Rent and rent out clothes
Benedicte Brinchmann Eie from Oslo is going to eat dinner with girlfriends this weekend. An occasion when it feels good to be able to wear a stylish new outfit. A new jumpsuit, perhaps? Instead of going to a store to buy a jumpsuit, she's found one online. That can be hers. But only for a week or a month. At new clothes sharing service Fjong, they offer everything from Norwegian label ByTimo, to exclusive high-end French fashion house Chanel. You can also gorge on shoes, jewelry and purses.
“Fjong is like having a best friend with a huge closet,” Eie says.
Right now, she’s trying on a jumpsuit with a flower pattern and plunging neckline from the American label Reformation. She looks a million dollars in it. But at Fjong, it costs just Nkr650 to borrow for a week. Eie also rents out her own clothes and shoes. When she rents out her own clothes, she gets 50 percent of what Fjong charges less cleaning costs.
“Clothes that for various reasons I don't wear that much, now ‘work’ for me. I just about break even.”
Environmentally harmful textiles
Naturally, it's great to be able to always go to parties in new, eye catching outfits and still have money in the bank. But, there's another advantage in borrowing and renting out instead of buying new: It's much more environment friendly.
For example, growing a popular fabric such as cotton, takes up 2.4 percent of valuable farmland around the planet. Similarly, 11 percent of the total global consumption of pesticides is used on cotton fields. According to doctoral research at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), 25 percent of insecticides used worldwide go on clothing-related crops. Many international studies indicate that many of these chemicals can be harmful to the health of workers. Organic cotton is also a significant source of emissions and can produce smaller harvests. Cotton production has increased from 6.5 million tonnes in 1950 to 26.3 million tonnes in 2008. Polyester is a petrochemical and non-renewable material (although it does have certain advantages). We could go on.
Which is why we ought to use clothes far longer when they are first manufactured and bought. But we're not very good at that. In Norway, we throw out an incredible 113,000 tonnes of clothes each year, according to a Norwegian National Institute for Consumer Research report.
“The best thing about Fjong is that far more people can get pleasure from the same dress, and we get more use out of the wonderful clothes that are manufactured.”
Even so, having a green conscience is not the deciding factor for her.
“What's so great is that it’s practical and simple. Fjong both delivers and collects clothes from my office, if I want. They clean and repair them. That’s great for me as I’m a bit lazy.”
Clothes sharing can be categorized as a sharing economy service. The sharing economy is a business model where providers of goods and services and consumers, can find each other, as a rule via apps on a smartphone or online. Sharing is not a new thing. People have always done it, but technology is now making it easier for us to connect those with something to offer with those who have a need. As the internet has grown, so has a sharing culture. According to an analysis “The Sharing Economy – Opportunities and Challenges”, people have shared software, raised money and developed services such as Wikipedia. Altogether, this industry has a turnover of between Nkr440 and 570 million, or 0.02 percent of GDP in Norway. These figures are far higher in the EU. The turnover in the EU was around €28,100 million in 2015. In other words, every Norwegian spent Nkr100 on sharing services and goods, while each EU citizen spent Nkr500. Consumers can save money in the new economy.
“When you have a garment hanging in the closet, you have frozen capital. If you allow other people to access your items, you can unfreeze this capital and maybe invest the money in a fund that delivers a higher return,” says Tor W. Andreassen, Professor of Service Innovation at the Norwegian School of Economics.
He says that it’s a shift in the way we think about resources.
“Older generations have been preoccupied with ownership, while young people today are more interested in having access to something rather than owning it.
Utilizing resources better can have financial potential.
“An EU study shows that you can increase gross domestic production in the EU by €570 billion via a better utilization of capital and assets.”
Subscription to work clothes
Via crowdfunding, Fjong recently gained 179 new shareholders. In Norway, even though only 30 percent of women own shares, 83 percent of these new shareholders in Fjong are women. With these new shareholders onboard, they have launched a new project: clothes subscriptions. It's a bit like streaming music. You pay a fixed charge, around Nkr700 – 800 per month and upwards, and get clothes delivered to your door in a case.
“As a subscription customer, you are able to have access to a set number of garments from Fjong per month. Most of the labels we have will be included, but the range offered to subscribers will be finer clothes for everyday and business,” says Marte Breigutu of Fjong.
When the clothes are to be returned, you put them in the case they came in and they are then collected.
Women in Stockholm will now have access to the extensive Fjong closet.
“We're on the lookout for premises and are planning to open in Stockholm as soon as we possibly can,” says Breigutu.
And it's also possible that you will be able to rent clothes in Copenhagen.
As far as sharing services go, they’ll simply multiply. There’s a demand for such services.
“People want to live a healthy lifestyle today and care about the survival of our planet. This is an innovation opening for the enterprise sector,” says Andreassen.
Published: July 3, 2018