How is 2023 treating you so far? For us, we’re on a bit of a journey!
As you may or may not know, the Barneys Originals brand has shifted its focus over the last few months. Moving from a wholesale to direct-to-customer focus sounds a little like business jargon to us – so we wanted to share some personal insights from the office to explain what’s going on.
To cut a long story short, we’ve pulled everything in house. Instead of working towards huge orders with wholesale partners, we’ve pumped the breaks. Falling somewhere between fast-fashion and slow-fashion, we’ve scaled back for the better. We’ve loved working in wholesale, but this new change brings a huge opportunity for us. Now, we have ultimate control over the materials, ethos and product. It’s scary – but exciting!
New team members have joined us, we’ve redeveloped old processes and we’re treating the entire year like like one big experiment.
So here’s a sneak peak of things we’re working on…
Veg tanned leather
One of the first things our Online Business Manager, Amy Fletcher, wanted to focus on was exploring some options that were previously off the table for our wholesale operation. Sometimes, in order to meet MOQs and price points for big retail, exploring alternative materials simply wasn’t on the cards.
Enter scene: veg tanned leather.
It’s something that we loved in the office. The feel, the look, the absence of harsh chemicals – it just sat right with us. Of course, we constantly question how we can have a more positive impact as a business so this was something we were keen to investigate. Now that we’ve bought more of our work in house, the opportunity has finally arisen.
So this year, we’re finally developing a veg-tanned collection which will arrive early summertime. We’re so excited to show you the durability, flexibility, and breathability of skins that have been tanned with this method. Veg-tanned skins tend to be more resistant to water, stains and fading when compared to chrome-tanned leather. They also develop a unique patina over time that adds character to the product and makes it look more luxurious. Veg-tanned leather is considered more eco-friendly because it contains less harmful chemicals or pollutants in its tanning process. This is because the skin has been tanned using natural vegetable matter such as tree bark.
This is just one way we’re working towards a cleaner and more conscious output.
Gloves & finishing touches
Yes – we’re about to enter the summer season so this might not sound too exciting just yet, but we’ve just had the first samples of our winter glove range and they are amazing!
Last year, we developed our glove offerings with better photography and new designs. A little more attention from the marketing team introduced the Barneys Originals finishing touches to a whole new audience. Pig split suede, bovine leather and super soft shearling featured heavily in the range. You loved them and so did we!
So this year we’re going further. Our small glove range will feature skins reclaimed from food waste, versatile colourways and new styles to suit all tastes. We’ve also developed a short run of gift boxes off the back of customer feedback. We know these lovely finishing touches make great gifts for loved ones – so we’ll be offering a limited range of smart branded boxes to save you a job when it comes to wrapping.
When we said we were winding down our wholesale operations, you might have assumed we’d be less visible. Thankfully that’s not the case! We’re going to be working with some of our favourite customers on a marketplace basis. This means you’ll still be able to find a little bit of Barneys in all of the usual places you know and love.
So why change? Well, operating on a marketplace basis gives us total product control on an end-to-end basis. We develop the product, quality check it, package it and reprocess any returns. Call us micro managers but we prefer it this way. It gives us the opportunity to fine tune the product to our own benchmarks, set fair retail prices and swoop in to save the day in the rare event that something goes wrong. So far, you can find us on Debenhams and Secret Sales, but soon you’ll be able to find platform exclusive content and items on a range of new marketplaces; offering you new ways to shop and explore the Barneys brand.
Currently, all Barneys Originals items arrive in our classic grey bags. They’re great. Dependable, sturdy and made from recycled plastic. They get the product from A to B, but they don’t exactly have pizzazz.
The whole branded packaging conversation comes up for us every few months. Some team members are correct in saying ‘it goes in the bin anyway’ but we can’t deny the feedback we’ve received from deflated customers who feel the magic of their delivery is a little dampened by the nondescript packaging.
We hear you and we’d like to find a professional looking middle-ground. One that looks good, whilst ensuring we’re not creating any unnecessary plastic waste. Packaging is something we’re readdressing across the board at the moment and hopefully we’ll have some fresh new designs to share with you soon.
So that’s where we’re at currently! Of course, there’s a lot going on in our busy little office but we’re always keen to hear from you too. If you have feedback or anything to share. Don’t hesitate to hit us up on social media or via our email.
Until next time, Barneys Gang!