Ben Alun-Jones: “There’s no point trying to put out the small fire, while there is a huge fire raging in the background.”

A round-up of some of the best advice Unmade co-founder Ben Alun-Jones shared with me during a conversation where we talked about everything from on-demand manufacturing to technology's role in helping the fashion industry be more sustainable.

Last week I had a one on one conversation with Ben Alun-Jones, one of the founders of Unmade, a company that is enabling clothing brands to create on-demand supply chains. Alun-Jones, who spearheads product innovation, conception and development at Unmade, started the company with Hal Watts and Kirsty Emery back in 2014. Below, I have rounded up some of Alun-Jones sartorial wisdom, that he shared with me, advice that could help the fashion industry do good business.

  1. “We are trying to change the industry, rather than trying to do it alone. It is much better to do it with great business, great innovators across the industries and amazing factories and partners we work with.”
  2. “It should be much easier for bigger businesses to invest, but they struggle to shift out of business as usual”.
  3. “Many businesses in this industry do not have the budget, but I do think that the value attached to innovating the business model is low. It doesn’t take a lot to invest in that first step; there needs to be a willingness to test”.
  4. “I think that there is no point trying to put out the small fire over here, while there is a huge fire raging in the background”.
  5. “If we can reduce the fact that we are making too much of the wrong stuff, it gives us the headspace to be able to get into the detail on how to make the product better.”
  6. “Not every product in the future is going to be customized by the end consumer”.
  7. “The real big challenge has been to try finding other businesses who really share our vision, share that desire to invest, innovate and risk trying something different.”
  8. “If we are talking about moving this enormous ship and turning it around so we can start making things in a completely different way, that requires great factories that think differently, that requires great machine factories that are willing to invest themselves. It is about bringing the whole ecosystem along with us.”
  9. “Too much of education is about ‘let’s produce a collection that we are going can sell to wholesalers, and that is how we make money, and that’s what we are training you to do’. I don’t think that is what the industry is going to look like in even 18 months”.
  10. “I think other industries are more visionary about what the future looks like and take a stronger stance ahead of the market. I have not seen that, well Patagonia, but there isn’t really that strong brand that took a stand ahead of consumer demand.”
  11. “Consumers are rapidly catching up. They are adapting faster than brands are able to adapt, which brings us back too if you are making products 18 months, ahead how adaptive you can be.”
  12. “You need to know your customer, that is the golden goose that can be used to drive the supply chain”.
  13. “The mood has changed. The conversation has changed. The industry is going to look very different because it has to deal very painfully with the problem of making too much stuff too far in advance.”

If you would like to listen to the conversation, you can do so by clicking the link below.

PART I

PART II

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Founding editor-in-chief & WearableTechStylist of FashNerd.com, Muchaneta has worked in the fashion industry for over 14 years. She is currently one of the leading influencers speaking and writing about the merger of fashion with technology and wearable technology and a regular contributor to digital news sites like Wareable.