Our Partners: Meet Oliver Charles
This week, Oliver Charles will launch their first crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Over the course of 48 hours, they’ll need to raise at least 70% of their funding goal to manufacture their very own sweaters–and they need our help to make it happen! Continue reading to learn more about the brand, get to know the co-founders, and how you can support their much-anticipated upcoming launch.
Tell us about your journey – how did Oliver Charles emerge?
OC: It all goes back to when we sat next to each other in 3rd grade. Growing up in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, outdoor adventure had a major influence on us. We’ve always preferred wearing durable, high performing clothes versus following fashion trends. It seemed that no matter the phase of our life, we always gravitated towards long-lasting clothes that felt good to wear, and when we found clothes that we felt good in, we wanted to wear them all the time.
Years later, we found ourselves as roommates in the Bay Area starting a sweater brand called Oliver Charles. The goal is to make clothes our childhood selves would be proud of.
When did you discover wholegarment manufacturing?
OC: When we were initially designing our sweater, we looked for ways to create a more comfortable fit and reduce waste. Wholegarment manufacturing checked those boxes - instead of sewing cut fabric parts together that are each knit separately, the Wholegarment process knits sweaters in one entire piece, creating a more durable sweater with nearly zero waste.
"Tailored Industry stood out versus other wholegarment manufacturers in part because of their brand vision."
They want to become a platform for on-demand knitwear. We're hoping we can grow together, remove the need for excess inventory, and eventually create bespoke sizes for our customers.
What does an innovative supply chain mean to you during the current clothing climate?
OC: The current climate of clothing involves a lot of waste. It’s become more normal than ever before to have low expectations for the quality of our clothes. Something like a fast fashion “deal” off the shelf may seem pretty sweet in the moment, although, if it’s cheaply made, it’ll need to be replaced, which is costly both to customers and our planet. For instance, each year in the US, 22 billion pounds of clothes find their way to the landfill or are incinerated (A New Textiles Economy).
This is an issue where we can all make a big difference. Just by wearing clothes for 9 months longer (versus donating or replacing), we can reduce our carbon footprint by 30%, which is equivalent to removing half a million cars off the road per person per year (BBC). Clothing longevity is important to us, which is why we’re creating a sweater that lasts a lifetime.
To create a sweater that people not only want to wear, but wear repeatedly throughout life, we’re constantly looking for innovative processes to improve our sweaters. Everything from the fibers we use, to the spinning of our yarn, to how we manufacture needs to be scrutinized. With innovative Wholegarment manufacturing partners like Tailored Industry, we’re able to 3D knit more durable, comfortable sweaters with less waste.
Tell us about your new campaign – what's the goal? What are the products like?
OC: This September, we’re launching our first sweater, which we co-created with our Customer Advisory Board. For the past several months we've been building a Customer Advisory Board as a better way to engage with our brand supporters about pre-launch product design. This community is a self-selecting group of people who believe in our mission and answered our call to help “co-create a sweater”.
Since we launched the community, we’ve received over 10,000 data points on everything from fit, style, construction, and color preference. We’ve even conducted Zoom calls with many of our 1,000+ members to better understand what they are looking for in a sweater. Each call gives us a chance to meet our customers face-to-face and directly learn about what they care most about.
The success of this campaign will allow us to launch our first sweater and build on top of this community. Our goal is to build a collaborative digital design studio where our customers and us can co-create future Oliver Charles sweaters.
You recently wrote a new book – what is it about and why is it important to Oliver Charles?
OC: Yes! We just finished writing The Little Things, which is a collection of interviews about what makes people feel good. Feeling good is a shared human experience, yet the reasons why we feel good are deeply personal. As a brand building products that not only look good but feel good, we explored what “feeling good” means to 53 talented, creative, conscientious people. We chatted with some really amazing people like Olympic athletes, best-selling authors, educators, founders, investors, artists, and chefs. Our hope is that this book reminds readers of their happiest moments and gives them the same comfort they’d get when wearing an Oliver Charles sweater. During our September launch, you’ll be able to buy the book along with one of our sweaters.
What will it mean to you if you hit your Indiegogo goal? How can we get involved?
OC: Our goal is to create the go-to item for a personal uniform - a durable sweater for any occasion that looks as good as it feels. In order to do that we’re aiming to raise $10,000 in pre-orders through the Indiegogo platform. The money raised from Indiegogo will allow us to place our first order with Tailored Industry as well as continue to develop the brand and the product.
For our launch, the first 50 backers will get access to early bird pricing. For those interested in joining our community and getting a message when we launch, sign up here: oliver-charles.com/launching-soon.
With so many small businesses needing our support in these unprecedented times, we believe it's an important moment to lend our support. Will you help Oliver Charles make their launch a success? Join the pre-launch community today, and once you've done that be sure to let them know on Instagram! @oliver.charles.clothing