Shopping in the big online shops usually means that you look for the product you want, click “Add to cart,” and then choose between “Premium express” shipping or the “Deliver on the desired date” option. Practical, quick, uncomplicated.
Well, we can do that too, of course. Our shop always has all models on stock in every size!
Okay, no, we actually don’t – as you may perhaps have had cause to discover. But because we see great value in being a transparent manufacturer with a transparent supply chain, we are also more than happy to explain why you sometimes have to wait a little longer or even – in some unfortunate cases – in vain for your Wildlings.
So today we’d like to take you behind the scenes once again, in the hopes of being able to show you what slow fashion and fair production, coupled with cost-efficient operation, mean for us.
If you’re producing canvas shoes, like sneakers for example, you’re more likely to find the relevant expertise in Asia than in Portugal. They’ve been manufacturing textile shoes in Asia for years, and all the major factories are equipped with the appropriate machinery and trained personnel.
Yet we’ve still made the choice to produce in Portugal, and there are a number of reasons for that. The proximity of the country means that it’s easier for us to check up on things regularly on site, to monitor production, and to make sure that the working conditions are in line with what Wildling promises. The production companies outsource some jobs to sub-contractors, and it’s easier to keep an eye on that this way than it would have been in Asia. Besides, the coffee there is simply amazing! :)
All these steps mean that production and staffing costs are higher in Portugal than they would be in Asia. That’s a price we’re willing to pay. It also means, however, that we have to plan the amount of materials we need with painstaking precision. Having a bunch of Wildlings sitting in our warehouse waiting for new owners is neither sensible nor financially prudent. Large companies can compensate for this by selling the leftover shoes at knockdown prices in sales or at outlet stores at the end of the season – and nowadays the fashion industry splits the year into at least eight seasons – with the reduced price for these bargains already factored into their pricing. And unfortunately, some companies even go so far as to burn the leftover articles from a collection because it’s not worth storing them somewhere just because nobody wanted to buy them. That’s the consequence of having all articles available at the drop of a hat.
The planning process for a Wildling collection begins roughly one year in advance. As an example, the order for an upcoming Spring/Summer collection actually has to be sent to the factory during a time when this year's Spring/Summer season isn’t even over yet. As a young company, we can only make our best guess at next year’s sales figures.
Every season we plan for production to accommodate a far greater number of shoes than in the previous season, but no matter how optimistically we calculate, up to now, the number of actual orders has taken us a bit by surprise. But we’re getting better!
Of course, until we have it down, we could just borrow money to overproduce and cram our warehouse full – just to make sure that everyone who wants a particular shoe in a certain size and color will definitely get it. But the economic risks are considerable. And even if our shoes were a lot cheaper – we wouldn’t want to mass produce them, only to get rid of them afterwards just because our planning was off or the green models sold better than the yellow ones.
In a nutshell, we are always glad when we don’t leave our Wildlings in the warehouse to eke out a dark and dreary existence.
The fashion industry has some catching up to do in this respect. We see it as a balancing act between having a large immediate supply and ensuring sustainable manufacturing and production methods. But we will not take the path of relying on mass production. We give the Wildlings the time they need to grow strong and healthy before releasing them out into the great wide world... that presents its share of challenges, but it’s part of what Wildling Shoes is all about.
Besides, rules were made to be broken at some point, right?
We will be happy to answer any questions you might have about manufacturing methods, production, and the supply chain – just write to us!
Run Wild and Fair! Anna, Ran & Team Wildling