“The Hanger, Reinvented”
When it comes to being more sustainable, it’s often the littlest things that make a real difference, from using a proper water bottle to taking a tote bag with you to the supermarket. In the retail world, there’s one tiny but indispensable item that has long been ripe for a rethink: the humble hanger. Enter Dutch eco hanger brand Arch & Hook.
“It was 2015 and sustainability was a hot topic,” says Anne Bas, creative director, and co-founder along with CEO Sjoerd Fauser. “We thought, ‘Hangers are everywhere, why are they not being looked at?’ We found that of 40 billion plastic hangers [in the US], 30 billion end up in landfill every year. That’s horrendous.”
As they looked into it they realised that there was a real gap in the market among retailers looking for something that better fitted their values and store aesthetics. Since launching in 2016, Arch & Hook has already become profitable, selling more than a million hangers last year. It now has offices in London, Sydney and New York, in addition to its headquarters in Amsterdam.
The key to the company’s success lies in the attention that Fauser and Bas have paid to the design of the hangers. Their original wooden hanger was the first ever to be certified 100 percent FSC ®, meaning all wood comes from approved forests. And their Mission-E® plastic hanger – because wood was never going to be affordable or practicable for everyone – is at least 99 percent recycled and recyclable.
They’re also working on a third version made from another source of recycled plastic, which is under wraps until September. All of the hangers outlast ordinary versions, balancing the extra cost involved in buying them, they say. Chasing scale and sustainability, the company manufactures in Europe, China and Japan to reduce the carbon footprint of deliveries.
Crucially for retailers, the hangers look
and feel good. “The hanger is the only piece of furniture that a customer
touches before making a purchase decision,” says Bas. “So it must be a very
beautiful thing in the shop.”
As a result, clients
include Harrods, Ralph Lauren, Century 21 department stores and some hotels in
the Andaz Hyatt Group, as well as mass-market chains such as Accessorize.
“There are people in buying departments who are constantly asking us for
hangers at the last minute,” says Fauser, who has a background in retail. “I
think of hangers as the lost child: it’s a product you can’t do without in a
retail environment but it’s not top of people’s minds – yet.”
Photography, Dustin Thierry Kort