August Bard Bringeus and Jakob Dworsky want you to buy lesser clothes. They are so adamant about staying true to this ethos that they closed their online store on Black Friday, the informal name for the day after Thanksgiving when retailers offer huge discounts to attract shoppers.
Instead, the founders of Asket encouraged potential shoppers to explore its garment care guides that help to extend the lifespan of clothes.
Bringeus and Dworsky founded Asket in 2015 after meeting at the Stockholm School of Economics. They named the brand after the Swedish word. Translated to English, Asket means ascetic. “It describes a person who refrains from excess and lives without material possessions. For the two of us, it was more metaphorical. It was a description of how we make our products by eliminating everything that doesn’t add value,” shares Dworsky in a Zoom interview.
“We wanted people to use our product as a vehicle that would help them live with less and appreciate their possessions more,” Bringeus adds.
Growth: But at what cost?
Their ethos seems counter-intuitive in an industry that constantly encourages its consumers to buy the latest trends. But the duo believes that brands can attain financial success even when customers purchase less. The key is to focus on quality.
While typical fast fashion goods are cheaper than Asket’s clothes – a simple cotton T-shirt will set you back 35 Euros (S$56) – in the long run, the brand claims its garments last longer even after repeated washing and wear.
“Historically, prosperity in a capitalistic world is tied to growth. But we live in a world with finite resources, so infinite growth is impossible. Growth should not be the only metric of success. Frankly, it’s dangerous,” Bringeus says.
Meetings to track sustainable growth trajectories and ensure the brand stays hyper-focused on its core vision have replaced stressful quarterly earnings calls. Bringeus and Dworsky have been honest and transparent with their investors about their goals. Thankfully, their financial backers understand. They’re definitely doing something right. Asket turned profitable this year – proof that a fashion company built on sustainability is financially viable.
Another sustainable step
Asket recently introduced the Impact Receipt, which comes with every purchase. Instead of showing how much you’ve spent, it breaks down the amount of carbon produced in the making and delivery of your products.
It’s a level of granularity that currently doesn’t exist in the industry.
“We simply want to get consumers to understand and acknowledge the impact of their purchases. Other brands might say that you can shop your way to sustainability, but that simply is impossible. Every garment has an impact and we want our customers to reconcile that fact,” shares Bringeus.
Both admit that there’s still more they can do with the Impact Receipt. At the moment, while it reveals the carbon costs from the cotton farm to your doorstep, there are still missing pieces to the puzzle.
“The air freight carbon costs are a weighted average because we don’t have the technical set-up needed to calculate specific numbers for different countries,” explains Dworsky.
“Also worth mentioning is that our Impact Receipt doesn’t show the carbon costs you incur while using the garment. The costs at this stage of the garment’s lifespan are usually more than that incurred during production and delivery,” adds Bringeus. It’s something that they are working on.
The two of them also share other plans that are in the works, including a recycling scheme for old Asket clothes, a circular production and manufacturing process, and many more.
But the end goal is the same: encouraging consumers to buy less and ultimately taking responsibility for their purchase decisions and how that impacts not just their wallets, but the planet.