In the age of “the sharing economy”, many have grown accustomed to the concept of resource sharing, as seen through the growing popularity of crowdfunding and services like Uber, Airbnb and Couchsurfing. More and more, shoppers are starting to agree that “access is the new ownership”, accelerated in part by the rapid depletion of Earth’s natural resources and rampant waste generation on an uncontainable scale. According to figures provided by fashion sustainability organisation, Connected Threads Asia, last year alone, Singapore generated 150,000 tonnes of garment and leather waste. That’s the equivalent of approximately 100 t-shirts per person. Rather than contribute to the constant cycle of consumption and waste, there are many ways consumers can embrace the sharing economy while staying in style.
The sharing economy thrives on the notion that ownership can sometimes prove extraneous, and even counter cost-effective. It enables owners to monetise their unloved assets, so instead of paying for something and discarding it before it has reached the end of its term or letting it wither away in a state of neglect, owners can obtain some value from their purchase by swapping or renting or reselling. After all, why pay $500 for a dress you’ll only wear once or twice when you can rent it for one-time use at a fraction of the price? It makes as much sense to hoard unused clothes and accessories when you could very easily turn them into cash or swap them for something you’d actually wear.
Current technology provides the supporting architecture for such marketplace interactions, allowing users and owners to buy, sell, rent and trade with ease. But while consumers are increasingly open to renting a locally owned resort villa in Bali via Airbnb or booking an Uber drive on any ordinary day, the pick-up has been significantly slower in the fashion sector. Sure, transacting with clothing can be tricky, especially with sizing and fit concerns but there is a sizeable crowd of fashion startups and businesses that are making closet-sharing a viable option.
Fashion rental services
Fashion rental services address a couple of snags for shoppers who are trend-conscious yet don’t want to rack up a huge fashion bill on expensive designer fashion. Many have taken to borrowing items from Rent A Dress and Style Lease — fashion rental businesses that lease designer pieces on a pay per use basis. For instance, Singapore-based Rent A Dress offers access to a constantly updated inventory of on-trend designer pieces from the likes of Diane Von Furstenberg, Herve Leger, Three Floor, Monique Lhuillier and many more. Majority of them, including Style Lease provide value-added services along with rental, adding private fitting sessions and professional style advice to their suite of services. Dry cleaning and maintenance is all taken care of, allowing customers a pleasant and hassle-free experience. Mums-to-be reluctant to invest in maternity wear may like to consider Maternity Exchange, a maternity wear boutique that offers the option of renting or purchasing. Given the short-term nature of demand for maternity wear, it’s a natural fit for the rental market.
In case some of us don’t want to put a full stop on buying itself, buying secondhand is the next best option. Peer to peer marketplaces such as Ebay and Carousell make it easy for owners to sell their preloved items to eager and willing buyers, but dishonest dealers, counterfeit goods and fraud are not regulated and could still marr the experience. In comparison, secondhand luxury retailers such as StyleTribute and Poshmark are safer bets. As part of their user guarantee, all items listed on StyleTribute have been inspected and authenticated before being put up for sale, and it even offers 7-day free returns should you not be satisfied with your purchase. Want to sell your stuff but want to spare yourself the effort of crafting the perfect listing? StyleTribute’s White Glove Service takes care of everything — they’ll pick up the clothes (free with 10 items or more), create the listing and pay you a 70 to 75 percent commission once it sells.
Swapping is the new shopping
Stuck with a spilling wardrobe? Are your years’ worth of accumulated clothing starting to get in your way? Swapping could just be your answer. Swapping events are a great way to declutter and revitalise your wardrobe and brings back the joy of raiding your best friend or sister’s closet. Cast off any thoughts of a crusty jumble sale, modern day swap parties are as fun as they sound and we’ve got one coming your way. Singapore-based fashion sustainability organisation Connected Threads Asia will be hosting their annual clothes swap on September 18. For many, it’s a chance to go footloose with fashion while engaging in ethical and sustainability issues. Last year’s clothes swap saw over 100 participants of all ages and walks of life, and close to 800 garments being swapped. Through this fun activity, swappers hopefully will spare more thought for the items in their wardrobes and their garment consumption patterns before endorsing a throwaway culture. Scroll to the bottom for more details on the upcoming clothes swap.
When: Sunday, Sep 18, 2016 | 3 – 7pm
Where: Chijmes, 30 Victoria Street, Singapore 187996
Organised by Connected Threads Asia, participants are invited, a month in advance, to hand in their gently-worn clothes (no tears, stains or loose attachments) to the organiser at designated locations in exchange for a voucher. With this voucher, participants can swap for the same number of items on the day of the swap.
i) Connect with your clothes
This time around participants will tag their items with the stories about the clothes, as well as photograph them and upload to social media. These stories will help us understand the fashion choices we make and the connections we have with our clothes.
ii) Reconnect Through Repair & Alterations
Participants will be able to learn how to repair their clothes at the Repair Kopitiam booth, be it a torn shirt, worn out jeans or misaligned zipper. If any of their swapped clothes need slight adjustments, we will also have people on hand to make the minor alterations.