There seems to be a critical mass forming around the topic of sustainability in fashion here in New York, but one aspect that perhaps goes under reported in favour of coverage of design strategies is that of alternative business models that promote sustainability in fashion.
One of our favourite examples is the newly launched reFASHIONer. Started by journalist, and high-fashion aficionado Kate Sekules, it is a curated swap site for designers’ fashion, ranging from Comme des Garçons to Dries Van Noten. Allowing people to swap what tend to be long-lasting pieces in the first place, reFASHIONer allows them to extend their clothes' lifecycle and renew their wardrobe in a sustainable way.
Despite its high fashion bent, the site is quite unpretentious and user-friendly and also taps into our interest in fashion and memory as it allows people to tell the story of their clothes right before they part with them.
Below is a brief interview with reFASHIONer founder Kate Sekules.
I was wondering how and why you started reFASHIONer? I was editor-in-chief of Culture+Travel magazine when they folded it... Saw the writing on the wall--death of the magazine business. And I thought, I do like turnover in my closet, and I love the designers I love. And I'm lacking a paycheck for said designers, not to mention an office to dress for every day. So I thought: swap meet. And when it was impossible to get my fancy-wardrobe friends in a room at the same time, I got to thinking... And realized there's no such thing as curated swapping online. How did I start? By making it up as I go! Starting a year ago, with a great deal of figuring out the system.
What was your background? Magazines, as above. Editor and writer in travel and food. I was travel editor then contributing editor of Food & Wine for nine years. I also wrote The Boxer's Heart—a memoir about my time as pro boxer, about the boxing world; aggression & gender, as well as twelve guide books, and a novel (out on submission now). Regarding fashion, it was a lifelong vocation. I grew up in Notting Hill going to Portobello two times a week every week; vintage is in the blood; I had my own stall in Camden Lock. Segued into designer love affairs....
There is obviously a relation with sustainable practices in fashion inherent to swapping clothes, as it increases their lifecycle? Was that important to you? Yes! Keeping the pieces moving revalues them. I think successful swapping actually encourages investment in the good stuff too; quality not quantity. It is important to support the art of fashion. This is elite recycling; green glamour--a fashion playground for design junkies!
I quite like how you can tell the story of the clothes/accessories you are partying with--why did you include that option? That is totally key. I get very attached to my mistakes and unwearables and one-wear wonders. I LOVE the stuff in the back of my closet, and want to give it a good send off (of course, I've barely done any of my stories yet. But I shall! Really!). To my joy I'm confirming my suspicions that I'm far from alone in this--stories abound: great, funny, poignant, silly, personal, sentimental... all that. It's a bonding connecting thread between us. The antidote to fashion snobbism. Warm and sisterly.