Index is a new basics brand whose entire philosophy is built around aiming high. The three co-founders – Laszlo Ronzino, Ivo Semenitsch, and Michael Garrett – compare their brand (loosely) to Stone Island, in the sense that both brands are always trying to innovate and push the boundaries of tech in fashion.
The answer to what makes Index different from the countless other brands that promise to “elevate your basics,” is multi-faceted. Index, as the name suggests, features a guide on its website that dives into near-overwhelming detail as to the source of the materials, the manufacturing, and the dyeing processes. Quality and transparency are two of the most important hallmarks of the brand.
But what makes Index truly different from other basics brands, is that it is a factory-to-consumer brand, thanks to the co-founder’s connections to manufacturing facilities in Portugal. That means that Index products are sold directly from factories, without any wholesale or retail middlemen. This is possible, because Ronzino, Semenitsch, and Garrett also work for ROVO, of which Ronzino is the founder. ROVO is one of the go-to agencies for some of the biggest brands in the world, liaising with Portuguese manufacturers on the behalf of Balenciaga, Stüssy, and others.
“We're able to also benefit from real manufacturing prices, therefore we can work on a very high-quality level, but sell the garment at a very competitive price,” explains Ronzino.
Semenitsch adds that everything that goes into making Index clothing is sourced in Europe, a very conscious decision on their part. “We are vertically integrated into the supply chain in Portugal,” he says. “That means we can really dive into the different steps of production and can change things regarding sustainability, regarding price.”
Partly due to the brand’s close relationship with the factories, the team sees Index as a kind of constant experiment. The goal seems to be to create the best basics possible, using the best materials, and the best manufacturing processes, while causing the least amount of harm to the environment. Ultimately, Index wants to reinvent how people relate to their wardrobe of staples.
“Our collections are very much understood by us as a canvas to explore or present these ideas from factories that we've had experience with over the past 10 years,” explains Semenitsch, before revealing who the target audience for the brand is. “We’re looking for people that understand quality and look for a long-lasting product, that is simultaneously classic and innovative.”
Garrett explains further, saying: “The idea with the product is to introduce a certain base level of quality into people's wardrobes. Doing that through an essential garment like a T-shirt or a hoodie is a fascinating avenue to take because it's something that you're in contact with all the time.”
Each product on the Index website has an accompanying guide, which explains what types of dyes were used and how the garment was dyed. An index for Index. It’s the brand’s way of radically changing how to communicate with its consumers. Instead of talking about how cool a product looks, or the visual design, Index focuses on what matters to the team: quality, manufacturing, and technology.
“Explaining to the consumer why a product costs how much it costs, basically helping define the value of something, is very important to me,” says Semenitsch. “After the actual quality, it’s the most important to me.”
“We're in the position to be able to actually educate the consumer because we believe value comes from quality, and I think that the disconnect for most people is that brands aren't really communicating to them what those attributes of the product are,” adds Garrett. “We're very transparent in that way, and actually telling the story, while proving what the value is to the consumer.”
That transparency doesn’t just benefit the customer when it comes to judging the quality and value of an Index tee or hoodie. It lends itself very well to the brand’s attempt to be more environmentally conscious. That’s why Index includes the types of dyes and the exact dyeing process in its guide for every product, to give the consumer as much information on the impact of their purchase as possible.
“In the fashion industry, there are best practices for sustainability, and here a lot of people might see best practices as the maximum, or the ceiling of sustainability, we sort of look at it as a standard,” says Garrett. “For us, that's almost our floor and when we think about sustainability, we're looking for things to improve it along the way.”
Obviously, new product is never sustainable, which is why Index is not positioned as a sustainable brand. Instead, the approach to sustainability is that technological advancement and marginal improvements while adhering to the aforementioned self-imposed floor are what is important. Index doesn’t believe it will solve fashion’s sustainability problem on its own, but if more brands were to adopt the same approach, change could happen quicker.
Not only are consumers educated on exactly what goes into their products, Index challenges itself to give the consumer the longest-lasting product possible so that consumers ultimately need to buy less.
“We work with high-end manufacturers in Portugal, who are at the forefront of sustainability, not only Europe but also internationally,” says Ronzino. “I think where other people cooperate with brands, we collaborate with manufacturers and a technology firm, or biotech companies.”
The same attention to detail that goes into the quality of the products, the transparency of the brand, and the material innovations, also go into the product offering and collections themselves. Index offers a range of different T-shirts, hoodies, and sweaters, all of which come in different (limited) colorways and fits. The brand’s site has an incredibly robust guide for how each of its garments fit, so that the consumer is given more than enough information to make an informed decision ahead of their purchase.
As far as wardrobe staples go, Index is anything but basic. While it’s only at the beginning stages of its life right now, it’s clear that the team behind Index will constantly chip away and their products and brand until it’s everyone’s go-to basics brand.