At CLUSE, we care about how we produce and how our products reach our customers. And we realize that each product has an end-of-life date, therefore we must also care about what happens next.
How it’s made has always been a key part of our brand’s DNA. Before we started CLUSE, we were active in the watch industry as retailers. There were a lot of things we liked about the fashion watch industry, but there were also parts that we thought could be improved. Quality was the key word. And this is how we decided on the name for our brand. CLUSE is named after the town of Cluses in France, just over the border near Switzerland. Cluses used to be known for its watch making institute. We wanted to honor the craft of watch making by naming our watch brand after this renowned watchmaker’s town.
We believe that a qualitative watch should have the potential to last for generations. And once its ‘life’ is no longer sustainable, the product should be recycled as much as possible. When it comes to our packaging, we have a similar approach.
Here are some of the steps we have taken in our ongoing journey to produce responsibly.
When we started CLUSE, we selected our partners carefully. We met in person with the factory owners and made sure we saw the manufacturing and assembly lines. We ensure that our products comply with the international regulations for our industry. Independent third parties test our products both mechanically as well as chemically.
Our brand protection team is working continuously to stop potentially harmful, counterfeit products to reach the market.
CLUSE is an Amfori member. As such, we require our suppliers to comply with the BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) standards. We had to postpone our 2020 audits, but in 2021, provided the Covid-19 restrictions allow it, we will hold independent third party BSCI audits at our manufacturers.
OUR PRODUCT PACKAGING
In 2013, when we started CLUSE, bulky carton or plastic boxes were the standard for packaging in the watch industry. We believed in a different solution. We packed our products in a slim leatherette pouch. The thought behind the pouch was twofold. The environmental footprint of transporting a light weight, small sized pouch is smaller than that of a bulky box. Moreover, the pouch wasn’t intended to be a disposable byproduct and indeed proved to have more potential to stay relevant, for example as a ‘bag in bag’.
The collections that we have launched since 2020 are packed in an updated packaging: small, ecofriendly boxes. An increasing amount of our products are purchased for gifting. We therefore designed carton packaging, similar in size to our pouches and gifting friendly. The paper used is FSC and the printing is done in soy ink. The glossy finish on the packaging is a water-based varnish. The glue is non-toxic, non-corrosive, biodegradable, and water soluble. Within the carton box, the product is in a pouch (or on a cushion) in a velvet look, made of recycled polyester.
We limit the usage of plastics in our packaging as much as possible. Our products are packed in a thin layer of plastics to protect them from the elements. The plastics that are used are recyclable. In 2019, we set and reached our goal to decrease the number of plastic layers used for our product packaging by 33%.
It is our goal to further decrease the number of plastic layers used for the packaging of our products by at least 33% by the end of 2023.
OUR SHIPMENT PACKAGING
When we ship our products to our retailers and to end consumers, we use boxes made of recycled carton. We hardly use fill up materials, as we ship our products in made-to-measure shipping cartons, that perfectly fit our product packaging. This way we ensure that our products do not take up unnecessary space when transported. Furthermore, our slim packaging allows for delivery in letter boxes in several of the countries we ship to.
The first CLUSE collections had cases produced in brass. In 2016, we launched our first collection with stainless steel cases. After being able to compare feedback on both materials for some time, in 2018, we started to transition all our watch and jewellery collections to stainless steel. In the watch industry, stainless steel is considered qualitatively superior, more durable and a more sustainable material in comparison to brass. Moreover, it allows for more recycling options.
In addition to producing in stainless steel, in 2021 CLUSE launched a watch with a case made of another more sustainable material. We are very excited about this new step!
In 2019, we started our transition to Italian leathers for our watch straps. We started working with suppliers who are members of the Leather Working Group. The standards of the Leather Working Group ensure that our suppliers limit the environmental impact of the tanning process of our leather straps.
The vast majority of our straps are produced in stainless steel, which is considered the metal for fashion watch straps that allows for the best recycling options. In 2021, we launched a new collection with a strap made of another more sustainable material. We are very excited about this new step!
We are working with leading Japanese movement manufacturers, this ensures that our watches are able to run on time with a very high degree of accuracy. On top of that they are considered the most durable in their class. The manufacturers did not only optimize the power consumption which leads to further longevity, but also constructed the movements in such a way that repair/replacement of individual components is possible.
We continuously seek to improve the durability of our products, as we want to limit the defect rate as much as we can. Our standard guaranteed water resistance level for our watches is 3ATM, and an increasing number of our collection is water resistant up to 5ATM.
As with our products, our approach to logistics is pragmatic. We don’t like failed delivery attempts. It means another ride by the delivery van, and it means a longer wait for our customer. The delivery success rate is therefore a key element when we make our choice for a carrier. And where possible, we try to work with carriers who can safely deliver our products to our customers directly in the letter box or at a carrier drop off point.
We try to limit the amount of returns from our end consumers. From the start, we’ve done this by trying to avoid over-promising. This means that while our product looks beautiful in our pictures, we’re not overdoing the editing. We don’t like returns because the product didn’t look as nice in real life. Furthermore, we try to help customers as much as we can by clearly communicating our product specifications, such as the exact size of the product, which is key when ordering a watch, a jewellery piece or a new watch strap. In 2021, we introduced the ‘paperless return option’ for our customers in several markets, which enables the customer to return an item without having to print a return shipment label at home.
Our watches are sold by retailers worldwide. A customer of an official CLUSE retailer may return a product purchased at that retailer for service. In case of a warranty issue, we try to limit the number of watches returned by the retailer to us for service purposes. Instead, we opt as much as possible for local repair or exchange, allowing for higher service levels and avoiding back and forth transportation of our products.
We don’t throw away our defective CLUSE products. Returned products that are defective are, when repairing isn’t a realistic option, disposed and recycled as much as possible. For this process, we work with an accredited local partner.
For products with minor usage signs (such as unused returns or samples), we try to find other solutions. One of the most popular so far, has been our ‘office sample sale’, where we invite fans to the office to purchase products for a symbolic price. It is our policy to not destroy products that are unsold.
At times, we donate our products to causes we believe in. We prefer to connect directly with those we support. For example, during the Covid-19 lockdowns in France and the Netherlands, we showed our support to the staff of nursing homes, who were working unprotected at a time when the threats of the virus were still unclear. In 2021, we’re donating products to an organization that helps people make a great impression during a job interview.
When we first started our company, we worked out of our home offices. But once we hired our first staff member, we decided to transition into an office space in Amsterdam. Thus, CLUSE was born in 2013. This space functioned very well as our home until the Spring of 2018 when we simply needed more space to fit our growing team.
We then decided to move to the old harbor part of Amsterdam, into a newly built, more sustainable office building. The electricity we use in this building is “groene stroom” (electricity from 100% European wind energy). The building is equipped with high efficiency glass. The roof of the building has an insulation Rc value of 6,0 m²K/W. The lighting is 100% LED, divided into segments, and it switches on when there is motion and switches off automatically. The climate system runs on a heat pump.
We discourage the use of printers in our office. Documents that need to be signed, are as much as possible signed with a digital signature. Of course, waste is separated.
When there are leftovers from our catered lunch, we offer them for free to our colleagues to take home.
We encourage our colleagues to take the stairs instead of the elevator. We also try to stay fit by doing kickbox training on Thursday afternoons together.
In 2019, we decreased the footprint of our office space by downsizing our space by 25%. In 2021, it is our goal to further decrease the footprint of our office space. We intend to work from home more often structurally. Our office can be well reached by public transport and by bike. In 2021, we aim to decrease our office space, and the amount of parking spots, by at least 50% by the end of the year.