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The Interview: The CEO of OMNES on creating sustainable fashion for all and revealing new launches...

Chloe Burney
06 March 2024

Jordan Razavi registered OMNES in 2017, later launching in 2021. His mission? To democratise sustainable fashion. Razavi exclusively told about new category launches on the horizon, as well as his plans for rapid brick-and-mortar expansion after a lucrative trial on Carnaby Street.

OMNES - which means 'for all' in Latin - first launched online after putting the pieces together to create a sustainable supply chain. The innovative business uses deadstock fabrics from UK mills as well as natural, recycled, recyclable materials to create classic and fashion-forward silhouettes for the eco-conscious everyday woman.

This year, the brand has very exciting launches from new categories and third-party sellers. Razavi told that it will finally be expanding into third-party retail, first with Selfridges as well as launching a bridesmaid's collection, swimwear and accessory lines. Not to mention hinting at exciting brand collaborations. He laughed, "You name it we're doing it this year".

Tell us about your start in fashion. It’s quite a jump from your degree in Political Science and Business.

I've always had a passion for fashion. When I was a student, I spent some time in New York and I loved the fashion there. A lot of my friends and family that I've been surrounded by my whole life have always been interested in fashion. So it felt like it was a natural progression for me.

That's why I've ended up where I am today with this idea that I wanted to change what was being done out there.

Can you pinpoint what sparked the idea for OMNES?

Seeing what was out there sparked the idea. It came to me in 2017 and I sat thinking about it for a while. this was at a period when we were at the height of fast fashion.  I'm not going to name names, but some brands were at every train station at every airport, you know, you would just see this, this branding these adverts, and I just thought that the number of fronts that some of this should be a brand that is a counter to this, they could do a better job that makes better quality garments that are accessible for all.

I thought there should be a brand that has a better messaging as well. At that time, there was a need for a brand to emerge that had better messaging and OMNES was born from that.

How do you create sustainable fashion at such an affordable price?

I suppose we started with this ideology as our DNA. For us, we have to make garments that are good quality, sustainable and just as importantly, affordable. I spent a long time researching to try and find the right suppliers.

A lot of people said, "I you had worked in the industry for a long time, you probably would have come into it thinking it can't be done". But there's an element of naivety coming into it and I thought to myself,  "Surely it can be done".

Of course, margins with our first collections were non-existent. Now, we've gradually grown, we've improved things. But, I let the ideology of what we were doing lead first and so, here we are.

How do you physically make the product cheap and accessible?

We have great suppliers who are willing to work with us as well as good suppliers who understand what we need.  If something has to give it's the margin. For example, we don't do sequins at Christmas even though we know we can make money from them, but we can't do it sustainably.

What's more, the way we design the product helps.  We use the same fabrics across multiple styles, we avoid trims in certain areas and we try and be as creative as we possibly can with the design process to keep costs low.

It's probably going to get easier because there are more sustainable fabrics out there. I remember going to Premiere Vision in Paris a few years ago and maybe 5% of the fabrics there were sustainable. Now, we go and 50% of the fabrics are sustainable.

One thing that I used to hear a lot from suppliers at trade shows in 2019/2020 is that businesses weren't buying sustainable fabrics. Hopefully, that's improved by now but it will get easier in time as the market moves that way.

Who is on your design team, do you have a big say in the creative side?

I do like to be involved in some capacity; however, I very much leave the design team to it.

As for the team, it started with one senior buyer and then it became two senior buyers then we got a designer and so on. We have a strong design team that understands who we are and what we're doing, which is coming out through the product.

In answer to your question on the creative side, no, I'm not designing new clothes. I like to be involved in what we're creating in terms of the brand and the product. But no, we have a strong design team.

Can you describe the brand in three words?

A fresh take.

Last year you collaborated with Naomie Harris, how did this come about? Do you have any more exciting upcoming collaborations you can tell us about?

The project with Naomie was so organic. We gifted Naomie and she reached out to us because she loved the brand and the concept. She even wanted to start a label that was an affordable, sustainable brand.

We asked her, "Would you like to design some clothes together?" and she agreed. We had a meeting and it snowballed from there. We were very fortunate in our first-ever collaboration to work with somebody who was so easy and so passionate about sustainability and the brand. It was a genuine collaboration. I cannot emphasise that enough.

We were spoilt with our first set of collaborations because it was so great,  but we're looking at several brand collaborations this year.

We're also trying to build our ambassador programme and we've got a few brand partnerships on the horizon as well this year. We plan to anchor collaborations with VIP personalities, but nothing has been confirmed yet.


You recently launched a pop-up on our doorstep in Carnaby Street! What was your experience like with brick-and-mortar retail? Will you be expanding your in-person presence?

I absolutely love it! In fact, in some ways, I prefer it to digital retail because there are no barriers between you and the customer.

I was there a lot at the beginning and I find it fascinating to see how people react to the product. You don't get that with digital. With digital, you get numbers, you get a heat map, but with a shop, you're all fighting to get customers in and to show the customer who you are. It has been such an eye-opener.

We hear stories that you hear you don't get being purely online. For example, I was told about a customer who was over from Australia. She came into the shop and bought a few of our Riviera dresses and loved them. She has been back three times this week to buy every colour. It's stories like that that make it all worthwhile.

Since the start, I've always felt that Carnaby Street should be the first place we ever opened - it feels like a great brand alignment. We recently decided to extend the pop-up for another three months, whilst we look for more permanent spaces. We're very actively looking to open multiple stores now.

How do you plan to democratise sustainable fashion on a larger scale? Do you think high-street brands could/ would be willing to adopt a similar model?

I think the industry is moving that way. Is it moving that way quickly enough? I'm not so sure.

Can other brands do it? We've seen that they can do it with certain capsule collections or certain product collections. In the end, will fashion brands use 100% sustainable fabrics? We can hope so. I believe it should do. Can they do it? They can. Are they doing it? Maybe not as urgently as they should do.

I think they see it as a big overhaul. But they probably could do it if they wanted to. Maybe I'm naive, but I think we are moving that way, at least I hope so.

You recently had a brand refresh, why is this and what should we be expecting?

After three years, you look at yourself and reevaluate. It's a polishing of the brand, let's say where we're just realigning who we are and we just want to represent ourselves as best we can.

The refresh reflects the serotonin hit that we want people to feel when shopping our brand, so we're excited by it.

You have some exciting projects on the horizon, such as Swimwear launching in May and Bridal launching in March. What can you tell us about this?

We're very excited about swimwear. If you're a brand that wants to be a positive influence out there, swimwear feels like a category we should expand into. It is made from post-consumer waste. primarily from the oceans, and discarded textiles.

We're also launching Bridal, which is something that happened naturally after we listened to our customer's wants and needs. OMNES has been popular for occasion wear and bridesmaid dresses since the start and people come to us for that naturally now.

Part of the sustainable model is that we don't want to create products that aren't sold because that creates waste. So we want to listen to what the customers want, which is what we did with bridal.

Both these collections are size inclusive, from sizes 6 to 24.

Anything else in the pipeline for OMNES that you can reveal?

We're looking to open four to five stores this year and we also have exciting wholesale partnerships on the horizon.

We're going to be selling through third-party channels, which is something we initially declined. I can tell you that our first is Selfridges. Online, our site has always seen strong traffic internationally, so we're looking at expanding globally this year as well, particularly in America and the Middle East.

You name it we're doing it this year.

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