The Innovation 50: Paynter Jacket Co pioneers on-demand fashion with an authentic ethical purpose

The Innovation 50: Paynter Jacket Co pioneers on-demand fashion with an authentic ethical purpose

It started with a question for the founders of fashion on-demand label Paynter Jacket: could they build a business model that flies in the opposite direction of existing fashion brands whose profitable-but-wasteful approaches are based on overproduction and overconsumption?

Legend has it that one of its batches of 197 jackets provided a clear answer recently when it sold out online in just 86 seconds.

Founded on purpose

Founders Huw Thomas and Becky Okell both had experience of the fashion industry when the idea for the company first occurred to them. They were uncomfortably aware of the fact figures suggested that 100 billion items of clothing are manufactured each year. Around 20 percent of items are never sold, creating vast waste of resources – not to mention pollution from manufacturing and eventual incineration.

By contrast, and in response, Paynter creates limited edition jackets once a quarter for a few hundred people. They (the two founders) gather customer orders before the jackets are made. They always sell out and there is never any overproduction.

Daniel Deeks Osburn, Strategy Director, Freuds, nominated the Paynter Jacket Company to The Innovation 50 list.

Daniel says, “These days there is just too much of everything. There’s too much stuff, too much noise about that stuff, too many people with too little money left over at the end of each month to even buy that stuff in the first place.

“There’s a small, British clothing company I really like called Paynter Jacket. They release a small batch of products a few times each and you have to really rush to buy them as they sell out the entire run in, like, three minutes.”

Ethical marketing strategy

It might at first appear that Paynter is simply using scarcity to create demand, one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book. But there is much more to the Paynter marketing strategy, which is actually based on ethical fashion production.

The company puts the people for whom the clothes are made right at the centre of what they do by showing customers, digitally, what goes on behind the scenes.

Daniel points out, “To support their limited output, they communicate a lot about the production process, their inspirations, and supply chain.”

Allowing customers into the production process – seeing who makes your garment, how, and in what conditions – the founders believe means the wearer will be vested in it and therefore more likely to value and care for it.

Demand generation is, however, all about smart marketing.

“They have turned the email newsletter into a marketing powerhouse. Their marketing is so good, in fact, that I have not actually been successful in buying a jacket; but I do appreciate their efforts to make shopping more intentional. Even if that means I have to try harder to buy next time,” says Daniel.

Inspiring disruption

The founders of the brand hope that its approach will provide a blueprint for others. And indeed, the approach has been emulated.

But before you dismiss Paynter as just another disruptor brand, Daniel points out that this brand is a cut above the average.

He says, “Drop into Instagram and there’s a glut of identikit startup brands that, in trying to ‘disrupt’ something – anything – just look like the same old bland thing. It’s pixel-thin and cynical and I hate it. What’s really disruptive, to me, is earnestness.”

So this small, British fashion disruptor, enters The Innovation 50.