Digital wardrobe app Whering has come a long way since its launch in June 2020. It has attracted more than 35,000 users, launched a Caring Partners feature with a range of care, repair and donation services and most recently opened a pop-up in Soho as a curated space and educational hub for all things sustainable fashion.
FashionUnited caught up with Whering founder and chief executive Bianca Rangecroft over e-mail on what inspired her to launch the fashion app, how the technology can help consumers be more sustainable, as well as the motivation behind opening a physical pop-up and what’s next for the wardrobe app.
What is Whering and what inspired the concept of the app?
Whering is the Clueless-inspired wardrobe app that allows you to digitise your wardrobe, see and style what you own. We’re building a one-stop-shop for all your fashion needs – where you can keep a moodboard, wishlist, diarise looks but also shop from a curation of pre-loved, rental and slow fashion brands and have your clothes mended, dry-cleaned or ethically donated. We also use machine learning to offer styling suggestions that enable you to view your wardrobe entirely differently, receive outfits ideas you’d never have thought of and get that jolt of novelty not dissimilar from buying something new.
I founded Whering in June 2020 out of a profound desire to democratise the personal styling landscape and fundamentally change the way we interact with our clothes (i.e. upend the throwaway culture). For me the system was broken; the vicious cycle of not being able to see what you own, impulse buying (never getting it quite right) and the lack of inspiration in the styling process meant only one thing, we had to take it digital and harness the power of machine learning to hyper-personalise our fashion experience.
Whering has become known as the ‘Clueless’ wardrobe app - how does embracing technology help consumers be more sustainable?
Our mission is to extend the lifecycle of the clothes lying idle in our physical wardrobes. We’re looking to drastically reduce the carbon and water footprint of consumers by focusing on the two parts of the value chain that they control: purchasing and utilisation. By allowing our users to digitise their wardrobe, they are able to track their wears, their most worn items, recreate different versions of their looks and become true outfit repeaters as well as shop more mindfully through our curation of pieces on sale via the app. The possibilities are endless for making better spending decisions and being more creative with how we use our pieces and put together our outfits. Whering empowers us to differentiate between trying to buy for trends vs putting outfits together that actually work in the long term (saving us £££ and allowing us to be more intentional). Our next move is to create an impact dashboard for our Wherers, to empower them to understand the impact of purchasing decisions and the beauty of offsetting certain behaviours with more conscious ones.
You recently expanded into care, repair, and donation - why was that important?
We’ve just onboarded a network of green dry-cleaners, donation points and repurposing services across the UK to make repurposing, mending and donating a little more accessible. We wanted to make these three crucial parts of the lifecycle of an item a little more intuitive – repeat behaviour comes from effortless substitution from entrenched practices and user-friendly tech allows us to help women prolong the life of their clothing.
The app also offers personalised product recommendations - are you actively working with brands and designers? Any partnerships coming up?
We help you identify what you really need and what new/pre-loved pieces can unlock combinations you had no idea existed. We’ve already got some amazing partnerships in place working directly with some cutting edge brands - the likes of Hirestreet, Rotaro, Wolfe and Badger, Beyond Retro, People tree etc. We’ll be announcing some exciting additions soon – so stay tuned!
Do you think the pandemic has changed how consumers think about fashion?
On the one hand, we’ve seen so many amazing Wherers take this downtime to digitise and get their wardrobes organised (which will serve them in the long run), with a definite emphasis on slowing down and paying closer attention to brands they support and how much they buy.
We’ve also seen overwhelming demand for outfit inspiration during these working from home times where women like us really needed a pick me up and motivation to get dressed and feel alive again - again looking for inspiration and having time to put outfits together demonstrated a real desire to make the most out of what we already own.
On the flip side, although we’ve seen more second-hand purchasing and uploads to the app, there has definitely been an uptick in purchasing behaviour as we neared the summer and continuously now that we’re somewhat back to normal - hence why the Secondhand September work we’re doing is so important to us.
The app has already attracted more than 35,000 users - are you surprised with how quickly the app has been received?
We’re elated by the progress we’ve made so far (especially having bootstrapped until now). For us, reaching product market fit was the biggest priority - we’d been meeting weekly with our community to ensure what we were building was truly transforming the way we interact with our clothes and helping us all adopt more conscious behaviours through ease of access and flawless tech.
What was the driving force behind opening up Whering’s first physical space?
Our store will be a curated space and educational hub for all things sustainable fashion, holding panel talks, workshops and community events. This September is all about female founders and community activation for us – we really wanted to uplift, connect and democratise access to fashion expertise by bringing us all together in a physical space for the first time.
What can consumers expect from the pop-up?
A chic yet retro vibe – we’re channelling wardrobe zen with our Soho pop up. Our space is filled with beautiful pre-loved gems, rental statement pieces and interior deco items of dreams. We’ve also put together an exciting array of events; from tarot card reading, a self-love ritual, free yoga to a panel talk on how to break up with fast fashion and a Clueless movie screening.
How are you celebrating Second-Hand September?
Whering that uses AI to help you make the most of your current clothes and shop more mindfully and so we wanted to honour Secondhand September by transforming our space into a cosy home for beautiful vintage garments and a donations/tailoring pickup/drop off point to remind us all to slow down. We’re also working with some incredible partners from pre-loved, rental and vintage brands to brighten up your September and help us all break up with fast fashion (for at least 30 days!).
What’s next for Whering?
We’re definitely the new kid on the block – but we’ve moved super fast – and plan to continue doing so in 2021 and beyond. Next big thing on our agenda (which I’m sure you’ve guessed) is taking the app social. This would allow our Wherers to open up their closets to their friends, strategies on what the ‘collective’ will be wearing on their next outing, share outfits when they travel and swap things they no longer want. For us, creating a space where our users can engage, comment and purchase others’ items is key to a truly experiential product.