Suppliers Each of our products is created in dialogue between our teams in Stockholm and skilled partners around the world – a network of farmers, weaving mills, yarn specialists, knitting factories and garment makers who we grow closer to with each new collaboration.
‘I grew up around shoemakers. Both of my parents worked in the shoemaking business, as did my grandmother and most of my relatives. In the summers I would help my father in his workshop, cutting leather and chalk lines where the stitches would go. Now I have been working in this business for 20 years myself.
‘We have a really tight relationship. I talk to them every day. It is a very collaborative process.’
Since ARKET’s first collection, we have been developing our shoes together with suppliers in Italy, Portugal and Spain. The majority of our production is done by a company called Effemme in the Italian region of Le Marche. It is an area known for manufacturing high-quality women’s shoes, and also where I grew up. We have a really tight relationship – I talk to them every day – and we have been growing and developing together over the years. It is a very collaborative process; they really understand our needs and the vision we have for the products. We usually go to visit them a few times each year to develop our new designs on site. It’s so much easier to try out ideas and modify all the small technical details when we’re there, in their environment, as all suppliers of the shoe components are gathered in the same area. Last makers, leather tanneries, heel makers, sole makers, trim suppliers and so on. It also helps to reduce the number of samples we need to produce and send back and forth between Italy and our design studio in Stockholm, which limits unnecessary waste. The input and help we get from our supplier is invaluable. But we have also been able to influence how they are working, by requiring that all of the leathers we buy need to be chrome-free tanned. ARKET is still quite a small brand, with products in limited quantities. But we are growing, and we’re focusing on timeless designs with a consistent palette of materials and colours year after year. This means that our supplier can trust that their investments in more sustainable practices will pay off. We’re not suddenly moving away from them to make something completely different with someone else.
When we are challenging the supplier to deliver more sustainable products, it also has effects on a wider scale. The materials they’re sourcing for us can be used by other clients as well, and together we are creating a growing interest in chrome-free tanned leather throughout the industry.
I feel we are very much on one and the same team – us, our supplier and their sub-suppliers. Everyone is working together to make an even better and more sustainable product, which is possible only if there’s trust and loyalty in the relationships.’