Sustainability is in Samuji's core values. The company was founded to create aesthetics and quality designed with good means, and we still live by this purpose.
For us, sustainability means longevity - products, environment, people and happiness. Every Samuji product is designed to offer timeless and emotionally durable style as well as high quality in material. Our goal is to create products that look and feel accurate after a long time too.
Longevity also means the aim to work responsibly, socially and ecologically. We want to act kindly towards people and the environment.
Sustainability means actions. It's not enough to just have great values that guide the work, but it requires being honest of the state things are today, and it means setting goals to do things better.
Samuji is not there yet. We are not sustainably lean, and we certainly haven't done enough. However, we're doing our best to learn to do better. To do this, we want to publish our goals and calculations of the current state. The year 2021 will be a big year for us, as we aim at posting a full sustainability report, for the first time, including analysis of how we have reached our goals in 2020. The coming report will open Samuji's sustainability strategy and code of conduct.
Samuji has four main areas in the sustainability strategy:
- Design & Materiality
- Samuji Archive
- Samuji Circular
From these, Design & Materiality and Operations create the foundation for a more sustainable company, as they set a target and processes of how we act responsibly. This way, the mentioned areas influence directly on the responsibility of a single product or service bought from the brand.
Samuji Circular and Samuji Archive are direct services to enable our community to recycle and act more responsibly. Samuji Circular service encourages Samuji customers to recycle their used Samuji pieces effortlessly. Samuji Archive service allows renting clothing from the past collections.
Design and Materiality
Materials and Sourcing
Long-lasting quality, emotional durability and fabric diversity are the cornerstones of Samuji materiality. The longevity of both the physical material, combined with durable style, enables us to keep products longer in use, thus reducing the environmental impact.
Material diversity is for us an essential strategy as it helps to mitigate the impacts of the massive monoculture of cotton and polyester production, that account for over 80% of global fashion and textile production. In 2018, which is the latest full year we have calculated all our raw material use, we used 23 different fibers/ raw materials for our clothing and accessories production. Materiality and functionality are the starting points of our design work. We choose our materials carefully and consider aesthetical, quality, provenance, ecological and ethical viewpoints in our sourcing and selection process. We also want to reduce the use and need for producing new materials, and source deadstock fabrics and yarns from our suppliers, in addition to using our own surplus materials.
Samuji has a long list of suppliers, which is mainly due to the level of quality and expertise required from each supplier and behind each material. Aiming at top level from yarn to fabric, or throughout the process of creating a material, many of the suppliers have a long history in a very specific area of production. Using small suppliers also allows purchasing small amounts of materials, and further on, to keep the quality intended for the final product.
In sourcing, our principle is to look for suppliers from the neighbourhood first, then move further in the geographical map. The same principle is used when choosing and sourcing for manufacturers.
Leftovers & Surplus
Design is the most powerful tool to create sustainability. At Samuji, we aim at using every piece and inch of fabric ordered. Production leftover, cutting scraps, in very small size is the only waste fabric created in our process. We do not have an exact number for the amount of this, but work to calculate it. Every piece of fabric bigger than 10x10cm is designed to become a new product, used for next collection samples or sold directly to customers in special events. We use surplus from our own orders, but purchase more also from the fabric suppliers we collaborate with.
Samuji doesn’t have overstock that would be wasted. By offering pre-order service for customers, we can also anticipate the exact amount of products to be ordered and sold, to avoid overstocking and producing products that are unwanted. Pre-orders are used in more unique pieces, and this service started in November 2019.
All Samuji pieces are designed and manufactured with longevity in mind. However, keeping items in good condition and usable for as long as possible requires care.
It is our responsibility to provide assistance and advice on how best to take care of Samuji items and the materials. We help to correctly use and take care of the pieces to prolong their life cycle - to help to minimise the environmental impact of the use phase.
Since 2011 we have provided our customers with a leaflet on essential qualities and principles of care for different materials. We also offer care advice for customers in-store. Since 2018 we have collaborated with Arkivé Atelier, a company specialised in clothing and accessories care. Their insightful and practical in-store workshops and pop-ups have become hugely popular, and their care equipment is available at Samuji House. We are happy to assist our customers also if they have more unique needs for care or repair.
Suppliers, Production and Manufacturers
We value and aim for long-term relationships with all of our suppliers and collaborators. With many of our fabric suppliers and garment factories, we have worked together since the very first Samuji collection launched in spring 2011.
We have also worked with many of the artists, print designers and illustrators, who design prints for us since we were first launching our in-house fabric prints in 2014.
More than half of our clothing and accessories manufacturers have collaborated with us more than four years:
- 23% with us for more than 8 years,
- 58% for more than 4 years.
More than half of our fabric manufacturers have collaborated with us more than eight years:
- 52% have collaborated with us for more than 8 years,
- 91% for more than 4 years.
Currently, we work with 12 factories for clothing and accessories production and 23 fabric suppliers. From our manufacturers, 7 factories are located in so-called low-risk countries and 5 factories in increased risk countries (Italy and Romania). Our biggest factory is Baltic Intertex in Estonia, with 41% of 2020 (August-December) manufacturing. In total, approximately 44% of our manufacturing is in Estonia in autumn 2020, 19% in Lithuania, 30% in Italy, 6% in Portugal and 1% in Romania. From our material suppliers, 3 are located in low risk countries and 20 in increased risk countries (Italy).
Our supplier and manufacturer list is complete and contains all factories we are working with, and it also includes information on their certifications.
Among these suppliers and factories, there are several small artisanal workshops who supply one specific material or end-product to us. Among these, there are several family-owned businesses, for example in Italy, that have existed for more than half a century. Our strategy in choosing many suppliers instead of one big is to secure the continuum for specialized handicrafts, but also to offer a full wardrobe and home offering.
As we notice having manufacturers also in increased risk countries, we have noted the requirement to follow these manufacturers carefully. We do this by personally auditing the companies more often, but also by openly discussing our sustainability requirements and how they can be met.
Whenever we choose a new manufacturer or supplier, we work to ensure it meets the requirements set for our brand and sustainability principles. These requirements are audited by visiting personally the factory and interviewing of the basic standards that ensure workers' rights such as no child labour, no bonded labour, a safe workplace and no excessive overwork. Many of our manufacturers and suppliers have certified operations or materials and we prefer partners with audited and standardized processes and methods.
See full supplier list here.
All of the Samuji store and online store packaging materials are made from renewable raw material and can be recycled. The items purchased in Samuji House, the Helsinki flagship store are wrapped in thin paper and then if needed, packed in paper bags.
The thin paper is from Dispak in Estonia, and it can be recycled as energy waste.
The paper bags are produced in Finland by Cabassi and made of 100% paper material. The bag can be reused at home and recycled as paper. We hope that the carefully chosen quality encourages not to waste it but reuse it as long as possible.
The post packages used to send items purchased in our online store are produced in Finland by Pussikeskus and are also 100% paper. These packs can be reused as a biowaste bag or recycled as cardboard. The material in the post packages is 100% produced in Finland.
In 2020 (January-end of August) we have used 1000 pcs of the thin wrapping paper (100% paper, recyclable as energy waste, from Dispak, Estonia), 1000 pcs of the shopping bag (eco shopping bag from Cabassi, Finland, bag and handle 100% paper, recyclable as paper) and 500 pcs of the post packages (100% paper, reusable as biowaste bags or recyclable as cardboard, from Pussikeskus, Finland). Thus, all in all we have used in 2020 until September 1, 2500 pieces of packaging material, 100% of which is made from renewable material and 100% is recyclable.
We also have a thin silk wrapping paper, produced by Napakka in Finland, made from 100% recycled paper, but we haven't used that in 2020. We have set goals for 2021 to research our packaging materials further and to work towards ensuring a bigger percentage of the raw material is recycled and/ or FSC certified.
Energy and Waste
The Samuji studio, Samuji office and Samuji flagship store are located in Kämp Galleria shopping center in Helsinki, Finland. Kämp Galleria has applied for the LEED Operation & Maintenance: Existing Buildings certification, and was granted the LEED GOLD level standard in May 2020. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most widely used environmental rating system for buildings in the world.
The LEED program measures, among other things, the energy and material efficiency of the building, water usage as well as recycling and waste management. Maintenance and management of the building are assessed and developed during the application period.
In Kämp Galleria the overall CO2-emissions were lowered by appr. 114 tCO2 following the assessment.
Internally at Samuji studio and store, we recycle 100% of our waste and reuse all possible packaging material. For example, 100% of the plastic clothing bags in which the clothes are wrapped for transport from factory to Samuji House to protect them, are reused as garbage bags. We have advised our suppliers to avoid over-packing, as we aim at doing ourselves too.
Samuji Circular is a service aimed at lengthening the lifecycle of existing Samuji garments. Launched in May 2016, Samuji Circular aims at extending the life cycle of Samuji clothes and accessories. Samuji Circular offers an effortless way to both recycle items, and on the other hand, find second-hand gems.
Samuji Circular works as follows: Customers can bring or ship their Samuji pieces to Samuji House, the flagship store in Helsinki. These pre-loved treasures will be made neat again and offered for new owners to purchase alongside the brand's new garments.
Another service launched in January 2020, is Samuji Archive. It is a rental service for clothing and accessories, carefully selected from our previous collections. The Archive includes many favourite and sought-after styles and pieces from current and coming collections too, to offer a wider range of styles and sizes. The rental service is open for everyone.
Samuji Archive is our way to mitigate the environmental impact of the samples developed for each collection by enabling our community to use them. The Archive is also a possibility for new Samuji friends to explore Samuji styles and quality at a moderate cost. It is an essential value for us, to allow as broad as possible audience to enjoy well thought and responsible materials and design.
Samuji also co-operates with other rental services. Starting from summer 2020 a collection of Samuji styles is available for rent in the newly founded rental service The Ateljé.
We have committed to improving our sustainability and accountability actions by creating a full sustainability strategy by the end of the year 2020. We aim at setting quantitative and qualitative targets for raw material sourcing and design, production, social responsibility, energy & waste and CO2 emissions. We also want to strongly state our perspective on circular fashion, and operations that we aim to achieve in participating in more sustainable fashion industry.
We have already confirmed to aim our own operations to be fully climate neutral by 2030 and start tracking achievements around this target among other numbers.
We plan to have a supplier Code of Conduct (CoC) which includes all the basic standards to ensure workers' rights such as no child labour, no bonded labour, a safe workplace and no excessive overwork. We aim to report once every two years on implementation of this Code of Conduct.
In 2021 we aim at paying more attention to supplier and manufacturers sustainability by actively improving recommendations, requirements of reporting and auditing.
Sustainability Goals for 2021
For the year 2021, we have set sustainability goals for our raw material use. The main objectives are:
- Reduce the use of conventional cotton. Conventional cotton is the single most used fibre in Samuji collections. Our goal is to replace conventional cotton with organic cotton, bast fibers and Lyocell/ Tencel
- Increase the use of bast fibres (to 15%)
- Increase the use of organic fibres (to 10%)
- Establish the use of surplus and deadstock fabrics
- Increase the use of recycled fibres (12%)
- Increase the use of monomaterials
- Replace part of viscose use with Lyocell and Tencel
From 2020 on, we will yearly report the full goals, how the goals are reached, as well as the total change in percentage. We will also set practical goals for waste and energy consumption, recycling level and reductions.
Energy and Waste
For 2021, we will define goals for every part of sustainability, including energy and waste.
What Have We Achieved?
Materials and Fibres
The last full year, when we have calculated our raw material use on fibre level per styles designed, is the year 2018.
In total, Samuji used 23 different fibres in clothing and accessories:
- 76,8% of the fibres used were natural fibres,
- 12,5% renewable synthetic fibres (cellulose fibres) and
- 10,6% synthetic oil-based fibres.
Breaking down the main categories, conventionally produced cotton counts to the most significant share, 32,3% of all fibre used.
Bast fibres account for 10,4% of all fibres used. These environmentally better options - linen, ramie, hemp and jute - are easily renewable and require naturally only a little irrigation and significantly less pesticide, herbicide and fungicide.
Recycled wool accounts for 8% of all fibres used. Recycled polyester 0,5% and recycled cotton 0,4%.
Calculated by order quantity, 82,9% of FW20 collection's materials are repurposed. This can be broken down to surplus materials coming from Samuji's previous collections (66,9% of all material used in the FW20 collection), and to deadstock materials coming from our suppliers (16% of all materials used in FW20 collection).
In 2020, we have also added the use of certified organic (GOTS) cotton and wool. GOTS cotton accounting for 3,2% and certified organic wool 6,9% of all fibres used.
These numbers account for the period, from August to December 2020, by order quantity. The full year of 2020, we will calculate and report during the year 2021.
Samuji Archive and Samuji Circular
Samuji Archive and Samuji Circular are important parts of our sustainability strategy as both offer ways to lengthen the life cycle of clothes and accessories and offer our community new, environmentally friendly approaches to clothing consumption.
In 2020 (January-August), Samuji Archive formed 2% of our Helsinki store turnover. Samuji Circular formed 1% of our Helsinki store turnover.
We believe that these kind of services have long term potential in changing fashion consumption towards more sustainable and we are committed to developing such services further.
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