Entretien avec Samy Ziani, co-fondateur de Hast

Interview with Samy Ziani, co-founder of Hast

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As we happily turn the page on multiple lockdowns and curfews, summer already brings its share of challenges. At Hast , we approach it with serenity. But we wanted to come back to this Covid crisis and its impact on the functioning of fashion brands. The crisis has disrupted many logics in terms of production, sales and communication. This is why Samy took part in the interview game. He wanted to speak, to tell you how we got through this period, why we acted the way we did. And of course, tell you about the direction we are taking next.

How does production work at Hast normally?

We operate on a just-in-time system. The idea is to produce as close as possible to demand to avoid overproduction. To do this, we try to determine future sales in advance, and we plan our collections accordingly. This system makes it possible to always have adequate stock and excellent value for money.

Each year we adapt according to what we consider to be the expectations of our customers, but also according to our hopes for certain products or the analyzes that we were able to carry out from the previous season. The idea is also to always keep the price affordable.

We are obviously aware that we could sell more by manufacturing more stocks, but we want to control our production and not fall into the vicious circle of permanent promotion and massive clearance of ever less qualitative products.

Another important point is that of interries. At Hast, we work without retailers – resellers. If you want to buy our products, it will be either on the site or in our own stores. Production is thus managed more easily. If we had pre-orders in advance, from department stores for example, we would have to produce more, at the risk of recovering the goods and producing at a loss.



Why is this operation incompatible with the very principle of sales?



 

When a brand produces in reasonable quantities, and with low margins, discounts have less place. At Hast, we apply a margin coefficient of between 2 and 2.5 times the production cost. A traditional fashion brand tends to revolve around 5, or even more. This allows us to offer a price that seems fair to us for the garment , but also gives us less room for maneuver. If we do promotions, we partially or completely eliminate this margin, and we handicap our future development capacity (less money will be available to invest in subsequent collections for example). It's also a question of principle, we want to allow the customer to buy a Hast product all year round and not just during sales.

The strategy of certain brands, which consists of increasing margins and prices and then making the customer believe that they are winning during sales, does not really please us. We do not want to devalue our products by selling them cheaper but always offer them at the price they are really worth. We are not going to deceive our customers either.

It may happen that we do small promotions (this is what will happen during the upcoming sales, 10% reduction from 100€ of purchase). This is possible thanks to economies of scale in logistics (when we send several products at the same time), this allows us to make some cash, and then gives us an opportunity to thank our customers. Because our very operation leaves us few possibilities in terms of loyalty.

How did you adapt to the health crisis and the closure of stores?

Our functioning has inevitably been called into question by the crisis but we are proud to say that we have resisted very well. Managing our business healthily allowed us to survive the shock. We did not have to carry out massive clearances – which was the case for many brands – our customers all responded.

We had assessed a production level linked to our sales from the previous year and our growth expectations. The closure of stores for several months inevitably shook up these forecasts a little. We found ourselves with more stock on certain products and much less on others (which sell both online and in store, particularly our more casual range).

A brand generally operates on a rational model, and a crisis is, by definition, irrational. We were therefore forced to adapt. For example, by promoting the production of timeless formal shirts which are sold throughout the year (despite teleworking), to the detriment of seasonal collections. These, if we do not sell them, quickly become inappropriate (fabrics unsuitable for the period for example).

What means do you envisage, in the long term, to transform the consumer's relationship with clothing?

This is a subject that has been close to our hearts since the creation of the brand. We try to explain things in an educational way. Why do we use this or that material? Why is using natural materials or seeking local know-how more ethical?

For 8 years now, the consumer's relationship with clothing has been a subject that we wish to address. We want to talk about maintenance, provide style advice, explain how to recover damaged products. This is why we developed several projects simultaneously. We notably carried out upcylcing and worked on domestically compostable packaging with the company TIPA (we are also proud to be the first French fashion brand to offer this alternative on the market).

The fashion industry is often singled out for its excesses, but it is a sector that will always continue to exist since people will always need to dress themselves. We are part of this generation of brands who are aware of the mistakes of the past and who wish to place fashion in a logic of sustainability and responsibility. Explain that we can produce less but better. And stop pushing people to buy things they don't need.

We also try to give ideas, especially in this complicated period. This is why we have calculated our carbon footprint rigorously, we will communicate the results soon, we are trying to obtain the BCorp label, we are increasing the share of certified organic fabrics… We hope, and we are quite optimistic, that fashion will go in this direction. Hasta la vista!