As fashion-hungry consumers worldwide buy more clothes, the growing market for cheap items is taking a huge toll on the environment. The fashion industry produces ten percent of the world’s carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply. A staggering £140 million worth of clothes goes into landfill each year. When it comes to reducing environmental impact, individually we can all adapt our own habits and make an effort to reduce our clothing waste.
MeWe Fashion is a student-led initiative and sustainable fashion brand based on renting and lending clothes. If you’re a lender, you send pictures of the items you want to lend. The items are then put on Instagram for renters to browse and borrow. Renters pay for clothing items on weekly loans.
Eliza England, a student at the University of Bristol, came up with the idea for MeWe Fashion in summer 2019. Having always been interested in fashion, but put off pursuing a career in an industry with ethical and environmental corruptions, Eliza sought to make her own positive mark in the industry. She studies Psychology with Innovation, and the course has helped her to develop the entrepreneurial skills needed to create a business idea from a problem-solving perspective.
Eliza explained how she took this approach for MeWe. She identified the problem: “How can I be part of the fashion industry without contributing to the destruction to our planet and disregard of ethics?” She settled on a platform which would aim to increase the life cycle of clothes through lending and renting them. This means anything in your wardrobe, be it fast fashion or not, no longer has to be such a waste. Customers make money from the clothes they rarely wear and get items, such as dresses, for a low price.
If we can use our clothes to their maximum, we will help to slow down fast-fashion.
MeWe Fashion’s three core aims:
- Slow down fast fashion in order to reduce harm to the environment.
- Supply clothes, particularly dresses which would usually just be worn once, to students for a low price. This is beneficial for renters who want to keep their wardrobe fresh and ever-changing.
- Help students make money from the clothes in their wardrobe that they rarely wear but don’t have to sell.
MeWe Fashion is primarily Bristol based, but it is quickly expanding further afield. In May, Eve Lawson-Statham joined the team to help open up in Edinburgh. The girls promote finding items within walking distance, encouraging customers to walk and drop off items. However, if customers are further afield, items can be posted – MeWe Fashion really is accessible to everyone! When items are posted, customers are encouraged to reduce or reuse the packaging to cut back on waste.
MeWe have a deposit scheme in place to protect customers but the process of lending and renting requires a certain amount of trust. The first year of MeWe has been successful, but this year the team are hoping to grow a lot more with an expanding customer base. They’re also keen to expand their range of sizes and items of clothing; this will come with more participation of lenders and renters. The sustainable fashion community is really firing up at the moment and Eliza has enjoyed attending events and talks over the past year. Getting to meet like-minded people and share a similar vision of sustainable fashion has really helped to make a change.
The brand is taking another innovative venture; contributing to the growing market of production of reusable cotton pads. Made from scrap material, they offer a reusable alternative to throw away cotton pads. Cotton wool is a staple household item for many, yet we don’t take into account the sheer number of fluffy disks we use. Three or four rounds of cotton wool a day can add up to 18 packets a year, all of which is non-compostable waste. Make sure to check out MeWe Fashion’s Instagram page for giveaways of carefully selected items.
To finish my insightful interview with MeWe Fashion, I asked Eliza what her top 3 tips are for shopping sustainably. Check them out below.
- Look around on Instagram, there are so many amazing brands and also pages which give tips and tricks. My favourites include @ecoage @tamayandme @reducewastenow
- If in doubt – charity shops. But only buy it if you 100% love it.
- Finally, don’t beat yourself up if you slip up. I think it’s really easy to put yourself under a lot of pressure to be eco-friendly and sustainable. It’s about effort and just doing what you can. And if everyone did that, we would make a huge difference.