Satori’s founders in their studio in Berlin: Joseph Finlayson and Tan Nguyen. Prior to founding Satori, both spent their careers at major companies in both consulting and fashion such as Bain, McKinsey and Zalando.

Choosing materials is surprisingly one of the most important business decisions a fashion label can make. It accounts for an estimated 65% of the label’s overall environmental impact, over 50% of the final garment’s production cost, and it is crucial for quality and visual aesthetics. However, sourcing quality materials can be a struggle, particularly for small and midsize companies with limited resources and limited influence over their supply chain network.

Challenges with the current material sourcing model

The industry still operates mostly offline, requiring buyers and sellers to travel around the world to meet each other throughout the year. In fact, little has changed since ancient Chinese merchants started selling silk to the west through the old Silk Road, except now horses and camels have been replaced by planes, cars, and trains. All of this travel contributes to the already large carbon footprint of the fashion industry.

Another major hurdle is the large minimum order quantities (MOQs), which can be deal breakers for many small and midsize labels. Even big labels can struggle to meet these requirements at times. For example, a small label in Europe typically wants to buy 200-300 metres of fabric, but Asian mills’ MOQs are often around 3000 metres due to both commercial and technical reasons.

How crowdsourcing works and why it can reduce waste

Labels can order fabrics and trims listed on Satori in any desired quantities or send in their own materials for crowdsourcing. The platform will find co-buyers and confirm orders as soon as MOQs are met. The checkout process offers a B2C-like experience with multiple payment options and “buy now, pay later” option.

Satori’s founders envision crowdsourcing as a big win for the material suppliers as well, opening up a new market that didn’t exist before. This first-of-its-kind campaign aims to create a global movement towards a new sharing economy model that can reduce fashion’s waste and over-production problem.

Through its unique platform, Satori also creates a more equal playing field for smaller labels by making sourcing preferred material as easy as buying clothes online. Labels have free access to the latest innovations in materials and can source directly from mills around the world.

What it takes to create impact at scale

Digital transformation has a great potential to solve fashion’s multi-faceted sustainability challenge. Tan and Joseph know that creating scalable impact depends on their ability to create a compelling change in the industry’s deeply-rooted habits and gain collaborations from industry stakeholders such as labels, suppliers, and investors.

They also believe the timing couldn’t be better on both the digital and sustainability fronts. Covid has forced the entire industry to be more open to new digital solutions. And a growing wave of new industry regulations makes it more important than ever for labels to be accountable for their impact on the planet and people.