At first Sonja Wunderlich didn’t miss her down jacket that much. But after she had lent the good piece for a few days, she began to miss it. And when the woman from Munich got her jacket back from Prada after four weeks, she didn’t like it as much as she did for a long time. “I wore them for four days in a row,” says Wunderlich. The test phase of “Clothesfriends”, a new platform with app that Wunderlich founded together with Carmen Jenny, lasted five months. And today, almost three weeks after the official launch, the women entrepreneurs can say with certainty: Your offer strengthens awareness of the value of fashion. It doesn’t matter whether you use “Clothesfriends” to rent or rent clothes.
And so, on a sunny May day, two women, 24 and 25 years old, sit in the shade of the trees at the lumber yard and tell how they want to relieve the strained fashion market with their start-up. An industry that is considered to be one of the greatest polluters of all. A system that has made itself sick through overproduction and constantly changing collections. Always faster, always more. “On average, Germans buy 60 new items of clothing a year,” says Carmen Jenny, referring to a study by Greenpeace. But these would only be worn for half as long as 15 years ago. The market is almost overflowing, there are tons of textiles. But since secondhand fashion got rid of the stereotype of the musty, many no longer have a problem with used clothing. So why not go back to what is already in circulation? Asked Wunderlich and Jenny, who studied fashion journalism together at the Akademie Mode & Design (AMD) in Munich.
They developed “clothesfriends” and this is how it works: E.A woman rents a dress to another so that she can wear it for a week, a month, or even a whole summer. The app gives a price recommendation based on the rental period and the new value of the item of clothing, after which the landlord sets the actual rental price, and Wunderlich and Jenny receive 20 percent of this as commission. Boutiques, second-hand shops or cafés serve as handover locations – there are now eight of these “hubs” in Munich. You can of course also send the clothes, explain the founders. And because Wunderlich and Jenny want to establish their concept in other cities as well, they have now set up their first hub in Hamburg as well. Sooner or later they also want to open a shop in Munich, a kind of rental boutique.
The business partners now have around 800 registrations, and “Clothesfriends” are already followed by more than 2500 people on Instagram. Wunderlich and Jenny have a clear idea of how their offer could change the contents of the wardrobes: “Everyone has their basic wardrobe at home, and they can also rent things they want,” says Wunderlich. And while the two tell how they used to borrow their friends’ clothes before leaving because this or that item looked so great, you gradually understand how much the Munich women’s business idea thrives on the joy of expression. Fashion should be fun – this has nothing to do with the renunciation that is so often attributed to sustainable lifestyles.
“You don’t have to limit your consumption, you just have to change it,” says Wunderlich. The young generation, as they call the group of 15 to 30-year-olds, has long since internalized this. They didn’t want to accumulate any more possessions, but they definitely wanted to consume. Admittedly, some people will have to get used to renting clothes, after all, pants are not a car. The fact that large companies have recently started lending – the H&M offshoot Arket, for example, rents out children’s clothing – can be seen as an indication of the trend that is being sensed in lending.
Wunderlich and Jenny have already followed this development when they were studying, the Munich-based women see two or three competitors on the German market for their company. An app and “local handover locations” only offer “clothesfriends”, explain the women. “We’re not talking about competitors either, but about competitors,” emphasizes Carmen Jenny. Competitive thinking does not go with sharing, which in principle is an act of community. The more people participate, the greater the choice, the better. Dior or C&A, young or old – everything and everyone is also welcome at “Clothesfriends”. Older Munich women in particular would have great treasures in their closets, enthuses Wunderlich. Blazer with accentuated shoulders, pinstripes, bell-bottoms. Everything be there again.