Sustainable menswear startup Tact & Stone Founder Landon Nash opens up about the impact of COVID-19 on his small, young brand and when we will all be ready to dress up again.
This article is part of Modern Fellows’ ongoing series exploring how startups, small businesses and retailers are adjusting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
About Tact & Stone
Landon, pictured above, built Tact & Stone after reading an article about the fashion industry and learning how wasteful it is.
“I was was blown away that it’s one of the largest contributors to climate change in the world,” he told me.
One of Tact & Stone’s biggest differentiators is its 100% commitment to sustainable fabrics. The company only uses organic natural materials or recycled materials to make their own custom fabrics.
The company incorporates those fabrics into what Landon describes as the “highest-quality, lowest-impact menswear on the market.”
(You can review examples of Tact & Stone’s product line in the photos throughout this article. All photos are courtesy of Tact & Stone and are used with permission.)
They combine that sustainability promise with an ironclad commitment to comfort, fit, and style. “No one should have to sacrifice these things to purchase sustainably,” Landon told me.
Tact & Stone is also committed to ethical manufacturing. They only work with suppliers and factories that are certified ethical.
I asked Landon to reflect upon the impact of COVID-19 on his small business and where he sees the future of retail and fashion on the other due of the pandemic. His first-person account is below, lightly-edited for grammar and length.
Over to Landon:
Quenching a pent-up thirst to dress up
“This year has definitely brought some interesting changes in everyday attire and style.
“In the immediate future, while we’re all mostly home, I believe that athleisure will be most prevalent.
“However, I think this is going to be short term. This virus won’t keep us home forever, and I believe there will be a thirst to get back to the office, restaurants, out with friends and family, and to begin being social beings again.
“When that time comes, people will start getting back to their style essentials.
“People will want to express their individuality again, and a lot of this comes through with style.
“We like to offer the classics and essentials that we know never go out of style: a perfect tee shirt, a crisp oxford, and a versatile sweatshirt are all needed in a man’s closet.
Brand discovery will start online
“The emergence of e-commerce is nothing new, and has been growing for quite some time. The virus has thrusted e-commerce on us even more.
“As we move forward I believe brand discovery will start online, whether that’s through social media, online marketplaces, or other digital channels. However, I don’t think digital will be the one and only channel.
“Before COVID, e-commerce only accounted for around 15% of retail purchases. The want and need for physical retail will continue, even after the virus.
“There will be changes, and I believe brands will have to think about how to best get in front of their customer and provide them with value. I believe this will be through a combination of digital and physical.
A post-COVID model of production
“I also think there will be a new cadence to production and sales. I personally believe that this old model was part of the problem and what contributed to the wasteful practices of the industry.
“This is why we focus on the essentials and the classics; the pieces that never go out of style, and can be worn (mostly) year-round.
“We want our customers to have a feeling of pride when wearing Tact & Stone, knowing that they are having a positive impact without sacrificing quality or style.
Surviving the retail apocalypse as a new brand
“As a new — and small — brand we were affected quite a bit by COVID. It’s difficult for newer brands to appeal to new customers with reduced discretionary income, and customers are more likely to go to brands they know and trust.
“However, because of our mission and authentic sustainability strategy customers have been coming our way.
“As we come out of COVID, I believe there are going to be some shifts in our industry as a whole:
- The acceleration of customers’ desire and need for brands to stand for something, and specifically for sustainability. This time has allowed many of us to slow down a bit, realize what’s important to us, and think about the future of our planet and people.
- The whole brand landscape will be different. Frankly, we don’t know who’s going to survive this. I believe Tact & Stone can be a leader in moving towards a more sustainable future for our industry.
“We built this company with a purpose, and I believe we will be able to make a significant positive impact. There will be big things coming for Tact & Stone.”
About JakeJake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.
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