“Um, hello Anna? I’m terribly sorry, but I've got some bad news for you today. The fabric you wanted for the brown boots... well, how can I put it? ... well the machine that was supposed to dry the fabric after it was washed was defective and burnt out, with the fabric inside. I'm really very sorry, but we can't deliver the fabric!”
For the love of foxes... what a way to start the day! It was some time in July, only seven weeks before the launch of the autumn/winter 2018 collection, which was to have included a brown boot! Two weeks later everything was supposed to be in the factory in Portugal, so production could start immediately.
Then we’ll just have to get a different fabric!
No sooner said than done? If only it were that easy!
We usually work with small suppliers who only produce to order. Warehouse goods, in other words fabrics in stock, are the exception. Most of the fabrics are woven or dyed especially for us, and in the exact quantities that we order, to avoid waste.
It can take several months until such a fabric is ready to be delivered to Portugal for further processing. Let's do the maths: Seven weeks until the launch (= models are available in the shop!) but at least two months until the fabric can be delivered – that’s not going to work. Especially because the small company with the brown fabric would first have to replace the drying machine with a new one, which would presumably also take a few weeks.
So we had to find another solution.
One possibility: We resort to standard goods that other suppliers have in stock.
But in this case we couldn't find any supplier able to deliver organic fabric in time. However, during our search for a replacement fabric we noticed something: Many producers and suppliers reacted very positively to our explicit request for organic fabrics and materials from certified organic sources - simply by posing the question we were encouraging them to consider the advantages of organic materials and the increased demand for them.
So what was initially a medium-sized fiasco for us turned out to have long-term positive effects for everyone (apart from the community - the brown fabric was planned to be used in a vegan boot, which then couldn't be included in this collection).
Perhaps when they see that demand has increased, manufacturers will begin to realise that it's worth producing larger quantities of organic fabrics and keeping them in stock. They’ll then also be more likely to keep a larger selection of fabrics available for other customers.
When we first started Wildling Shoes, the selection in this area was still very limited.
But now we have a range of suppliers who have switched to organic fabrics or have larger quantities in stock. Since they can plan with us, it makes sense for them to keep the organic fabrics - which are usually more expensive - in stock. You see, it's always worth asking! And at some point there’ll be sufficient warehouse stock available in organic quality that when a fabric is suddenly unavailable we no longer break into a cold sweat! We think that even under these difficult conditions we’ve managed to put together a fantastic collection which hopefully has something for everyone!
Anna, Ran & Team Wildling