Rent, reuse, repair, buy, try or subscribe with Houdini Circle

The Swedish outdoor brand launches a revolutionary retail concept to challenge conventions and change consumption for good.

The Swedish outdoor apparel brand Houdini Sportswear has been a pioneer of sustainable innovation since 1993. Boasting an 85% circular collection for FW23 and pioneering circular business services including rental and second-hand sales for more than a decade, the brand is now taking an unprecedented next step in reimagining business models. Their new retail concept Houdini Circle has now opened its doors on September 28th in Stockholm, providing a seamless and user-centric way of merging all the brand’s existing business into one. Users can buy, rent or subscribe to everything from new to second-hand garments, including well-worn repaired garments and exclusive remake pieces.

Houdini has a long history of encouraging their community to do more with less. Their initiative Live Large With Less, where the brand encourages its customers to live their best lives with only a 10-piece wardrobe, has created ripples far beyond their own circles. Challenging traditional consumption patterns, Houdini Circle continues to put the user experience central, and with that, offers a more sustainable alternative to the linear business models that still prevail when it comes to consumer goods.

Must combine sustainable business models

Instead of the brand categorizing the garments in rental, reuse or new collections, it’s the user that can choose to access the product in a way that suits them. CEO Eva Karlsson explains:

“After more than a decade of experience of circular business models and partaking in scientific research of these initiatives, we can conclude that sustainability can be achieved only through a seamless combination of business models, adaptive to individual needs.”

Giving their users options in how they access their garments makes sense from a sustainability perspective, but also empowers the customer, otherwise flooded with marketing messages urging them to buy the next big thing. Will you use it every day? Then buying the garment makes sense. Will you use it intensely for 1 week per year? Are you not sure whether it will work for what you have in mind? Then maybe renting the garment could be a better solution. Any garment in the store, opening its doors in the bustling heart of Stockholm this September, can be picked up and rented, bought new, or bought second hand. Naturally, their long-existing repair and recycling services are part of the program too.

Maximum value-creation for all

Houdini Circle accommodates to customers’ changing needs, and lives, while offering an inspiration to other businesses on customer care, profitability and planetary boundaries. The initiative requires a completely new take on pricing, cost and value. With support from Boston Consulting Group, the brand is working on a business system to support it and a new financial structure to price their garments fairly in all customer options, while also securing profitability.

“The point of Houdini Circle isn’t to make maximum profits, but maximum value-creation for all stakeholders. That is what our business is about. Sustainability and good business go hand in hand. This initiative is no exception,” says Eva Karlsson.

The goal with Houdini Circle is to make Houdini’s product more accessible to more people, in line with their values and ethical standards. Starting in Stockholm this fall, the company will trial the concept before hopefully expanding it to other markets. A radically different apparel industry is possible, and with Houdini Circle, the Swedish brand gets us one step closer to it.

“So far, most sustainability stories are focused on production, with brands still relying on one particular business model that is portrayed as the silver bullet enable change. If we want to truly transform our industry, we need to start offering seriously better alternatives to what’s out there, and make sure these alternatives are accessible to more people.” Eva continues:

“We believe putting our user first is key to doing that. Houdini Circle is an initiative that allows us to offer better service to our users and offering a different way for companies to be profitable.”


Lead Photo: Houdini


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