You know the problem: The new baby is coming up on four months old and he’s already outgrown two rounds of clothing sizes – it’s expensive and a massive waste of resources. Globally, only 20% of clothes are reused or recycled. More parents are beginning to believe that buying baby clothes is wasteful because millions of cute outfits end up in landfills. So if we continue to buy and throw away, it could end having a long run effect on our children’s lives.
So how can we solve this problem? Well, one way we could try is by taking on board one Danish woman’s (and her husband) idea of renting out kidswear clothes. It was a few years ago when Vigga and Peter Svensson, who have worked in ethical kids fashion for over 10 years, realised that they were not the ‘green superheroes’ that they thought they were. This was a realisation that came about when Vigga noticed that even though their products were very green, the way people used their product was not very green. On her findings Vigga said, “It’s a massive waste of resources. So we decided to create a whole new system of using the clothes”.
“Subscribers believe that it basically comes to only owning what they need.”
They founded Vigga (named after Vigga herself) and came up with a business model for a circular economy in the textile industry that offers a paid subscription. Each subscribed member receives a selection of eco-friendly clothes. Made by Vigga, the clothes are updated as the child grows from baby to toddler. The 16-item bundle costs a monthly fee of $55, which the BBC reported to be half the price of 6 Bodysuits brought on the high street.
From A Brainwave To A Business
Working out of a huge laundry plant, located on the outskirts of Copenhagen, Vigga admitted, “In our system a baby’s body is not used 5 times or 7 times, it is instead used 100, maybe 150 times.” In order to deliver fresh baby clothes, minus the inevitable stains, Vigga and her team chip each item to track its usage. All returned items are sorted, inspected, and if needed, repaired. Working with an independent laundry company, gives them access to an industrial washing machine. Once the clothes have gone through the cleaning process, they are then sorted into bags for members, by what Vigga calls ‘the Sushi machine’.
Would You Rent Used Kids Wear Clothes?
Well, here are the facts. The socially responsible label Vigga took part in a life-cycle analysis conducted by independent environmental consultants. They found that by subscribing a family would use 90% lower consumption of water, 72% lower consumption of cotton and 53% less CO2 emissions. With sustainability as part of their award-winning business model, Vigga clothes are GOTS certified, made from Patagonia and the laundry service they use is eco-labeled.
Taking into account the environmental assessment carried out on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Vigga have developed a unique design that ensures that their clothes have a very long life. They believe that the higher the quality, the better because it is in their interest to produce clothes that are as high quality as possible. The more times clothes can circulate, the more resources can be saved.
“In our system a baby’s body is not used 5 times or 7 times, it is instead used 100, maybe 150 times.”
So far, Vigga families have spared 7 tons of CO2 by sharing Vigga clothes with each other. “The longer you are part of Vigga, the most valuable resources you save and the bigger chance you have of securing your baby’s green future”, shared founder Vigga.
Babies Grow and Clothes Do Not Grow
When asked whether parents are able to accept clothes used so many times by strangers, Vigga shared how one family, the Damgaards’s, are one of the 3000 members to join in Denmark since 2014. Attracted to the practicality, many of the subscribers believe that it basically comes to only owning what they need. With the idea of renting clothes spreading, will this idea disrupt the global fast fashion industry? Or is it just a solution for middle class parents? With the business still quite young, I guess we will have to wait and see.
You will also be happy to know that Vigga also has the same system for pregnant women. As the perfect go-to for pregnant women, subscribers will be able to get dressed in environmental quality clothing without harmful chemicals. The great thing is that you get to make your own package with ten exclusive basic styles that can be combined in many ways.
Founding editor-in-chief of FashNerd.com, Muchaneta is currently one of the leading influencers writing about the merger of fashion with technology and wearable technology. She has also given talks at Premiere Vision, Munich Fabric Start and Pure London, to name a few. Besides working as a fashion innovation consultant for various fashion companies like LVMH Atelier, Muchaneta has also contributed to Vogue Business, is a senior contributor at The Interline and an associate lecturer at London College of Fashion, UAL.