First, let me be honest. It’s not really day 1. It’s more like day 402. But I prefer to keep things simple, so let’s just all agree to go from here. But where exactly is here? Let me explain…
For the past year I’ve been promising everyone that I’m going build a sustainable fashion business that will change the way people think about clothing, and this blog is my way of ensuring that I fulfil on that promise – or at least proof I tried. So, this is the (almost) start of my journey as an entrepreneur in the fashion industry.
If you’re wondering why I’ve chosen to build a sustainable fashion business, you shouldn’t. Let me give you a few of the headline statistics:
- Fashion produces more carbon emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
- 20% of global wastewater comes from textile production.
- More than three fifths of clothing ends up in incinerators or landfill within a year of being produced.
It’s that last one that really got me. Fashion is one of the most resource intensive industries on the planet, so for three fifths of those resources to be wasted within a year just seemed crazy to me. All that energy, all that time, all those emissions just so we can have a slight dopamine hit when we buy a badly made pair of jeans for £20?
The fact that fashion has managed to slip under the radar whilst other industries such as air travel have taken the majority of the flak for carbon emissions is testament to the size of the challenge that the industry faces right now. Large fashion brands have been reluctant to react to climate change. They seem all too keen to press forward with more of the lunacy that I described above. Yes, it may pay dividends right now, but in the long run it’s a sure path towards disaster.
Please allow me to stop there. It’s easy to rant about the state of the fashion industry. It’s finding a solution that’s hard. But before I share my solution with you, I want to make one thing clear. I’m not some die-hard eco-warrior who only eats foraged food and doesn’t use deodorant. No. I drive a diesel. I like steak (sorry vegans!) and sometimes I catch a plane to go on holiday. I’m just a normal guy. Making people feel guilty about their lifestyle isn’t how you tackle an issue like climate change. You tackle it by making people think about how they can change their lifestyle – and with fashion that starts with a viable alternative to the status quo.
So here it is: My ‘revolutionary’ business idea starts with two things; the subscription box and Spotify. The box is simple; subscribe and you will receive new clothes every month. The Spotify aspect is more complex. When you subscribe to Spotify you gain access to music, but you don’t own it. In the same way, when you subscribe to Stylecrate, you gain access to the clothes for a month, but you don’t own them. Instead, you have two options. You can either wear the clothes and send them back at the end of the month, or you can keep any or all of the clothes and send the box back empty or partly full and you will be charged upon receipt of the box by Stylecrate. Returned clothes are then redistributed amongst other subscribers to maximise the lifetime value of each garment. To make the business even more environmentally friendly, the clothes in question are sourced from sustainable manufactures who use 100% organic cotton and pay their workers a decent wage.
So that’s my solution to the fashion industry’s problems. It’s not perfect and it will be changed, but it will keep these 3 goals at its core:
- Educate people about the environmental and human cost of the global fashion industry.
- Make sustainable fashion mainstream.
- Champion sustainable brands and provide a platform for them to be discovered.
Stay tuned for fortnightly updates on my progress.