Supply Chain Management

Do you know how far each T-shirt travels before it’s sold?

Yes, we do – but we want to know more.

By the time you buy one of our T-shirts, it will often have travelled half way round the world. We source our clothes, furniture and home interiors from around 360 suppliers in over 30 countries. The average length of our partnerships is ten years, which creates the perfect base to facilitate change together. Trust and mutual understanding are essential. 

When it comes to our products, we want to exactly how they’re manufactured and by whom. Only then can we ensure that our stringent environmental and social standards are being upheld along the supply chain. 

Social programmes and chemical management have helped establish a solid base from which we can examine and support our direct suppliers and their factories. As a second step, we are now working towards increased transparency along the supply chain to identify major risks and eliminate them with our partners. We’re establishing a process we can roll out across all our suppliers. 

From September 2018, customers have been able to view a list of all our key suppliers and their factories. These suppliers are responsible for over 50% of all our products. We will continue to add to the list, including more partners, their factories and information about sub-suppliers.  

Tell me about the typical route it takes?

Every journey starts at our HQ in Hamburg where our designers and buyers determine what the T-shirt should look like. While they’re fine-turning their design, the cotton is already growing in another country. The raw cotton is spun to threads, the threads are woven to create the material, and finally the material is made into a T-shirt. 

But it doesn’t end there. During the last part of its journey, it’s shipped back to Northern Germany on a container ship and then driven to one of our warehouses. 

However, we like to think that a T-shirt has only really made it “home” when you wear it for the first time!

The typical journey of a T-shirt

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Designing the T-shirt

Cultivation of cotton

Spinning of the cotton

rocessing of the material into a T-shirt

Shipment of the T-shirt

How do you define “sustainable manufacturing”?

It’s impossible to answer that question in a single sentence as there are so many aspects to consider. Sustainable materials, environmentally friendly processes, proper chemical management and safe working conditions are just a few. It’s essential to keep an eye on all of these issues so we work with our partners to determine how to make all our production processes more sustainable. Social programmes, chemical management and new technologies all represent small steps that contribute to our progress. We now want to build on them by thinking bigger and systematically integrating further sustainability measures. With the help of our key suppliers, we aim to become a role model for sustainable manufacturing – in social, ecological and economical matters. After all, sustainable manufacturing means a fairer, eco-friendly and more efficient way of doing business, something all our partners and customers can profit from. Now and in the future.

Luftbild eines Containerterminals, © getty, Fotograf: Teun van den Dries