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Fashion consultancy Recloseted: “The sustainable fashion space is a bit like the Wild West”

By Simone Preuss

17 Oct 2022

Fashion

Recloseted founder Selina Ho at the office in Vancouver. Image: Recloseted

Recloseted is a Vancouver- and London-based consultancy for the fashion industry, founded in 2019. It advises designers on how to start their own conscious brand, keeps track of trends and innovations in sustainable fashion, and shares how to future-proof a business with sustainability best practices, among other services. FashionUnited spoke with Recloseted founder and CEO Selina Ho in an email interview about the hurdles and opportunities for the industry to become more sustainable. 

Could you tell us a bit about what prompted you to start Recloseted?

I started Recloseted to transform the harmful fashion industry. I am someone who has always loved clothing but was an ignorant fast fashion consumer until five years ago. I got a skin rash wearing a polyester shirt and that led me down a rabbit hole of discovering the dirty truths behind our garments. I watched The True Cost documentary and learned more about the harmful materials that go into our clothing, the unethical treatment of garment workers, the mass overconsumption of clothing, and the millions of tonnes of textile waste we send to our landfills. Once I became aware of all of this, I knew I had to do something about it and Recloseted was born.

Recloseted founder Selina Ho. Image: Recloseted

As you are working worldwide, in which country/region do you see the most demand for your services currently?

We’re seeing a lot of demand all over the world, which is exciting. However, most of our clients are from Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. 

What is the most common hurdle that has prevented brands so far from becoming more sustainable?

Many brands get overwhelmed with where and how to start. It is a big undertaking and can be hard with limited time, resources and budget. That is why it is important for folks to know their ‘why’ and pick their sustainability priorities. 

We always recommend our clients pick one or two priorities so that they don’t get overwhelmed and can do those one or two things really well. Picking and choosing battles is necessary when a brand has limited time, resources and budgets. 

How difficult is it to find new manufacturers for brands?

It can be difficult if people don’t have industry knowledge and/or connections, and this is their first time doing it. I always advise against startup fashion brands signing up for manufacturers with high minimum order quantities (MOQs) because it is not a good idea to have cash tied up in inventory that isn’t selling. However, finding a low MOQ manufacturer adds another layer of complexity. As well, there is much around being “scammed” and taken advantage of, so folks really need to do their due diligence. 

The Recloseted team in Vancouver. Image: Recloseted

How worried are companies about greenwashing at the moment?

This is a huge topic right now! Many of our clients take steps to be conscious and actually hesitate to talk about their progress because they’re afraid of backlash whereas brands that aren’t conscious shout that they are “green” or “eco” from the rooftops. It is quite ironic and the sustainable fashion space is a bit like the Wild West. 

What is one piece of advice you would have for brands starting out who want to be sustainable from the beginning?

I know there is a lot of pressure to be “perfectly sustainable” and I want to share that there is no such thing as a truly 100 percent sustainable brand. I talk about it in my podcast and our Instagram and YouTube channel but if folks wanted to start a truly sustainable fashion brand, they wouldn’t start a business because being in business has environmental impacts. Therefore, the true essence of sustainability is about balance — how does everyone balance taking what they need while leaving enough for future generations? So hopefully that alleviates some of the pressure to be “perfectly sustainable” and it encourages brands to just start.

The first step I would take is to get clear on why you’re doing this and what is important to you. Is it the unethical treatment of garment workers? Is it the millions of tonnes of textile waste that go to landfills? Why is sustainability important to you and what one or two priorities can your brand focus on, as I mentioned in the third question. 

What about established brands who want to make the switch?

The tips I shared in the previous question also apply to established brands. Additionally though, I want to stress the importance of making realistic yet ambitious targets and then creating a roadmap to achieve them. Instead of setting super unrealistic targets that sound good, think about what you can actually achieve in the next year, three years, five years, etc. and then make a solid plan around that. We need more accountability and commitment from brands vs. grand statements and brushing targets under the rug when they inevitably don’t get met.

Recloseted
Sustainable Fashion