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Sewing a sustainable digital future with Stanley & Stella

“Buy less, choose well. Make it last.”
Vivienne Westwood

Nothing moves as fast and furiously as fashion and design. Trends, styles, collections and seasons rapidly come and go, sometimes even faster than stores can stock shelves and fill orders. Fashion dictates what’s in, out, coming back or gone for good, and keeping pace with it seems nearly impossible. But what happens when you slow it all down and throw the latest digital technology into the mix? Well, Stanley & Stella happens.

In less than a decade, the apparel world has grown into what is now one of the largest and fastest growing industries globally. However, as the industry matures, so do consumers who are increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to the current resource-expensive fast-fashion system. More and more people are aware of the ecological and social effects that are supported by hyper consumption and are asking brands to hit the brakes.

“Stanley and Stella is ready and proud to take on the responsibility of facing up the challenge to change the textile’s industry long established behaviours. I know it will take time to change these, but we can and we will.”

Jean Chabert, founder of Stanley & Stella

At Stanley & Stella, a Belgium-based sustainable B2B apparel brand, quality has always taken the front seat, right from the start and at every level of production. Using the latest innovations in digital technology and data management, the brand has managed to deploy its operations in over 100 countries, while building a strong community of 710 retailers around the globe, and providing tailor-made customer service in a sustainable manner.

We sat down with Alexandre de Goussencourt, CIO of Stanley & Stella, and Julien Henrotte, Digital Specialist, to chat about the powerful transformation their company is currently going through.

Quality matters, big time

As more and more consumers grow eco-conscious and are determined to buy responsibly, brands like Stanley & Stella are becoming a part of mainstream culture. In that context, being able to share the right information, at the right time and through the right channels, is crucial to build trust around the brand.

With a fully integrated cloud-based approach, Stanley & Stella are taking apparel retailing to new sustainable heights. Driven by the vision of building a community that reflects their values and shares their strong belief in putting quality before quantity, the Belgian brand is committed to delivering exceptional experiences. As Alexandre, CIO of Stanley & Stella, explains, “we want to create premium products and provide the best quality possible. At the end of the day, everything is about the quality of our products and our values.”

“Our goal is first and foremost to build a community, not to sell to clients. We are looking to create an experience, going beyond the traditional customer experience.”

Julien Henrotte, Digital Specialist

Stanley & Stella believes that every piece of clothing tells a story, and it’s all about telling the right one. All of their fabrics are made from sustainable material, such as organic cotton, modal, tencel, linen and wool. In a world where every purchase matter, guaranteeing transparency and traceability is key to ensuring environmental and social responsibility.

By moving their operations to the cloud and digitally integrating their web shop, offices around the world and supply chain operations, Stanley & Stella are able to track back a specific batch at any given time throughout the whole supply chain, and provide detailed data concerning its content and origins.

Cloud-based technology also provides the brand IMG_4958with real-time visibility and analytics to track performance and to act with insight: “We’re pumping data into our Business Intelligence department and crunching it to better understand our suppliers and our clients,” explains Alexandre.

As a next step in bridging all the gaps, and providing their customers with all the information they could possibly need as they make purchasing decisions, Stanley & Stella are thinking of digitally integrating their offices around the world with their producers’ ICT systems, through sharing information and aligning their management processes. “Both our office in Bangladesh and the suppliers we work with could be integrated in our system, rather than having to replicate everything locally, and working across different ecosystems,” explains Alexandre.

The company is also exploring the wearable side of IoT, notably smart tags that could be used to track every single item as it moves through the supply chain, from field to factory to shop. Customers could then scan these chips with their phones to get the full story behind the clothes they buy.

Work hard, play hard

Stanley & Stella are also continuously looking at new ways to nurture conscious consumption, while building social and environmental excellence into their community. And it all starts with the right digital mind-set.

Technology has always played a large role in the apparel industry, and for Stanley & Stella, this couldn’t be more true. Alexandre and Julien are early tech adopters. Playing around and experimenting with new gear is something they enjoy doing, and that has played an important part in bringing the company where it is today.

Right from the beginning, the idea was to build a digital company. We started with Dynamics, and now that the brand is expanding, we can easily scale, create new functions and automatize flows. Azure makes everything possible.

Alexandre de Goussencourt, CIO of Stanley & Stella

When it comes down to it, Stanley & Stella use Azure and Dynamics NAV to take care of their supply chain, as well as their current and future customers. They have also centralized their workflow, making it easier to collaborate across the company. “We started by simplifying everything. We used to work with a lot of different systems that were cumbersome and time consuming. Now that everything is on the same platform, we can easily log on to the system, and create new accounts in less than 5 min. That wasn’t possible before,” explains Alexandre.

As they started moving away from their old platforms, computers were replaced with Surface tablets, and all their data was moved to Azure. “With the help of our partner ESC, we quickly got our processes up and running on the cloud,” explains Alexandre. Security has also improved, and now the Stanley & Stella team, can “basically work from anywhere”.

A promising data-driven future

With stores about to launch in both Antwerp, Paris and Berlin, the future looks bright for the Belgian SMB. Determined to bring a radically new perspective to the fashion retailing world, nothing seems too big a challenge for Stanley & Stella. With physical stores in various cities, the company will be able to take their data to the next level and start connecting even more closely with their community, through personalized offerings and premium tailor-made interactive services. “We want to improve the overall customer experience. Our clients are more than just numbers, and we want to tailor-make our offerings to their needs,” explains Julien.

Whatever the future may have in store for Stanley & Stella, big chances are it will be a game-changer for the industry. The wheels are definitely turning for the Belgian company, and it’s all going at the right speed. Keep an eye on their sustainable adventure here: