Do you remember how your life was before Uber, Airbnb, Linux, car sharing apps etc.? Hard, right? The sharing economy has had a real boost in the last couple of years and - according to 100% of trend surveys, the business model is here to stay; be aware!
The rising mindset of this approach (not being the owner, but the user) affects many layers of society (from personal relationships to legislation improvements) and, of course, the fashion market.
Now, an entire business model can be constructed around offering a product and a service that, at the same time, shake ownership concepts and reduces the environmental and social impact of the industry. This is one of the ideas behind the new rental initiatives.
In many places, bridal dresses and smoking suits are already on the rental system and, since 2008, is also a well known practice for fashion lovers inspired by Louise, Carrie Bradshaw’s assistant on the movie Sex and The City and a loyal customer of the Bag, Borrow and Steal website. But, the French Rentez-Vous.com, for example, is a peer-to-peer and designers fashion rental marketplace that allows customers to rent clothes and accessories to one another and rent designer creations for a fraction of the price. In 2014, the website won the “Sustainable City Award” for sustainable fashion in London.
Kleiderei, in Hamburg (Germany), and Lena, in Amsterdam (Netherlands), operate as fashion libraries. For registered members with a subscription, it is possible to change clothes every month. Even better: without your wardrobe piling up!!
Another way to support clothes rental businesses is through leasing systems for circular design, as the Dutch brand Mud Jeans and the Scandinavian Filippa K work. At the jeanswear brand, if you pay 7,50€/ month for one year (plus a 25€ sign-up fee), you can have a pair of dark blue jeans. At the end of this period, you can keep, switch or return them. Then, the jeans are repaired, upcycled and transformed into one-of-a-kind vintage pieces.
And here is the last business model I want to talk about: clothing swap. It is true that the exchange of objects between people is not at all newfangled: this kind of trade has been going on in markets all around the world for centuries – think about the beginning of flea markets... But, the practice has been breathed into cities like London and New York post the 2008 economic crisis, and has become somewhat hipster and an environmentally conscious good action.
It is through swap that the Swiss company I:CO is working with big labels, such as H&M, Calzedonia, Levi’s and The North Face, to collect and recycle textiles. Nowadays, recycling is the motto for fashion brands. It is not by chance that the rock star Iggy Pop, with his cool attitude and voice, advised on the last commercial for H&M: “There are no rules in fashion but one: recycle your clothes”.
So, if brands want to recycle, they need clothes and fabrics to be recycled, right? The system works like this: you bring your clothes (any brand, any size, any condition) to stores which have I:CO boxes and switch to a discount voucher (usually around 10% off) for your new shopping. On the other side, I:CO is taking all the pieces and selecting which ones could be sold second hand and which ones should be recycled.
Being able to offer an interesting and exciting service (aka business model) without blaming the status quo and allowing people to enjoy the beauty of fashion could be one of the keys to create awareness about overconsumption and the impact of this industry. Are you ready for the future?