I recently heard that one of the fastest growing businesses in the US is self-storage. What a perfect way to frame our modern day consumption pattern. People simply do not have enough room for all the stuff they buy. Good news for the storage guys, bad news for the planet.
Back in January 2015, me and my husband launched a new concept that could be a game changer to the entire clothing industry as we know it. Today’s clothing industry is out control. Fashion brands launch up to 12 new collections per year in a desperate attempt to stay constantly relevant for the consumer. And the result is a consumption scarier than the creepiest horror movie. Just look at these facts:
The clothing industry benefits from being fast, cheap and compromising on quality. We want to change that.
For ten years we ran our own kid’s wear company. In our company, we had a very ambitious product strategy, focusing on organic and recycled fibers, no harmful chemicals, considered packaging and fair worker’s rights. And to be honest, we felt like green superheroes right until that one day, when a survey on our Facebook wall told us that our clothes in average were used 5-7 times by our customers, simply, because kids grow, clothes do not. That day we realized that our contribution to the world was not the world’s most sustainable kid’s fashion brand but rather a giant pile of more than one million pieces of clothes. If a romper has only been used seven times before it’s too small and is put away in the attic, then what does it matter how sustainable the romper was produced?
The epiphany left us with a giant challenge: How to create not only a sustainable product, but also a sustainable way of using the product. One thing was crystal clear: The world desperately needed a new consumer model.
The solution is reusing. In our new kid’s wear world, we offer a circular business model where consumers subscribe to children’s wear, and have the clothes replaced when these become too small. The outgrown clothes are then returned to us and after a strict quality inspection and professional laundry, they are to be worn by a new child. What we aim for is to provide an attractive alternative to the meaningless throw-away society and establish a clothing consumption based on a business model that both the business, consumer and environment benefit from: The consumer gets access to very high, sustainable quality at a competitive price point through a convenient and time saving subscription model, the circulation of clothes provides a cash strong business model, and, as our LCA study recently showed us, our circular concept reduce the environmental footprint by up to 80% compared to traditional consumption.
In a circular concept like ours the people are the driving force. Without doing your part by taking care and returning the clothes it will only be linear. We have to depend on each other. That interconnection has the potential to build a strong and powerful community based on trust and responsibility. By closing the circle, sustainability changes from being an expensive or inconvenient add-on in people’s everyday lives to an integrated part of it. And this is where the movement begins.