Le New Black
Oslo-based fashion brand, Greater Than A, has a mission to prove that high quality clothing can be made with no harm to the planet.
Greater Than A are a sustainable clothing brand based in Oslo, Norway, which is joint-owned by professional athlete and gold medallist, Aksel Lund Svindal, as well as Sales and Marketing Director, Marius Eckmann and Product Director, Terje Strömö.
When launching their brand, the team were quick to establish that the company should be about more than just a famous athlete putting their name on a piece of clothing; the team had a bigger purpose.
Jens-Petter Ring, Design Project Leader at Greater Than A, told us: “Greater Than A is more than Aksel. We want to discuss the bigger issues, and we have to change the way we are as people. We over-consume as a global population by 1.6 planets, and it’s especially a problem within the fashion industry.”
Throughout all of our discussions with Greater Than A, it’s only too clear just how passionate they are about sustainability and environmental issues. We quizzed them a little further on what exactly they’re hoping to achieve with their brand and how they plan on tackling these fundamental issues.
“We have a huge initiative to change the clothing industry into a more sustainable direction. Some brands are trying to do something, but very few make sustainability their key focus. But people won’t buy a piece of clothing just because it will help to protect nature. So our brand is founded on three pillars: to be appealing, functional and sustainable. This is what drives our distribution into more than one hundred top stores in Norway,” Jens says.
Jens continues: “Current trends are pushing us to buy things we don’t need, which leads to overconsumption. To name an example – think about a cotton sweatshirt. Very often, you’ll find the fabric is a combination of cotton and polyester, but this means that product can no longer be recycled. We have a mono-strategy in our company so we won’t combine synthetic fabrics like polyester with organic materials. This is how we’ve approached product design from the very beginning, which means our products can be easily recycled and go into a circular economy. This prolongs the lifetime of the raw materials, in turn, reducing over-consumption.”
Although Greater Than A are new to the fashion scene, they knew they needed a system like Brightpearl in place right from the very beginning, especially if they’re going to achieve the ambitious levels of growth and international expansion that the team are all striving for.
Jens says: “We’re currently in the establishing and growth phase. This was one of the critical reasons why we needed to use a system like Brightpearl – the automation tool and all the IT systems are now linked together. We want to reduce our workload and eliminate some of the manual processes by integrating more of the IT systems together. For any business, but especially a start-up like us, the workforce is very valuable. We need people to do more activities that are related to growing the business and spend less time on admin or systems processes. Technology is really going to help us with that.”
When researching ERP and back office systems, the team had a couple of mandatory requirements, which were for it to be cloud-based and able to scale with their growth plans. “We knew we needed a system that was cloud-based, in order to give us flexibility on where we do the work. But working in the cloud also makes it easier to integrate with other IT systems that are also cloud-based,” Jens explains.
- Flexibility to work in the cloud
- A system to scale with their ambitious growth plans
- International expansion
It was fellow Norway-based Brightpearl customer, Tom Wood, that pointed Jens and the team in the direction of Brightpearl. “When we started to look for a system, I rang a good friend of mine who runs Front Systems, a Norwegian POS for retailers, who had just had a conversation with Tom Wood. Morten Isachsen, one of the owners of Tom Wood, is a trusted source of information, so we went with the same solution they’d chosen – Brightpearl.”
With Brightpearl offering Greater Than A the flexibility to work from anywhere, and to integrate various systems with it, the team ensured the systems they did choose could all support their growth plans.
Jens tells us: “We chose Brightpearl, Shopify, Le New Black [a custom B2B platform for fashion brands], and a production developing platform called Delogue. If we were really going to believe in our growth as a company, we knew we needed all of these systems from day one, so we’re not caught by surprise due to rapid success.”
“We have large ambitions to expand internationally – we’ve already secured some sales in German-speaking countries for our new collection as well as a client in the US – so this was a key part of the decision to make this type of investment from day one,” Jens adds.
Le New Black itself is a popular solution with many of the Norwegian fashion brands that use Brightpearl as it allows businesses to fully digitize their wholesale operations. And as Brightpearl’s API is open source, custom integrations like this are not only possible, but straightforward for developers to set up. This enables businesses like Greater Than A to have the complete technology stack they want and a solid foundational structure for business growth.
- Cloud-based for flexibility and easy integration to other systems
- Automated system to reduce workload and eliminate back office tasks
- A system that allows the workforce to focus on business growth instead of behind the scenes tasks
And how does the Greater Than A team see Brightpearl fitting into their ambitious plans? Jens told us: “Growth and expansion is where Brightpearl will play a critical role for us. It will allow us to have a rapid build-up, manage our costs and allow us to work to sustainable change within the industry. This means every person working for us can focus on building the brand rather than working on standard back office tasks. They can focus on being ‘spearheads’ of the company and interacting with customers, rather than working in the office, doing tasks that our customers can’t see.”
With a truly passionate and charismatic team behind the Greater Than A brand, we know that their future looks bright, and very green.
And when thinking about the company’s future themselves, Jens says: “There are different measures of success. We have our sustainable focus and mission, we’re here to change the industry. Success for us is that we’re recognized as one of the groundbreaking brands who actually stood for something and who were able to change the industry as a whole.”
“But we also have to be economical in order to achieve this level of sustainability; we have to reach our sales objectives. We need to have commercial success. We believe you should rather ask yourself ‘How can a t-shirt cost £8?’ rather than ‘Why does it cost £80?’ If it costs £8, there’s someone in the supply chain who is being exploited, but this way of thinking needs to change,” Jens explains.
Looking ahead to the sustainability mission they have, Jens finishes by saying: “Success also means we are placed in the major countries in Europe, we have a good base for expansion and that we’re sitting alongside brands like Patagonia and discussing how to change the future of clothing.”