The B Series: You Are What You Lease

circular economy; fashion sharing economy; jeans for lease; fair fashion; eco fashion; purpose-driven business; business for good; innovative fashion

MUD Jeans

You may be the type of fashionista who loves to have a clean, crisp, new pair of jeans that you cycle out regularly. Or, if you’re anything like me, you cling onto your favourite pair until you realize you’ve just about worn right through the material.

Now what if I told you your favourite pair of jeans could be better for the world?

Back in the 90’s there was a ton of hype and awareness generated about sweatshops, illegal human rights manufacturing practices, among other horrifications that shocked consumers and shook the clothing industry at its core.

Bert van Son, CEO of B Corp MUD Jeans, bore witness to these malpractices, seeing first hand the horrible working conditions in factories throughout Bangladesh and China.

Another wave of backlash and frustration consumed news stands and trended on social media outlets when Rana Plaza collapsed back in 2013.

Though many large companies were hit with tons of negative media attention and boycotts, we’re still dealing with severe human rights violations, a misuse of chemicals, an overuse of water consumption and a disregard for the negative impact fast fashion is having on our world.

Fair fashion; eco fashion; jean leasing; lease a pair of jeans; circular economy jeans

MUD Jeans

That being said, it really is a breathe of fresh air when a company like MUD Jeans enters the scene. An industry as over-saturated as the fashion industry, it’s nice to find a company that’s not only B Corp certified, but that’s implementing a purpose-driven business model.

I had the opportunity to chat with Danique, MUD Jeans’s Marketing Manager based in the Netherlands, to learn more about how they’re changing the business of jeans for good.

Embracing some of the best practices from the sharing economy—all the while embodying the circular economy at its core—MUD Jeans has developed a revolutionary formula for retailing jeans.

Welcome to the new world of jean leasing.

MUD Jeans implements a lease program whereby shoppers become members of a fair fashion community. Customers pay an upfront membership registration fee of €25 and an ongoing monthly fee of €7,50. After the first year of renting a pair of jeans, members are given the option to trade in for a new pair.

80% of customers switch out for a new pair, sending back their original pants. With the returned pair of jeans in hand, MUD Jeans either converts and upcycles it for their vintage line or recycles the materials for new items.

During our conversation, Danique paid tribute to the fact that our resources here on our planet are finite.

Danique: “MUD Jeans understands this concept, constantly questioning business norms and asking ‘What if we all clean up our own mess?’ We are all responsible for our own materials.”

If every company took this approach to their business, the world would be a much nicer place. But it isn’t just about companies doing their part. Customers have to be willing to participate in this type of economy also.

Danique: “People like making an impact. When they return their jeans to us, they leave notes and lollipops in the pockets for us! They’re not just borrowing a pair of jeans—they’re also getting an experience and a story.”

Customer Loyalty; Membership; Circular economy; fair fashion

MUD Jeans

This is a prime example of authentic marketing, turning customers into loyal members of a community.

Beyond creating a sense of community, MUD Jeans is changing behavioural norms with customers in the Netherlands and around the world.

Danique: “The circular economy is in our DNA. The Netherlands, where our company is based, is a small country, yet over 135 million kilos of clothing are thrown away each year. And people think that’s normal. MUD Jeans can’t solve this problem alone, but we can start to make a difference.”

We chatted at length about the importance of the circular economy becoming more main stream. As trends shift, and as we see more and more consumers demand fair and eco fashion options, we’ll continue to scale the circular economy market space.

With MUD Jeans spearheading so much innovation within the fashion industry, I asked what the impact of becoming B Corp certified has had on their business. Danique explained that becoming B Corp certified positively opened the doorway for exposure, expanding their customer base to students and to consumers in the United States—groups that are predominantly familiar with the B Corporation movement.

With so much distrust still prevailing in the business sector and with the prevalence of greenwashing, it’s no wonder consumers are now leaning on the transparency and accountability of the B Corporation label.

Danique: “The relationship with customers is different when you work within the circular economy space. Customers are part of a community, because they stay in touch.”

Beyond the sustainability aspects of MUD Jeans’s business model, their circular business approach also brings people together to share stories, share experiences and make a change for the better in the fashion industry.

So as the weather gets a bit cooler and you’re looking for a new pair of pants to add to the wardrobe, be sure to consider your options to lease.

Did you enjoy this instalment of The B Series? Be sure to follow the blog and follow me on Twitter @CSRtist for more examples of effective corporate good.

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