(Image credit: Pip Cree, words by Hanna Guy)
Many of our friends and community will be aware that we don’t want to participate in the conventional brands’ culture of holding excessive seasonal sales. Larger brands factor in moving inventory at low margins, often even at a loss, for a variety of reasons, enabling a consumer culture that deeply undervalues the garment and its true cost.
Strategising how to stand out from that norm is hard, real hard. There is an art to balancing value, pragmatic financial decisions and trying to retain a sense of inclusivity, all whilst maintaining an accessible price for our community. We have always proudly worked to stand out, focused on spreading the word that a garment’s “cost” should incorporate high quality, trans-seasonal versatility and classic (no fads!) design, leading to much more wear and bang for your buck.
Here comes the “but”...
We started 2020 with three retail stores, an online store and a significant list of wholesale stockists which resulted in us being equipped with thousands of garments ready for sale and then COVID-19 kicked us in the knees.
Inventory has become a global discussion, some stories are horrific where brands have cancelled orders with little concern of the impact on the garment workers at the end of their supply chain, while Gucci has announced it will go seasonless and is talking about systemic industry change. A little closer to home, the familiar voices of brands our size are shouting “every order counts, please!"
We quite literally can’t afford to sit on the stock we have for the months it would take to sell it. Our plans and projections have gone out the window, we’ve lost an entire income stream through having to close our retail stores and have returned to the drawing board on our entire business model. Planning takes time and our business needs cash, so the absolute bottom line is - incoming cash pays bills. Our bills are likely identical to every other small business; salaries, rent, utilities, insurance, tax. That’s what a stripped back small company looks like in survival mode - design and marketing budgets cut, possibilities for growth paused. It’s painful, it ages you.
As a values-driven company, it takes a minute to consolidate the “why” after literal survival. It becomes about building community, reaching previously unmet customers and having the opportunity to start a conversation with them, in hope that they will stick with us for the next chapter.
It’s also about our hearts. At the end of the day, if these beautiful pieces that have been crafted with care, intention and positivity are being worn, where people are being complimented in public or feeling cosier at home, it makes us feel better than having them sitting in our warehouse.
These are unprecedented times and we’re holding an unprecedented sale. The small brand voices ring true- every single sale counts.
We collaborate as an entire team, combining design and production priorities.
Our design and sourcing processes are inter-linked. Sometimes we design and then source fabrics we wish to produce in, and other times we discover fabric we love and can create accordingly, quickly.
Meticulously designed for everyday wear, focusing on quality above all else.
You inspire us - our #DorsuCrew! We love talking to you and learning about what you do, what you need, and how clothing fits into your life. Every day, we meet fellow travellers from around the globe, visiting us during their holidays in Kampot. They buy Dorsu for our quality; withstanding weeks or months of adventures. When they return home, they have their go-to essentials for work, weekends, and holidays.
We make our own rules and don't abide by trends, mass consumption or over-production. By investing our time and talent into thoughtful design, we create pieces that will be mainstays in your closet.
Our patterns are made in-house by our Co-Founder and Head of Production & Design, Kunthear. With years of experience and training, she opts for the traditional method of measuring and cutting paper to transform concepts into complete, graded patterns.
Every 8 weeks, we release new collections consisting of 3-4 thoughtfully designed, intentional pieces to be worn with one another and across collections. We use limited edition fabrics, meaning each collection is small-batch, sitting perfectly alongside our year-round Core Collection.
The first step in the cutting process is washing the fabric, to test shrinkage and colour fastness. Our cutting team cut paper patterns from the originals, laying them on the material in a way that minimises wastage. Cutting up to 25 layers at a time, we bundle each piece according to size.
The cut and bundled pieces are then moved into the production room and delegated along the production line. It’s fast and straightforward, ensuring we create consistent end-products.
The sewn products are washed and individually measured against their specifications, checking they’re true-to-size.
The final step in production is ironing and the second check for shrinkage, warping, construction or fabric faults. The final garments are folded, packed and stored for sale. Some are moved directly into our studio store (located at the front of our production space), while others go to our flagship store in Kampot, or sent to Australia for international retail.
All production staff undergo extensive training and skills development to ensure safe, efficient and quality work by all team members. We train all new staff on our internal Human Resources policy, including occupational health & safety procedures, fire safety and evacuation, and child protection. We update and renew training annually, with ongoing instruction on equipment safety and maintenance, as well as the protocols to assess risk and responsibly address incidents in the workplace.
Fair and safe employment is the responsibility of all companies, and we prioritise the physical and emotional well-being of our employees above everything else.
We have two storefronts in Kampot, Cambodia - our Old Market Flagship Store and our Road 33 Production Studio Store. All team members take part in regular training on our new ranges, inclusive of design concept, fabric, fit and styling.
Our Kampot based retail team manage the in-country delivery program, speaking directly with customers to facilitate the order and delivery process.
We ship all online orders from our distribution space in Tasmania, Australia. Our online customer service team work against Australian EST, providing consistent and quality support to our international customers.
We welcome your feedback and are open to answering any questions you may have about sizing, construction, fabric, or our production practices.
We ship all bulk orders from our Road 33 Production Studio in Kampot, Cambodia. Most of the time, these are made-to-order. As a result of having a close-knit team, we can offer a seamless buying experience. Our sales staff speak to our Production Manager, face-to-face so that you can have the most accurate updates on the status of your order.
Our fabric is remnant cotton jersey sourced from independent suppliers in Phnom Penh.
Remnant fabric (also known as "deadstock" or "surplus") is unused and unwanted leftover rolls of cloth in its original condition.
As a result of Cambodia’s pervasive garment manufacturing industry and issues that occur along the fashion industry’s incredibly complex supply chain, vast amounts of fabric are deemed unusable by brands on a daily basis. This waste arises due to reasons such as incorrect or oversupply of cloth, last minute changes in production schedules and the ever-increasing need for brands to be immediately responsive and adaptive to fashion trends.
These fabric leftovers are sold on from brands and factories to a local fabric supply industry, who then sell on through the Cambodian supply chain. We scour the warehouses of our preferred suppliers and purchase rolls of fabric per kilogram. When sourcing for our collections, we buy up to 100 kilograms of a collection colour (like burgundy) and up to 300 kilograms of a core colour (like black and navy).
Due to the nature of sourcing factory remnants, we can't guarantee consistency in the fabric blends. Consequently, we burn-test every fabric we buy to ensure it has very little or no synthetic fibres.
We pre-wash a sample of every new fabric, testing for colour fastness and shrinkage.
We know that using factory remnants has limitations. We know we can’t trace the true origins of our material. But, we are doing what we can, within the context in which we work. Cambodia doesn't have cotton mills or weaving facilities so, we are limited by access. As a small brand, we experience financial barriers of meeting minimum order quantities of suppliers outside of Cambodia and then importing fabric into the country. We are acutely aware of our impact on the local economy, and we choose to place our money where it has the most significant impact.
All Dorsu team members are required to read, understand, sign and abide by our internal human resource policy that is inclusive of: