At Otrium, we champion a future where all clothing produced is worn. Our core mission is to connect unsold inventory with potential owners, ensuring a win-win situation for brands and consumers alike. Ultimately, we aim to prevent this unsold stock from ending up in landfills. Alongside this mission, we aim to empower our customers to shop responsibly through our collaboration with Good on You, a leading impartial organisation that rates brands against three key criteria - labour rights, environmental impact, and animal welfare. In line with this partnership, we’re showcasing brands for whom conscious fashion is at the very heart of what they do.
This month, we chat with Niels Eskildsen, CEO and co-founder of Designers Remix.
Sustainability: what does it mean to you?
“To me the word sustainability defines the concept of the current generation's ability to meet our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. But we are usually cautious to use the words sustainability and fashion together and prefer to talk about responsible fashion at Designers Remix.”
Can you tell us more about Designers Remix?
“Designers Remix was founded in Copenhagen in 2002 by my wife and me, based upon an idea of making full use of already existing resources by redesigning, remixing, and upcycling deadstock fabrics and garments.”
Deadstock fabrics are leftover fabrics used for other reasons and left behind for various reasons, initially causing fabric waste. By using this kind of fabric, we don’t need to increase the demand for newly produced fabrics, which is less harmful to the environment.
“Ever since the start, it has been our mission to make fashion better.”
What is your role at Designers Remix & how did you get there?
“I’m the Co-Founder and CEO of Designers Remix and you could say that it was coincidence and love that got me mixed up in fashion as my wife, Charlotte Eskildsen, is the creative brain behind Designers Remix.”
Where did the journey of Designers Remix start?
“To be honest, when we started back in 2002, we didn’t know anything about sustainability. We were very inspired by the concept of upcycling or creative re-use as we call it, where we could transform unwanted products into new exciting products. Over the years we started to develop normal collections but always with upcycling as our main design philosophy.”
Could you share a bit more about the challenges of achieving garment certifications?
“Before starting a certification process there are several things you need to have aligned. Firstly, it is important to have the buy-in from the management/owners as it will make the products more expensive. Do I have the buy-in from the design team as they will have less fabric options available? Is the supply chain certified? Your suppliers from cradle to gate need to be certified in order for the garments to become certified. Lastly, which certifications are actually making sense for the brand? And then you can start with the actual certification process…”
You’re currently working on getting garments GOTS certified, what does the process look like? ?
“We got the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Global Recycling Standard (GRS) certifications in late spring this year and we will have the first certified products arriving in stores on our pre-spring collection.”
The GOTS standard is the worldwide certification standard when it comes to organic textile production. It’s based on ecological and social values. The entire supply chain is reviewed and certified.
What is the biggest challenge in getting the full supply chain from cotton fibre to final garment GOTS certified?
“For us, it has been that some of our key suppliers who we have worked with for years weren’t certified. We try to persuade them that it would be a good investment for them, not only better for the planet, but also for their own business.”
What do customers value most about your brand and the garments?
“At the end of the day we are a fashion brand and we hope that our customers buy a product from us because they think it’s a beautiful garment. I hope that the fact that we try to make fashion better would make them feel even more attached to the product and take good care of it.”
You’re working on getting the official B Corp certification. What is your motivation to become a B-corp?
“B Corp is for us the ‘Rolls-Royce’ of certifications as it certifies not only a product but your company. We just received news that we have become B Corp certified with a certification score of 99.5.”
B Corp is a third party certification that meets the highest standards of overall social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. It assesses the overall impact of a company. To become certified, a business must score 80/200 points divided over five categories: governance, employees, community, environment, and customers, next to changing the company articles of association. Companies need to re-certify every three years.
What are the most important learnings from the process so far?
“Certifications take time and it’s important to do your homework properly before you start.”
Where do you see your brand in 5 years? - What do you want to have achieved by then?
“Hopefully still making beautiful long lasting garments in a more responsible way. And if we all have had fun doing so then it has been a good ride.”
What will the perfect future of the fashion industry look like?
“Less fast fashion and more quality fashion. We need to buy less but better pieces of garments, that last longer!”
What is one thing you hope others will learn from your journey?
“It’s never too late to start being more responsible.”
How do you stay optimistic and persistent in the fight against climate change?
“By looking at my kids every day…”
Do you have a pro tip for extending the life cycle of your wardrobe?
“Read the care label!”
Do you have a book recommendation?
“Bill Gates ”How to avoid a climate disaster” is a must-read and “The Anomaly” by Hervé le Tellier has a really crazy ending (do not cheat and read the last page…).”
What’s the most important aspect you keep in mind when shopping for sustainable fashion?
“Quality – Quality – Quality.”
Do you have a philosophy or quote you live by?
“It’s translated from Danish but I hope you get the point ‘The only thing that comes from doing nothing are dust bunnies’.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“It’s not advice but a quote by Robert Swan ‘The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.’”
What’s a quick change people could make in terms of being more sustainable?
“Luckily there are so many small changes people can make, eat less meat, take the bike sometimes, and when it comes to buying clothes buy less but better.”