Flemish designer brings custom-made trousers to the people

Summary

With his Kickstarter campaign to make affordable made-to-measure trousers, Ruben Opheide has become the first person in Flanders to successfully crowdfund a fashion project

Word-of-mouth effect

Ruben Opheide, the young Flemish fashion designer and entrepreneur behind the Ruben O label, has just raised more than €23,000 with his Kickstarter crowdfunding project to sell affordable, made-to-measure trousers.

A pair of bespoke trousers typically costs between €300 and €500. “It’s for the elite, and that’s fine, but I want to bring it to everyone,” Opheide says. With three styles, an approximate price of €150 and a client base ranging from CEOs to homemakers, Opheide is well on his way to achieving that goal.

Opheide has become the first person to successfully crowdfinance a fashion project in Belgium, thanks to the 135 people who backed him. “Using Kickstarter here was not easy,” Opheide says, referring to the online platform that allows people to donate money to help realise creative projects. “I not only had to explain what we do, but what Kickstarter is too.”

But Opheide (24) enjoyed being a pioneer and says word of mouth played a large role in the success of the campaign that he describes as “the birth of Ruben O”, adding that the website offered an excellent platform to fund, test and market his product. 

A whimsical side

At the age of 19, while still at college in Antwerp, Opheide opened his first online clothing store. Another e-store and a logistics company quickly followed, but he wanted more. “Everything I founded was in e-commerce, but I always had this whimsical side,” he says. “People knew I couldn’t be exactly who I wanted to be in the industry.” 

I get to combine my two biggest passions

- Ruben Opheide

After selling all three companies, Opheide ventured into fashion design, beginning with a line of golf clothing inspired by 1920s Britain, which eventually led to the Ruben O label. “I get to combine my two biggest passions,” he says. “Being an entrepreneur, and at the same time doing something artistic, expressing myself in the products that we bring.”

Opheide shares his office space in Antwerp with a furniture design company, so going there to be measured is a treat for those with an interest in interior design, although measurements can also be submitted online.

The next step will be the development of an online configurator that allows people to customise their trousers by adding buttons, zips and pockets, and choosing base layers, colours and contrast stitching. “It means we actually make a product that nobody else can,” Opheide says. This allows people who have a hard time finding clothes that fit and are usually limited to one or two brands to get trousers in any style they want. 

A new clientele

With his Ruben O trousers, Opheide hopes to address not just quality but also environmental concerns. He points out that centuries ago, made-to-measure clothing was the only clothing available. Mass production changed all that, and modern production methods are hugely wasteful. 

The way we buy clothes is extremely polluting

- Ruben Opheide

“Whatever is not sold is just burned; the way we buy clothes is extremely polluting,” he says. He wants to do things differently. “It’s all about giving people an affordable alternative, one that really makes people think it can be done differently.”

His vision is for the industry to come full circle and return to custom-made clothing that’s affordable, long-lasting and stylish. “We are just bringing a product that the master tailors here have been making for centuries to a new clientele,” he says. 

With his Kickstarter campaign to make affordable made-to-measure trousers, Ruben Opheide has become the first person in Flanders to successfully crowdfund a fashion project.

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