proactive approach to circularity for clients - one which is easy, effortless and cost-effective. This much-needed service provides clients with a practical experience of circularity with a means to correctly and professionally care for their sartorial investments.

The Cashmere Spa Process:

Photo by Olga Kozachenko on Unsplash

Sending in your pieces is advised prior to when you anticipate wearing them, so as to enjoy the benefits of your wardrobe favourites feeling like new in the cooler months. Knitwear made from fibers containing more than 70% natural materials are accepted, including silk, cotton, and wool - with pieces from THE GUESTLIST and Cashmere Spa partners receiving a discount on their treatments.

Once your piece/s is received by the Cashmere Spa, pictures are taken of what needs to be done. An assessment of the repairability, and what can be done with the revival and rejuvenation processes for you follows - which is communicated with you. The pieces are then placed into a freezer for at least 4 days. As only natural products are dealt with, this precaution is taken against parasites/moths/microbial life - that like to eat and live in the hair from animals. This ensures that top hygiene standards are adhered to for the clients’ safety, as well as securing the manufactory facility and the team from infection.

Once your piece/s is received by the Cashmere Spa, pictures are taken of what needs to be done. An assessment of the repairability, and what can be done with the revival and rejuvenation processes for you follows - which is communicated with you. The pieces are then placed into a freezer for at least 4 days. As only natural products are dealt with, this precaution is taken against parasites/moths/microbial life - that like to eat and live in the hair from animals. This ensures that top hygiene standards are adhered to for the clients’ safety, as well as securing the manufactory facility and the team from infection.

A thorough examination then takes place, where small holes - or the beginnings of tiny holes - are carefully repaired. Labels are repaired, new buttons are added if needed, and so on. The garments are then hand shaven to remove or prevent any pilling. This also enhances the softness of the yarns too. 

Photo by Fleur on Unsplash

Due to the wear and use of a product, it can become misshapen or the sizing can adjust - such that a medium-sized garment could become a size large or even extra-large. As such, it is then steamed, and fitted onto a mannequin to regain its original shaping. From there, it goes through quality control, it is again sanitized, and then packed and shipped back to you. This whole process takes approximately an entire day to complete, but with the number of products in line and to adhere to hygiene standards, it is estimated to take two weeks from start to finish. Considering that your pieces are returned as new, this time investment in the warmer seasons pays off dividends of comfort, luxury and sustainability in the cooler seasons - not to mention decreasing the costs of purchasing a new piece.

Recycled Wool:

Photo by Anastasia Zhenina on Unsplash

Furthermore, as part of the service, should clients send in pieces that are past the point of resurrection (meaning that they cannot be brought “back to life” for the client), they are given the option to contribute them to the recycled wool initiative.

Here, garments are added to any left-over materials from the manufactory. These are then sorted and sent to small-scale spinners in Italy, which make up new yarns from them, creating recycled wool - which still produces a high-end product. 


Products made with such yarns have even less of an imprint on the environment - due to the lower CO2 emissions created in production, less water to manufacture the end garments, and so on. This further completes a circular approach in which clients are guaranteed that their garments that are past the point of repair are used to create new ones.

Cashmere Spa Partners:

The manufactory itself at the Cashmere Spa has a small team, and as such, close attention can be paid to each and every garment. Matching this value, partners are sought out based on similar standards of quality, yarns, sustainability efforts, with small- to medium-sized business models. The fit is always dependent on size and site. 

Photo by Fernando Lavin on Unsplash

From THE GUESTLIST’s understanding, sustainability in textiles means small-lot-sizes, even lot-size-one (referring to a small quantity ('one') of goods ordered for delivery on a specific date or manufactured in a single production run). This means that products are not created to generate numbers for a specific amount of stock. Timeless products are created outside of seasons, and on a made-to-order basis. Being this small allows a direct-to-customer approach, and partners are worked with directly - even in terms of their knitting machines, their raw material supply, etc. So this is effectively a “fit to size” approach - which has been found to enhance both the partner’s sustainability manifestos, and THE GUESTLIST’s approach to collaboration as a means to sustainability and circularity.


These days the desire is shifting more and more towards long-lasting products. THE GUESTLIST partners are producing to these standards already, so to enhance their offering, they are assisted with long-lasting care - which they otherwise may not have had the capacity to supply to their clients yet. Schumann shares, “This also helps to keep things more transparent and intimate - we know that these are brands who know who their producers are, they can tell you “This is my producer, he is two hours south of Berlin. I can send it there, and can get it back - and I may even know some faces there.” This creates trust and transparency, with fewer kilometers between users, facilitators, producers and so forth.

Our success is determined by our sustainable growth within the fashion industry. We supply our customers with quality eco-fashion pieces, ensuring that each garment can be kept and restored to last a lifetime. In light of this, our New Year’s Resolutions for 2021 do not sway exorbitantly from our core values and actions that are already underway.

Is customer loyalty one of your goals with the Cashmere Spa?

Buying a product is a one-time occurence, and stories and communication over a longer period cultivates and maintains the relationship between THE GUESTLIST and their clients. This connection is forged through service. THE GUESTLIST foresees that the maintenance and cleaning of garments if they are rented or just needing to be cared for in the correct manner, is going to be a future issue. It becomes a natural evolution, from supplying the product to assisting your customers in the maintenance of the product.

Photo by J Williams on Unsplash

It demonstrates how you as a company are, in a sense, keeping ownership over the product that you have created,” says Schumann. “This then opens up further questions around ownership: Who is going to take ownership of the product in the future when it has completed its life? Who is taking ownership of the waste produced? These are all bigger questions that need to be considered. It is important for the business owner to assess their business model from a value-proposition stance. Questions need to be asked, like “What is my value proposition? Am I selling a service? Am I just telling good stories?” And the question rather becomes “Why?” You can buy a red sweater, for instance, on any platform. You can make a relatively good product and so on. But what it comes down to is being innovative, digital, sustainable - closing the loop and developing circularity.


This is a theme that we are seeing more and more,” continues Schumann. “People are aware of products that are longer-lasting, more sustainable… The Cashmere Spa helps clients to decide that “These are the values that I have. These are the values that I want to be wearing, these are the values that I want hanging in my wardrobe.” It allows a person to have one sweater in their wardrobe instead of five.

One of the more comical aspects that has come about with the Cashmere Spa is that of being seen as a glorified ‘laundry service.’ Anton shares that sometimes the pieces come back to us so dirty that the production team wonders whether their owners have any facilities to wash them in! However, instead of this being a negative, it is simply a demonstration of how much people love THE GUESTLIST products - they are so well-worn! There is a real and tangible difference when you have a cashmere sweater, it is different to having a polyester sweater or a sweater made from a performance material.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash



Our success is determined by our sustainable growth within the fashion industry. We supply our customers with quality eco-fashion pieces, ensuring that each garment can be kept and restored to last a lifetime. In light of this, our New Year’s Resolutions for 2021 do not sway exorbitantly from our core values and actions that are already underway.

As a theme, we are seeing this more and more - people are aware of products that are longer-lasting, more sustainable. Anton shares that, “We believe that we are in a good moment in time. And this is a fantastic time to be where we are - everything is changing and being rebuilt.”

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