What to do with unwanted clothes is a conundrum I have been contemplating for some time now. Too precious to part with some of my higher-end pieces at a car boot sale, there are limited options available for secondhand wear in Jersey. But what if we were able to share our most prized possessions with others rather than sell them, breeding an altogether more sustainable approach to fashion addiction? Could Jersey catch on to the clothes-sharing craze that is set to sweep the UK this year?
Forbes have hailed 2019 as the year when clothes-sharing platforms will finally take off in a big way. The future of fashion is in digital based communities that allow you to beg, borrow and buy clothes from those whose style you covet the most. A subject very close to my heart, I wondered how I would feel about sharing my clothes with complete strangers? Could I bear to part with my favourite finds or is the true beauty of clothes that they are made to be worn and enjoyed?
The rise of clothes-sharing networks follows in the footsteps of companies like Uber and Airbnb which have enjoyed enormous success. Founded on the premise that Generation Y is very attuned to living sustainably, preferring the experience over the ownership in every circumstance. Twenty years ago we wouldn't have dreamed of sharing our home or our car, but these are now common accepted practices. They have taught us to value access over ownership, which could make the dream of a designer wardrobe much more attainable.
While clothes renting sites aren't necessarily new (GirlMeetsDress has been around in the UK for a while now), the concept didn’t really take off until last year when WearTheWalk and FrontRow also stepped up to the plate following the runaway success of US sites. Second hand and pre-loved clothes has become big business, with eBay growing from strength to strength and Jersey now home to two pre-loved designer stores in Glad Rags and Tresor.
The app Depop has built a cult following, where you follow sellers based on their style to purchase items, not too dissimilar to the format of Instagram. I also often stumble across bloggers on Instagram now setting up separate pages for selling their cast-offs, which works precisely because you buy into the influencer and not just the clothes.
The problem with selling quality secondhand wear from Jersey has always been the cost of shipping, meaning that the solution for unwanted clothing lies in being able to recycle in Jersey and not through these giant platforms. But perhaps this new phenomenon and their growing success can encourage more of us to embrace pre-loved stores, to engage with the idea of sharing and of hiring clothes rather than a constant stream of buying.
Maybe we may even see a social clothes-sharing site take the place of Facebook groups and Jersey Insight, where I am constantly haggled down to the price of a pound over the sale of any designer dress. I think I could be happy to let people borrow my clothes if there were rules applied and care taken. Fashion is there to be enjoyed, adored and fawned over, not to sit in a closet collecting dust. But only time will tell if as an Island we can adjust our attitude towards wearing others clothes and see past the status symbol that is often assumed when you buy designer labels. Could you walk down King Street and see someone wearing your dress and say, ‘do you know what, she totally wears that better than me?’