Sustainability remains one of fashion’s toughest nuts to crack, regardless of the impetus of both industry and the public to curb colossal levels of consumption. With eco-conscious initiatives often perceived as too worthy and/or too much hassle, breaking bad shopping habits seems exceptionally hard to do. Next month, new retail app Save Your Wardrobe (SYW) will launch in beta with a concept conceived to tackle the fashion gorge via the somewhat sexier, streamlining-honed lens of personal lifestyle management .
Ever since Japanese ‘organizing consultant’ Marie Kondo’s consistently best-selling 2011 opus The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up de-cluttering has become an international obsession, part of a pseudo-spiritual quest for more meaningful living. And with good reason; according to the UK arm of US weight loss business Weight Watchers there is currently at least £10.5bn of unworn items in Britain’s wardrobes. While part of that figure comes from too-wishful thinking (the extra pounds never shifted, the clothes that never fit) there’s also the more significant story of too much stuff presenting a simple lack of visibility, clouding our judgement regarding what we need or want to buy next. The result is a vastly unsatisfying cycle of irrelevant things and increasingly flabby shopper-brand relationships.
Reclaiming the peace of mind that comes with neither wasting precious resources or your own cold hard cash is what London-based Save Your Wardrobe Co-Founder Hasna Kourda, an economics and corporate strategy graduate and a former luxury fashion sales assistant, is banking on: “When I worked in retail I saw a massive loss of trust between consumers and brands because people constantly felt they were being given the hard sell, not serviced according to what they really wanted or needed. Part of the aim of this concept, which fundamentally remedies the fact most people don’t even know what’s in their own wardrobe, is to re-build loyalty and create relevancy, which will raise sales figures if not numbers of ‘things’ sold.”
The app, which is free to users (brands will pay for the data/insights it delivers) is rooted in the building of an entire virtual wardrobe. This happens in two ways to encompass both new and existing items. Firstly, using advanced computer vision tech users can photograph their existing clothing which the system will then categorize, in most cases even establishing the brand. Secondly, users can allow (ostensibly via Google GOOGL +0.21% permissions) their digital receipts to be automatically read. Assuming the brand in question is affiliated to SYW via an AP the system will recognize the SKU, allowing it to register every detail including size, color, and date of purchase. A 30-day cooling period will adjust the data should items be returned.
In order to avoid the system becoming nothing more than a backwards-looking personal fashion filter bubble -rendering it much harder to offer suggestions or predict new influences – SYW is currently working with vast fashion shopping network ShopStyle’s database of brands so users can also browse a vast number of brands to create product wish-lists. Later, it will also tap into users’ social media activity to flesh out their profiles still further.
The system will also be connected to users’ calendars, so it knows, for example, when they’re due to go on holiday, and to where, or when they have a job interview coming up and will send them product recommendations. Users have a dashboard showing both their curated selections of clothing for various occasions (“playlists of outfits”) as well as their full digitized wardrobe, generating an enormous sense of control.