Do you know that feeling of excitement when you find something you have been searching for a long time? Well, that was the feeling when I stumbled upon OURVER.
OURVER (pronounced ‘our-ver’) is a British menswear brand, created to provide a purposeful and premium quality alternative to fast fashion, by slowing things down, shunning those fleeting fashion trends and offering a sustainable, affordable, year-round collection of permanent wardrobe staples.
Now, this is a mission I like to see! And staple wise you won’t be disappointed either! Creating lasting garments OURVER definitely helps you buy less but better! So you can imagine that I couldn’t stop myself reaching out to the Founder Paul Keetley to get to know him and OURVER a little bit better!
Paul, can you introduce us to OURVER and explain what triggered you to start OURVER?
OURVER (meaning Our Version) is a menswear brand focused on creating purposeful essentials as an alternative to fast fashion. The name stands as a reminder that this is our version of how things should be done.
I’d had the idea for OURVER since around 2012, having designed for several luxury brands, I had started to fall out of favour with the luxury fashion business model of constant seasonal change with little regard for the environment or the sustainability of the products, but also the affordability. It just took another 4 years for me to finally push the button!
How would you describe the core of OURVER aesthetics?
A minimalist approach to simple, well-made products. We don’t add things to garments for the sake of looking good. If it doesn’t have a function, it doesn’t need to be there. Instead, we take those classic wardrobe staples and make them relevant for a conscious-minded customer.
OURVER has a strong focus on creating timeless pieces that are ethical, sustainable and affordable, what is the big driver behind this philosophy?
We are all becoming ever more aware of the toll that the products we buy have on the planet. But not everyone is willing to make a change, partly because of the perceived higher costs. We promote the idea of thoughtful consumption and believe that making clothes to last is the foundation for minimizing our environmental impact, and if we can make them sustainably, then that has to be a bonus.
What do you find the most challenging while creating garments that need to be ethically, sustainable and affordable?The most challenging aspect would be finding the right manufacturer for a specific item. Ensuring that their standards meet ours and that the final product is of high quality, whilst keeping the cost acceptable for all involved in the process.
If you had to choose, always direct to consumer or partnership with retailers?
Direct to consumer is a business model that definitely benefits both us as a business and also the end consumer. But I also see the huge benefits to wholesaling to retailers. I’ve found direct to consumer to be a slower process in terms of getting our products out there, especially when you don’t have a huge marketing budget. I see wholesale as a way of marketing, as it allows consumers to see and try our products in their favourite stores without parting with any money upfront. So, I think they can both play their part. The challenge would be ensuring our values don’t become diluted.
What is the biggest inspiration behind your collection?
I’d say to just create really great products that easily rival that of the Luxury brands. The fact that they are also sustainable and ethically produced gives us extra bragging rights!
Who is the OURVER man?
He’s a guy that doesn’t need to shout about the clothes he’s wearing, values quality & craftsmanship, and is considerate about what he consumes and the impact that has.
How do you want your customers to feel when wearing OURVER?
That they are doing some good with the choice of clothing they’ve made.
What can we expect from OURVER in the future?
What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
People are a lot more informed today about the products they choose to buy. So, It’s very important that brands can convey their story.
How has Instagram impacted OURVER?
It’s been a great way for us to reach a wider audience and gain new customers, but It hasn’t hugely impacted us so far. As a business, it’s a lot harder to grow a big following organically. Instagram wants you to be spending on sponsored ads so unless you’re doing that, their algorithms are to some degree restricting you from being seen. I’m not a huge fan of seeing sponsored ads on what we consider to be a creative platform, so we’ll only do it if we have something super exciting to shout about, like new products.
What is your point of view on Influencer marketing?
It’s an important part of modern-day marketing, although its one we have only just started to explore. We’re in this for the long-term so we are happy to take our time and find friends of the brand who are genuinely interested in it and the product, and not necessarily treating it purely as a business transaction.
What would be your number one Instagram tip as a brand?
Don’t chase followers for the sake of numbers, content, and credibility are key. It’s better to have a small engaged community that are interested and who might be potential customers.
And last but not least, If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning OURVER what would it be?
Be patient, this is going to take time. Also, don’t sweat the small stuff so much, I’m obsessed with details and it’s easy to get lost in the things that may be the end consumer isn’t even really noticing.