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How to regain operative control in fashion’s most unstable times

Karl Lagerfeld once said: “If you wear sweatpants, you’ve lost control over your life!” – ARYS’ fashion mission, however, started exactly on that quest: designing the perfect tracksuit. One that brings functionality and style to an everyday urban environment whether you commute to work, grab a coffee with friends or stroll through the city. Steering close to their genesis story, Fritz Sturm, founder and CEO of ARYS, has since transformed the company into something beyond the sweatpants: a tech-wear brand that impresses with timeless styles as quality clothing – designed today at the pulse of tomorrow.

But like their designs, ARYS found itself solving another urban dilemma in the face of the future; to regain operative control over product development teams in the fallout of a global pandemic. No matter how future-forward your brand identity might be, it isn’t a kevlar vest against challenges such as indefinite store and production floor closures, substantial delivery bottlenecks and physically separated teams. In a meta-twist of fate, ARYS not only took on the Anthropocene within their design development but also within operations as they internalized their whole development process, terminated their office space and started to trust in a newly found remote-work spirit. 

Survival 101: Stability & scalability

And just like that, their brand identity took on a whole new dimension – ARYS became the hero of their own survival story within the greater context of the human impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems, otherwise known as COVID-19. And they not only succeeded, but they emerged stronger and more connected than ever across their design, sourcing and development teams.

Up until last year, ARYS relied on an external contractor to manage the whole product development lifecycle. To regain process control and eliminate inefficiencies, the brand formed the ARYS Global Fashion GmbH in 2020, right at the peak of the Pandemic. The restructuring also meant that the design & development processes were internalized in a conscious attempt to create a deeper connection with better process overviews between designers, technicians and buyers. In the process, they soon realized there were additional hurdles to navigate: the inherited data storage of Dropbox and Excel sheets from their external contractor had started to buckle under the pressure of remote working.

Realizing that the adopted systems were not sustainable, Kay Heldsdörfer, Chief Product Officer at ARYS, pushed for new digital measures to provide further room for both stability and scalability: 

I said: this approach is simply not working anymore for us. When we want to grow further and continuously tie more suppliers to us, we need a dynamic system that ensures us full process control and an intuitive data baseline.

Boosting momentum with gradual digitalization 

With prior expertise within product lifecycle management, Kay was keen to adopt intuitive and efficient design & development processes that he knew a PLM would allow for. Framed by the extra strain that remote working added to the already chaotic aftermath of their process shift, he sought out a PLM fit for purpose – and found the perfect match in Delogue. A PLM platform that comes from the depths of product development; developed by industry experts with hands-on experience in the world of fashion. But ultimately, it was the ease of integration that played the decisive factor, as Kay explains: 

Most important for us was that we do not go for an isolated application, but instead implement a SaaS solution that can build the core for future scalability, one that can be fully integrated with our current core systems as well as those we may need in the future, whilst enabling a gradual digitalization of our processes.

With a smooth data interface between Delogue and ARYS’ current ERP- and warehousing systems already in place, everyone at ARYS can make informed decisions with all operative data readily on display – no matter where they are.

Finding a new home in the cloud(s)

Equipped with a strong backbone for product-related data, ARYS successfully managed the necessary shift of working from home so well that they terminated their office space and moved to complete remote working: 

We simply didn’t need an office anymore to stay connected. 

For ARYS, the central focal point for project alignment and cohesion shifted from being together in Berlin to being together in Delogue; every change of status, communication history and all development steps are now protocolled in one cloud-based system – accessible for everyone involved, anytime from anywhere.

With Delogue, managing our data became so much easier. All data is stored in one place now and I can access it no matter where I am. Delogue has lived up to everything we ever wished for.

What remains of ARYS’ bricks and mortar is a small but cozy co-working space in Potsdam and a physically dispersed, yet highly collaborative development team across the world. Designers can easily upload all their sketches and measurements, dragging-and-dropping styles from season to season; and buyers can arrange sourcing whilst coordinating with suppliers through the same platform. This newly found awareness about products and processes ensured full alignment and a strong team spirit in times where it was needed most.

READ MORE: Three Key Learnings for Fashion Brands during the Pandemic

Readily equipped for revolutionizing fashion standards

With a strong digital core and closely-tied designers and buyers, ARYS is ready to raise the bar for the fashion standards of today and those to be created for tomorrow. The brand will continue its fight against fast fashion, driven by a mission of delivering durable and timeless clothing of the highest quality and functionality. With the future is our legacy as a credo, Kay explains exactly why ARYS designs tech-wear styles that still can be worn with confidence in 5 to 10 years:

You really need to question what happened in the last years, with billions of clothes not even making it into the shelves and being burned and shredded. We do not want to further fuel the discount market. I rather tell our customers that a certain size or color is sold out, instead of overproducing and having to push them out through different channels.

Here’s to what the future holds in (demand-actuated) store for ARYS.