Our website uses cookies

Cookies enable us to provide the best experience possible and help us understand how visitors use our website. By browsing Essential Retail Magazine, you agree to our use of cookies.

Okay, I understand Learn more

How The Cotton Story is disrupting luxury fashion

With retailers under pressure to become more sustainable – moving away from plastic packaging and fast fashion – there has never been a better time to be a sustainable brand. This is certainly the case for Chelsea-based fashion brand, The Cotton Story.

"Fashion is incredibly competitive – it’s one of the toughest markets to get into," says Leo Mellis, co-founder at The Cotton Story. The company sells 'luxury basics' both online and at its Kings Road store, without the price tag associated with organic and sustainable fashion. "Pricing is important as people are price-drive," he continues.

The ethos of the company is that luxury should be "defined by price rather than quality." Turning this on its head, it started working with a family-run factory in Portugal to create high-quality casual wear and using Supima cotton from California, US.

After launching online in June 2017 and opening a store in September, the shop has seen success mainly from high-street shoppers. This is during a time where many brands are shutting down their physical stores in favour of online. However, the company found that the online space was too busy: "You forget how vast it is," laughs Mellis. The company only shows a handful of stock on its website – mainly luxury t-shirts – and showcases new pieces in its store.

So how does the company keep its prices low?

Selling luxury pieces at 'fair' prices, The Cotton Story garments go "directly to the consumer". The company chooses not to work with department stores and retailers, avoiding surcharges of eight-times the original cost.

Its story started with two shirts for women and men and ended up creating new styles based on customer feedback. "This is the opposite to what the industry does," explains Mellis. He goes on to explain that in the fashion world, only "around 20-30% of a fashion collection is liked" with brands having "no idea if the outside world will like it." This creates overstocking and waste.

Its cool, minimalist store in Chelsea also offers a simple, yet unique customer experience. The co-founders invite people to write a 'thank you' card to the people that make their clothes, helping them have a better understanding of where and how their clothes are made, but also the wider impact of their purchase. It also doesn't keep a lot of stock in the store.

"I’d rather have a week where we’re out of stock than have a full stockroom," says Mellis. "I want us to react to demand rather than making clothes and hoping for it.

"I believe the 'death of the high street' is a myth," concludes Mellis. "I think it's more about the brand not keeping up with what consumers want."

What’s Hot on Essential Retail?