Dorsu, a Cambodia-based ethical clothing brand, first felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in its supply chain. Assembled in-house from start to finish, the designs are crafted by recycling discarded fabric fragments from mass-manufactures in the conventional garment industry.
As large manufacturers began canceling orders, Dorsu’s production process was put into disarray. “Further cancellations lead to a flooding of the market. The day-to-day changes were unpredictable and impossible to track,” shares Co-Founder and Director Hanna Guy.
Travel restrictions and bans caused a second wave of ramifications. “We began to see a drop in tourism, impacting our in-country retail stores, and almost overnight we began receiving calls from distressed wholesale customers,” Guy recalls.
Guy and her co-founder, Kunthea Mov, acted quickly to close their Cambodia retail stores while keeping their production team operating.
She explains that “For many of our team it is actually safer to be at work, social distancing practices are obviously important however they pose a separate set of challenges for communities in countries where it may be less common to have access to running water at home or where large families are confined to small homes.”
The closing of three retail stores left Dorsu with an unusually high amount of inventory. As a result, the brand has turned to social media and its e-commerce platform to promote store-wide discounts. “Our online community has enjoyed the benefits of a significant sale that we’re running. It is not directly on-brand, we really prefer not to encourage sale/bargain chasing behaviour amongst consumers and try to encourage people to buy more consciously,” Guy clarifies.
The team is keeping their community informed by developing virtual partnerships and utilizing Instagram Live interviews to discuss topics from the Cambodian garment industry to the importance of asking “who made my clothes?”
“Zoom and our existing internal systems for coworking have allowed us to transition smoothly. Our management team is working between two cities and our customers are global, so we’re well-practiced. We’ve definitely increased our presence online and have seen a large increase in online sales, another system that was already in existence,” Guy says.
Across their digital platforms, Dorsu shares the message that “this is not business as usual.” To adapt to this new environment the brand is re-strategizing and pivoting offerings to include face masks in an effort to help fill the global supply gap and ensure that they keep their engine running.
“We want to use this period to bunker down and take the time to review what is working, what is not, and come out stronger.” Guy shares, “We’re currently reviewing our model, solidifying our entities and will consider a deep re-structure based on how we want to sell and how to build our community moving forward.”