No, we’re not talking salt and pepper here…. In the world of fashion retail, as you will all know, the year is divided into seasons. Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter are the main ones for sure but there are also pre-season collections, cruise collections, Christmas edits, sale seasons and so on. It is a never-ending cycle which brands must either follow with rigorous dedication or, well, choose not follow at all. At Tobias & the Bear, we choose not to season, instead focusing on building a core collection of favourites that are as essential in style and comfort as they are in desirability. That’s the plan anyway! Here’s why we ignore the traditional seasons…
Giving you guys what you really want
If you fall in love with something, we want you to be able to buy a bigger size when you need it – babies grow quickly and it can be frustrating when your favourite romper suddenly no longer fits but is no longer available. And why? Because annoyingly, in those few months since you purchased it, it’s now completely sold out and won’t be restocked as the season is ending. Kidswear and babywear don’t follow trends in the same way that adult’s clothing does so why follow the same rules. If you create something you love and that your customers love, why be forced to get rid of it within a restrictive six month window. Doesn’t that feel incredibly wasteful?
Speaking of being wasteful…
There’s SO much that can be said about waste in the fashion industry and the limits imposed by the fashion calendar can absolutely be held accountable for some of them. Brands churn out an insane amount of new products to make sure they’re keeping those seasonal cogs turning, and they’re often doing so in huge quantities to keep prices low. So much of this stock is never sold at full price, destined to go into the sale within weeks of it arriving in store, with the surplus heading to landfill. The amount of natural resources that are used to produce clothing that will never ever sell is crazy. We order what we believe we need. We never over order to make sure we have sale stock or to keep prices low. It’s unsustainable for a small business and it’s unsustainable for the environment.
So we don’t do anything that’s season-led?
We do, of course we do – it would be crazy to not make knits or shorts for example. But we follow our own timeline. Shorts will be introduced in the summer – when it’s actually warm (not in Feb when the Spring/Summer season dictates). And a baby will always need layers so our first knit was launched at the beginning of this year – we didn’t wait for autumn to arrive. And neither of these pieces will be dropped into the sale of the ‘season’ they were launched. Our prices aren’t as accessible as the high street (there’s a blog coming up on why this is) and some customers like to save or ask for something as a gift – how annoying if the item suddenly disappears from the website just because the season has ended. We don’t believe in effectively forcing someone to shop immediately.
Does this mean there won’t ever be an end of season sale? Or any other sale?
No of course not. We know how lovely it feels to bag a bargain and we want our customers to receive these treats! We might announce a birthday sale, a sample sale and maybe even a Black Friday treat. Also, not every piece in the core collection will remain in the collection forever. Some do of course, our Just Call Me Fox leggings have been with us for seven years, since day one in fact, but others won’t have such a long lifespan (maybe a colour no longer feels relevant, fabrics might change etc) and will eventually be discontinued. If this coincides with the traditional end of season sale then we’ll have our version of a sale at this time. What we do know is that this won’t happen within six months of launch. Most of our core collection has an average lifespan of about four years and this is only increasing.
But I’m sure you used to launch new collections in line with the seasons?
When we first launched, we started with a core collection that we built slowly and carefully. After a few years we started to feel the pressure of not offering our customers or our stockists enough newness in line with the seasonal calendar and we added seasonal collections alongside the core pieces. We were wary of doing so – it went against what we felt was right – and we were right to be wary. By the time the collections arrived (very stressful if the factory was running late) we sometimes just had a couple of months before the sale season arrived. And if the collections included shorts, for example, by the time people were ready to buy them, they were already discounted. This churn simply wasn’t sustainable. We stopped creating seasonal collections almost three years ago.
So when can we expect to see new styles being added?
We add pieces all the time – usually every couple of months though there have been some delays this year due to Covid/Brexit – this may be a small edit of new pieces or something bigger like our Miffy collections. Sometimes, new styles will launch in line with the start of new a season but often they don’t, and we restock constantly too to try and avoid your favourites being out of stock. If you are ever waiting on a style to come back in, sign up to the Notify Me and you’ll be alerted once a restock has arrived.
So there it is, our stand against the giant fashion seasonal machine and why you can be sure that your favourites will stick around for a pretty long time.