Starting as a premium sock and underwear subscription business in 2016, MANRAGS has evolved to become much more than just an online retailer, with the MANRAGS crowdfunding program launching this week. MANRAGS are leading the charge towards a circular fashion and textile industry, a change desperately required to reverse the consumer culture that sees 36,000 kg of clothing thrown out every hour in Australia alone.
Launching the first digital direct-to-consumer textile recycling program in Australia, MANRAGS have created a model which allows all textiles to have a second life. Whether this is reusing lightly worn garments by directing them to the charity sector, repurposing textiles through upcycling schemes, or recycling textiles by turning them into a brand new material. All reduce the number of textiles finding their way into landfill, whilst rewarding customers for disposing of their old clothes responsibly.
To support their exponential growth, MANRAGS are now embarking on their first capital raise, allowing both investors and like-minded individuals the chance to become part of this rapidly growing movement towards a circular economy. We caught up with Michael, Co-Founder and CEO of MANRAGS to hear a little more about the crowdfunding program and their ambitious plans for the future.
You started with sock recycling, and you have now expanded to accepting all clothing. Can you explain why you feel textile recycling is so important?
Australian’s are the second highest contributors to textile landfill per capita. In addition to discarding over 80% of clothing into landfill each year, we’re also consuming on average 27kg per individual. The number of items suitable for reuse or repurpose is very high. Truth is we don’t know what we don’t know, and there’s an enormous opportunity to create awareness and make a difference.
We launched our start with socks recycling program as a way to take responsibility for our own product, that last four days before we decided to extend it to the general public and recycle all socks. We saw the response to our sock recycling program and having validated that this was an excellent opportunity to make a difference, we then listened to our community, and we launched Australia’s first digital, direct-to-consumer textile recycling offering.
What’s next following the MANRAGS crowdfunding initiative? How do you see your business evolving in the coming months and years?
We’re moving fast, and we’re pioneering something Australia has been looking for. At the moment, we’re focusing on creating more awareness through partnerships. We want to make it easy for brands, corporates, councils, schools and all types of community groups to make an impact and divert textiles from landfill. Creating awareness is critical.
On the other hand, we are seeing our mission resonate well with customers, and this is driving loyalty to our innerwear brand and product sales. We’ll be investing in increasing our offering with a circular first approach.
Above all of this when we launched MANRAGS, we were a sock subscription brand for men, fast forward to 2020 and we are the country’s only direct to consumer textile recycler and an innerwear brand on its journey to become circular. We have outgrown our brand and particularly our name. Following our raise, the very first deliverable (which we’re currently working on) is our rebrand exercise to reflect better who we are today, who we are becoming and be more inclusive.
Many eCommerce fashion brands have huge issues with excess stock, plus the ongoing challenges of returned items and faulty product. Do you have any advice on how businesses can begin to address this critical issue?
We are offering all brands to ensure that none of their stock ends up in landfill. Our offering is extended to not just the brands but their customers through our technology. We’ve seen many brands and corporates look to us to provide take-back and recycling solutions for excess/dormant stock, uniforms and more. We’re on a mission to eradicate textile landfill and as we enter this new market opportunity most of our offerings are bespoke.
How do you see the ‘Circular Fashion’ evolving?
Personally, I see new brands focussed on circular fashion from inception, which is amazing. For us as well as existing brands, there’s an element of re-engineering the way we do things and its a journey. The critical piece here is that we continue to evolve, we support brands on their journey, and we celebrate every step taken.
As an online retailer yourself, what are the biggest challenges you face with trying to run a sustainability-focused business?
Commercial viability. We are not just a company for profit; today, we are a company with purpose for profit. The challenges are demonstrating that sustainability equates to success and being able to say that if you do good, good things come. We have seen 400% customer growth and demonstrated a 200% product revenue growth from our actions. These are only some of the metrics, and we’re working hard to be able to say that doing the right thing will ultimately benefit brands as well as the planet!
It’s an exciting time with the MANRAGS crowdfunding capital raise. What are your main goals and motivations behind this?
We know from experience that it takes a community to make a difference, and we saw this through our recycling programs. We also know that when we are in a position to make a difference and have validated a model, it is at that time that you need to invest in scale and growth.
We’re seeing significant growth and have demonstrated a unique model with multiple revenue streams, and we haven’t yet scratched the surface with the opportunity. We need to invest in creating a more significant impact as well as continuing to commercialise the output. Our community of early adopters who have created the early day validation and success deserve to join us on this journey, and that’s why we’ve chosen equity crowdfunding as the approach for capital raising. We know that government bodies are showing more and more interest and focus on this area and we’re not going to wait until its government-funded to make a difference!
Further Reading: Sustainability of Rental Fashion: eCommerce Subscription Models. Read More