Partners' talk - Jean Chabert, founder and CEO STANLEY/STELLA

Jean Chabert, CEO of the STANLEY/STELLA brand, recently visited us! STANLEY/STELLA is one of the leading brands in the field of sustainable textiles with which MERCHOU has been cooperating for more than a decade. Read the interview with Jean and watch the video to learn more about our mutual journey.


MERCHYOU Partners' talk are interviews with our partners, with whom we either cooperate for many years or are united by other common goals and interests. On the last day of May this year, Jean Chabert, CEO of the STANLEY/STELLA brand, visited us. With Jean we have a lot in common, so the visit was not short at all. We greatly appreciate that he found the time for an interview and a short video. He also visited our production facilities. The joint discussion was extremely warm and sincere, and we are very much looking forward to many more years of our collaboration!

Being more than a decade on the market, sustainability has become quite a popular trend, competition is probably stronger. What has changed in those years from your point of view and how do you respond to these changes as a brand? What makes STANLEY/STELLA unique and different from other sustainable brands?

Sustainability has been at the core of STANLEY/STELLA since its start in 2012; at that time, we were the only one in our sector to position sustainability as a key pillar of our company and of our development. Since then, a number of companies have raised interest into sustainability and more recently, all are communicating about it, but mostly this topic is on the agenda from a compliance and a marketing/communication point of view. At STANLEY/STELLA, we have continued to develop ourselves in considering the impacts on people and the environment as one of the most essential elements on top of quality and service to our customers. 

Beyond environmental sustainability, how does STANLEY/STELLA approach social responsibility, particularly in the communities where your products are manufactured? There is still some sort of stigma when a fabric is produced in Bangladesh. Can we say it does not matter anymore because of social responsibility and can you guarantee the environment in Bangladesh is safe and equal to working environments in the EU? 

Since our start, STANLEY/STELLA is an active member of Fair Wear Foundation and we are a Leader Member for the last 5 years. This not only shows our commitment but also our strong attention and implementation of good working conditions. Working conditions in the supply chain is one of the strong point of attention and on top of looking at it through the support of FWF, we also have developed our own audits, corrective action plans and collaboration with each of our suppliers factories thanks to a local presence in the countries of production and in the factories themselves. We know that producing in Bangladesh can be under scrutiny, but we have always chosen our suppliers with a close attention to the working conditions (through onboarding audits and local presence) and we are collaborating with them to always improve the working conditions for the workers. We also look at supporting the local communities through several initiatives that we have financed or continue to finance like grocery shops in the factories, water wells in villages close to the cotton farmers or mobile hospitals in Bangladesh where we supported more than 20,000 people in 2023. 

Do you plan to maybe venture more into material innovation? For example hemp is getting more popular these days. 

Several (new) materials are in the market and attractive for their lower impact on the environment; of course, we have a close attention to these materials; however, without the possibility to be competitive or scalable at production, we are careful to introduce them and we stick to our primary materials which are 100% organic cotton or recycled polyester for the outerwear.  

What emerging trends in sustainable fashion are you most excited about, and how is STANLEY/STELLA planning to incorporate them? 

Circular economy is definitely an area which is under development and which is also under the radar of the legislation but also the young generation of customers. We are already present with a range of products made with recycled cotton (made with our own fabric waste) and with recycled polyester. We will for sure continue to develop circular products and recycled products and we want to be also a leader in this range of products which is estimated to become between 20 and 30% of the total market by 2030. 

Speaking of sustainability and trends, there is a new legislation approved by the EU - an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation for textiles. What steps do you plan to pursue to comply with this new legislation and will this affect your customers? 

Our product range is already considering EPR through the responsible materials we use, the design of the products (focusing on mono-material) and the quality of the final products. In France where the first EPR legislation has been introduced (loi AGEC), our products sold by our direct partners/customers are rated at the highest level and can benefit from a rebate. We will of course continue to consider EPR in everything we do at product level. 

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in promoting and maintaining sustainability within the fashion industry, and what key learnings have you gained from these experiences? 

One of the challenge is to be able to make understand the customer how different we are in terms of sustainability. Today, all companies talk about sustainability, but they don’t apply always the same level of actions and genuine sustainability approach as we do and sometimes, they can be perceived as good as us in that area while we know it is not true. STANLEY/STELLA focuses mainly on actions, but we have also to communicate these actions more widely in order to incentivise the customers to make a more conscious choice based on the real attributes of the products and their real impacts on people and the environment. 

What are some of STANLEY/STELLA’s key goals for the next years in terms of sustainability and market expansion in Europe and worldwide? 

Sustainability is an ongoing journey and all topics already mentioned will continue to be developed by STANLEY/STELLA at all levels of the supply chain. As additional key areas, circularity (already mentioned) and wages are two topics which are coming more strongly to the top of our agenda. 


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