Collaborative Consumption In Fashion – A Path Towards Sustainable Fashion

Rueen Amiriara
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Can collaborative consumption in fashion solve the fashion waste problem?

The fast fashion strategy has manipulated consumers onto putting quantity over quality.

You might say that by buying fast fashion products you are saving money, due to their cheap prices.

But in fact, market research shows fashion buyers tend to spend much more often to keep up with fast-changing trends caused by the fast fashion strategy.

This phenomenon has caused massive environmental, social, and economic mishaps.

Collaborative Consumption In Fashion - A Path Towards Sustainable Fashion - What Needs To Be Changed - a land with a pile of disposed textile and wastes

Recent reports suggest that the amount of disposed textiles is fast-increasing across the world.

Hence, there is an urgent need for new strategies to reduce both, used and unused textile and fabric waste.

How Could We Solve The Fashion Waste Problem?

The reduction of disposed textiles has become one of the greatest environmental challenges as well as an economic opportunity within the fashion industry.

But to tackle the fashion waste problem, we need to have a closer look at the production cycle.

Product Life-cycle

Source: Payne (2011)

Most environmental waste is produced in the post-purchase stages, namely maintenance and disposal. 

Although material innovation, such as mushroom leather and Nullarbor rayon could provide a plausible solution in the long term, we have to find a way to reduce textile waste urgently.

And collaborative consumption in fashion is one of those ways.

What Is Collaborative Consumption?

Collaborative consumption in fashion happens when people choose to use a pre-owned garment rather than buying a new one, or when they make their clothes available for second-hand use.

The notion of collaborative consumption has created new opportunities in fashion such as:

  • Sharing;
  • Gifting;
  • Swapping;
  • Lending;
  • Leasing;
  • Renting;
  • And second-hand buying.

This way you can wear different garments without buying a new one.

Also, collaborative consumption helps with the issue of overconsumption in fashion.

The Market For Collaborative Consumption

Built on this notion, a growing number of startups have started to provide online marketplaces.

One successful example is Mercari, a startup that has launched a smartphone app available in both, the App Store and Google Play.

Mercari app allows its users to buy and sell unwanted fashion items in a simple, quick and secure way.

The app has positioned Mercari as Japan’s first mobile collaborative marketplace with more than 60 million downloads in Japan and the US.

More than that, Mercari is expanding its services to Europe and the UK.

Collaborative Consumption In Fashion - A Path Towards Sustainable Fashion - Definition And Examples - Mercari smartphone app showing a dress, a camera, a red pot, a pair of boot, baby shoes, a hoodie, a hand bag and two Russian dolls

Vinted, Thredup, Poshmark, Etsy, and Refashioner are just a few successful contributors to this new movement, showing that collaborative fashion markets are developing fast.

Now it’s your turn

What is your take?

Is this the way forward to create a sustainable fashion industry?

Would love to your thoughts below!

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