What is Efaisto in terms of its vision?
Fashion is a trillion-dollar industry worldwide. We are all affected by it. However, we think fashion is broken. We want to fix it by making fashion custom-made. That means ethical and sustainable. In order to do this, we need to build a global network of artisans.
The vision is to bypass large fashion brands to go straight to the makers of the products. By doing this, we are able to provide ethical products to the consumer, produce custom-made products from the producer.
Now, we are starting and sourcing in Vietnam with the artisans. We are selling mainly to clients in France and Belgium. It is to start. It is to expand sourcing countries because there are many artisans throughout the world.
Of course, it is selling to other countries. We want to expand to the rest of Europe and then the US.
In terms of Efaisto and its production line, what are the most prominent products?
We started two months. We began with four products: shirts, leather shoes, leather bags, and wallets. We want to start on a focused basis. We know there’s a market for these products. There’s not question about that.
We can redefine the product range by the fact that the products have a value to all customers. It is all handmade – by human hands, by artisans. We have a story to each product. With these two factors, custom made and handmade, this creates the product range.
Already, we know a lot of artisans doing a lot of great work on many, many products such as furniture too. Also, we have contact with people in South Africa, Peru, and Bolivia. At the moment, Vietnam is the major focus.
We start there, but the vision is to create a global network.
How is the relationship with the producers and the company?
Our relationship with the producers. I think they like us. They have been working in the neighbourhood for 40 years. They have been doing their business, doing it well, and doing it locally.
They are under pressure now because Vietnam is opening into the global market. So, we have to take global fashion brands. All of the Vietnamese consumers buy mass market. They are not going to artisans anymore.
They have been making products forever. Customers in Europe love what they dothem. We say, “We can help you sell to them. Keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll sell in London, in Paris, in Singapore.”
They love our clothes. (Laughs) These artisans. These makers. They want people to live from what they do, to become fashionable. They value the consumer feedback. What they’re doing is not only selling clothing, but they consider the craft as an art, the sales in Paris is important.
When we send them pictures of the customers wearing the products in Paris and Brussels, they’re so happy. We offer them recognition other than including better working conditions.
What other work are you involved in at this point in time?
We launched two months ago. We are still making sure that we can scale the sales. We are selling more and more. We have to make sure the customers receive what they ask for. That’s for all business. Next step is to work on the volume.
We need to make sure the whole process is working smoothly. That’s for the team. For me, I’m in Brussels right now, as you can see. (Laughs)
I am meeting investors in another two weeks. We view ourselves as a textile hub. We refer to artisans. As such, we view this as artwork that we can sell. Now, we need investors. We are raising funds at the present time.
What meaning or personal fulfilment does this work bring for you?
I was I’m not into fashion at all. (Laughs) I’ve worked in finances before, for the corporate world. Going shopping in the mall or with my girlfriend has always been an ordeal, and then I discovered Vietnam, I discovered the market where I can fabric and leather.
I discovered the makers. I would enter the shop and pay $30 for a custom-made, tailored shirt. It was my shirt. I was the only one wearing it. The price I paid went right into the maker’s pocket. I knew the guy has a son.
He was studying abroad. The whole family was supporting the son abroad. I’ve always wanted to use my skills to have an impact. A real impact on the world based on my skills. Here, with my partner/co-founder, he’s a software guy. I’m more on the business side.
We use what we’ve learned to improve everyone’s lives such as the artisans or the consumers. We are doing something. Something that we consider useful for others. We are doing better.
It is a feeling of self-fulfillment, self-actualization. We want to do something meaningful. We think it’s needed too. We think the fashion world has a big problem at the moment. Many industries are being disrupted by technology and innovative skills.
With regard to ethical and sustainable fashion companies, what’s the importance of them now?
We have a niche. It is not about fashion, exactly. We support eco-fashion and ethical issues. Of course, we want to bring more ethics into fashion. We think this will work only if we bring something more.
Many ethical fashion brands only advertise themselves as ethical. It’s their main selling point. It’s a good vision and needed now. But to get out of a niche market of people who will only buy ethical, we need to bring something else, which will appeal to other people.
We want people to think, “Rationally, it is better to buy from them.” You can get a custom-made product for the same price, which is the whole innovation. It is amazing as such. We combine ethical aspects and the custom-made.
We think this appeal to a larger portion of the market rather than being ethical or custom-made alone. Those markets appeal to certain people. We think combining both emotional and rational is the way.
We’re not only an ethical business. We’re both. We can see this working. Our customers, we ask them, “Why are you buying from us?” It is the custom-made aspect. It is important. It is convincing the consumers.
Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion?
Trusted Clothes is, obviously, about ethical and sustainable fashion. As I said before, we believe that ethical business must be strong on both aspects: ethics and business. That’s why we are working on these two dimensions.
We want to use all business and technical skills to promote the concept and more relationships. The only way to change the environment of fashion and to have a large impact is by combining these dimensions, which are equally important.
Of course, that’s how sustainable fashion can take over the world! (Laughs)
Thank you for your time, Bernard.