Dark kitchens are transforming how we eat. Will dark closets transform how we dress?
Why we invested in Hack Your Closet
The real cost of new clothes
When you bought your Christmas jumper, or an outfit for New Years’ Eve, did you think about the climate impact of it?
Maybe not. Even for those of us who try to live in a smarter way, it’s easy to be swayed by price, social function and emotions. There’s only so much climate-guilt we can take, and we’ve grown up with clothes being available, cheap and a source of everyday joy.
Sadly, there’s a dark side behind our addiction to new clothes. Firstly: landfill. Every single second, a rubbish truck-sized load of clothing ends up burnt or buried in landfill. Even the clothing we donate to charity can end up as landfill. Looking to Accra as just one example, 15 million used garments flood into the Ghanian capital every week - many going straight to landfill.
The fashion industry currently accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions - and the UN estimates it will rise to a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050 - taking away vital space in the budget as we decarbonise other industries. It’s clear we need change, but where do we start?
Well, 70% of fashion’s emissions are caused by the manufacturing process (producing, preparing and processing materials). We need innovation in source materials, as we wrote about in 2021, but the other place to start is extending the lifecycle of items made. We can reduce the impact of clothing by 49% by using items twice as much. We can resell, rent, repair clothes, and circular business models offer hope: but how much are they being adopted?
We reuse clothes, but not always systematically
Reusing clothes isn’t a new idea, and resale, rental, repair and remaking are estimated to become a USD 700 billion opportunity by 2030. There are second hand clothes, charity shops, vintage shops and online marketplaces - as well as newer options like high-spec rental models which allow people to access designer clothes for a fraction of the retail price. These existing models are great for saving money, but they can be a time drain (think: trawling vintage clothing rails), and focused on single items (think: renting a single bag for a wedding). What hasn’t happened yet is a systemic overhaul of how we get dressed.
To achieve widespread change, we need an option that is accessible to many and not just the few, and a solution that understands the joy of discovering new clothing items.
Enter Hack your closet
Hack Your Closet - a startup based in Stockholm - offers a brand new solution. We invested in Hack Your Closet in 2020.
Hack Your Closet is a clothing subscription service which provides a monthly delivery of clothes, selected by a stylist - tailored to the data you’ve given them on your style. For just €29 a month, you get access to their rotating dark closets. You don’t buy or rent directly from the brands but instead Hack Your Closet operate their own, aggregated closets - delivering a freshly-cleaned package on your doorstep every month.
What sets Hack Your Closet apart is how they find their inventory. Their main source is brand’s overstock and ‘deadstock’: perfectly wearable clothes that are often incinerated or sent to landfill. Brands are desperate to find a home for this overstock, not just to avoid waste but also from a legal perspective. Regulations in the EU are coming, and in France it is already illegal for brands to destroy unsold clothes.
But hang on, isn’t renting bad for the environment?
It’s been said that renting, with the transportation and cleaning costs, is actually worse for the environment than buying new. For some specific materials, and in some business models it can be. The difference is that Hack Your Closet is not a traditional renting model - it’s a subscription model.
The reason renting items can have a high footprint is because of transportation and cleaning. Hack Your Closet have designed their process around subscription not rental. They partner with 97% fossil free vehicles, and they use robust cardboard boxes for packaging - which can be reused up to 6 times before being recycled. They don’t allow any items that require dry cleaning to enter their closets (instead tumble drying with warm air that is later used to heat their facilities). They also use environmentally friendly and allergy-free detergent: washing the clothes at 30 degrees to avoid microplastics and using steaming. Using overstocks also avoids contributing to the production emissions.
Reducing your fashion footprint by 97%
Hack Your Closet are also keen to prove their credentials, not just talk about them. They recently ran a verified Life Cycle Assessment which showed that customers can reduce their carbon footprint by 97% (when compared to an average clothing consumption).
This means 170 garments from Hack Your Closet would equal the CO2 equivalent of buying 3 new garments* - a huge environmental saving. Since inception, Hack Your Closet has enabled over 449 thousand additional uses of the garments they use.
The joy of sustainability
It’s clear we need to stop buying as many new clothes, but the move towards sustainable fashion can be time costly. Hack Your Closet’s solution provides a simple, joyful experience that fits into our lives and frees up our cognitive load. We’ve all seen celebrity walk-in wardrobes, but now everyone can have a personal stylist selecting clothes for them based on their own taste and for less than thirty euros a month.
We all deserve to express ourselves, but as our lives get busier many of us simply don’t have the time and energy to trace down the aesthetic items that make us feel good. Hack Your Closet offers the dream of a personal stylist at scale - without the carbon footprint and without the closet space. Spotify replaced CD’s, Netflix replaced DVD’s - why do we need to keep collecting clothing?
What’s next for Hack Your Closet?
We invested in Hack Your Closet because of their vision to disrupt fashion and their tenacity to make it happen. They are already live in two markets (France and Sweden), and have popular partners on board like Kappahl and Chiquelle. They are a female-founded company, building a product to enable women to dress in a way that makes them feel good, reduce their impact on the planet, and rotate their whole wardrobe. The closer you look at fashion, the more you realise how much needs to change - and it requires new thinking and new models to get there. We are excited to see what’s next.
Check here to see the latest roles from Hack Your Closet.