“Fast fashion - but sustainable”: How fashion rental platform LOANHOOD is looking to revolutionise the industry
Tackling fast fashion by changing consumer shopping habits will help to propel the fashion industry towards sustainability. That’s the view of LOANHOOD co-founder and CEO, Lucy Hall.
As a former model agent at Models 1, Lucy Hall met former Britain’s Next Top Model contestant and fashion model Jade McSorley when working together at the modelling agency.
With shared experiences in the fashion industry, the pair shared mutual concerns on the impact of fast fashion on the environment, and set out to create a solution.
Jen Charon, a graphic designer and brand builder who has worked for Net-a-Porter and Yoox, quit her job to work with the pair on creating LOANHOOD, a fashion rental platform.
“Sustainability is at the core of everything that we do, we all worked in the fashion industry and could see the detrimental effects of what was happening,” Hall told Prolific North.
“Right now the average consumer is discarding clothes after wearing it seven or eight times, which is crazy,” she explained.
Eleven million garments end up in landfill each week in the UK, according to a study by Oxfam.
With the fashion rental app, the trio are urging fashion enthusiasts to tackle this by opting for the more sustainable alternative of renting clothes instead.
“The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world,” Hall explained, which is one of the key motivations behind the launching of the app.
“It's crazy and people don't really understand that,” she added.
UK consumers have around £30bn worth of clothes left unworn for a year after purchase, a report by WRAP stated.
“The most sustainable item is the one already in your closet. You can't buy sustainability,” she explained.
With the Northern roots of its founders, Hall, who is based in York, explained the app will initially launch in London but the next city on its radar is Manchester.
“Jade and I are both Northern girls,” explained Hall, “so we want to get to the North as quickly as possible.”
The trio initially started working on a website for the rental platform prior to the government imposed lockdown last year but “COVID came along and scuppered our plans of launching”, she said.
As plans were put on hold for the website, she said it gave the founders time to reflect on the business so they decided to “pivot” towards building an app instead.
In April, the trio secured almost £15,000 of funding through a crowdfunding website, to support the launch of the app.
How the app works
The app is similar to Depop but for fashion rental, Hall explained, and works as a peer-to-peer marketplace targeted at the “digital first Gen Z” generation, born between 1995 and 2010.
“It's like fast fashion - but, it's sustainable,” Hall explained.
“We know that to get people to change behaviour, we have to make it fun and appealing.”
Users can create an account on the app and can navigate the platform for garments - ranging from designer to high-street store items.
“We want to encourage people to start with what they have,” she said.
The platform aims to be 'gender inclusive', so users can opt to list items as ‘ungendered’.
Users seeking to rent out an item are called ‘borrowers’ through the app, and can request to rent an individual item of clothing or seek to rent out a complete ‘look’ compiled by another user.
‘Borrowers’ are able to rent out an item for up to seven days for 20% of the cost of the total price of the garment, or ‘look’.
Users renting out items are called ‘loaners’ and can upload details about the garments, selecting preferences of how the item should be cared for.
‘Loaners’ are provided with the option of signing up to a lender insurance guarantee provided through the app, to protect garments.
Hall explained there will also be a review system in place, which will be monitored.
Initially, the first cohort of users accessing the app will need to be manually approved by the Loanhood team for item verification purposes, she explained.
Once the app is opened up to a wider audience, the founders will seek to use AI software to approve and manage item uploads.
The app will also use Stripe, an online payment processing platform, for payments and user ID verification, as users will need to be over the age of 18 and have an address in the UK to use the platform.
“That's for safety as well, because if you're meeting a person you want to make sure we have their ID and know who they are,” she said.
App users can arrange to exchange items in person, via bike delivery, or via post.
Connecting communities and future of the app
To coincide with the official launch of the app, the founders are planning to host a “rental pop-up” event in London.
Prospective users will have assistance to create accounts and sign-up to the app, the option to try on clothes “straight from the rails”, and bring along items for other users to rent.
“We really want to grow these big hubs and big communities,” Hall explained, as the founders plan to encourage users to connect with each other outside of the app at pop-up events.
“You see when you get out of London that there's a much more of a community vibe.”
“We really see it growing like that,” she added.
The younger generation have “lost that face-to-face community” through the pandemic; "we want to bring it back,” Hall emphasised.
“What we really want to encourage people to do, is to follow people within their community,” she added.
In the future, the founders plan to branch out to partner with local businesses and universities across the UK.
The platform has already partnered with LCF, the London College of Fashion, to create a ‘hub’ through the app which will include working with local influencers and lecturers.
Hall explained the plans are for the app to partner with universities in the North to create similar ‘hubs’.
“We're going to go to Manchester, which has a huge fashion community, and communicate with universities there,” she said.
“What we hope to have is little hubs or lockers where people can drop the items, or partner with local businesses so you can drop off your item and have a person come and pick it up,” she said.
The app is set to launch within the next few weeks with a release to the app store, prior to the pop-up event and official launch.