The Amsterdam entrepreneurs taking over the digital sustainable fashion space
Swapping fast fashion for a more sustainable wardrobe is one of the easier steps to environmentally friendly living. On Earth Day 2022, check out these Amsterdam-founded marketplaces which are changing the way shoppers can search, buy, wear and re-love sustainable fashion.
How polluting is the fashion industry?
It’s widely known that the fashion industry is the second most polluting in the world. We buy 60% more clothing than 15 years ago and wear those items half as long.
Consumers treat cheap clothes as practically disposable, with estimates suggesting they’re thrown away after just seven or eight wears. In the Netherlands alone, 240 million kilos of textile is wasted every year.
If emerging markets meet the Western rate of consumption, it will result in 77% more carbon emissions, 20% more water use and 7% more land use by 2025 on 2015 levels - and that’s the fashion industry alone.
Emerging sustainable fashion platforms from Amsterdam
In Amsterdam, entrepreneurs are taking sustainability seriously from the outset. Inspired by the presence of Fashion for Good, the world’s first museum and accelerator dedicated to sustainable fashion, and platforms like sustainability-focused House of Denim, new companies are rejecting the fast fashion frenzy and offering shoppers an alternative.
For Earth Day, 22 April, we’ve listed some of these emerging retailers in Amsterdam changing the way shoppers consider, purchase, use and re-use clothes.
Milan Daniels and Max Klijnstra founded Otrium in 2015 to challenge the fashion industry's problem of excess inventory and make sure “every piece of clothing is worn”. Its off-season outlet allows brands to offload their unsold items which Otrium stores and handles. It also applies smart technology to price and rate each garment’s sustainability credentials so customers can make a conscious choice. Daniels and Klijnstra were listed in Forbes 30 under 30 in 2019. Last year the pair raised $120m and launched Otrium in the US.
From responsible sneakers, to vegan backpacks to recycled swimwear, Renoon’s app connects shoppers to eco-conscious brands, which includes pre-owned, re-worked and rented clothes. Founded in Amsterdam in 2020, Renoon claims it has the first sustainability tool that processes attributes at the product level, rather than the company’s sustainability statements. It was named innovation of the year 2021 by Copenhagen Fashion Summit, and co-founder and CEO Iris Skrami was among Forbes 30 under 30 Italy list for 2021. In November the firm was backed by VC-firm Global 500.
Project Cece was created in 2016 by sisters Melissa and Marcella Wijngaarden, and their friend Noor Veenhoven, who met while studying in Amsterdam. The trio realised there was an opening for a marketplace for ethical, fair and sustainable fashion brands. Project Cece lists the unique collections of more than 200 ethical fashion retailers and more than 400 fair trade fashion brands, resulting in 40,000 products in one place. Shoppers can not only filter by certificates and labels, but also type of clothing, price range and colour, like any more marketplace. In 2019, it launched in the UK, and it is one of 11 startups recently accepted onto the Techstars Berlin accelerator.
The Next Closet
Lieke Pijpers and Thalita van Ogtrop founded The Next Closet in 2013 to create the leading circular marketplace for second-hand designer fashion in the Benelux. It links up with vintage boutiques and well-known sellers to stock clothing for fashion lovers. Since setting up nine years ago, 161kg of garments have found a next closet through the platform. In August 2021, The Next Closet raised €3 million from impact investors.
Thegreenlabels was founded by Claudia Angeli, a former member of Impact Hub Amsterdam. Now CEO, her personal mission is to reduce waste and help people navigate the complex world of sustainable shopping. Thegreenlabels curates high-quality sustainable products at accessible prices. Each product has sustainability labels, such as non-toxic, made in Europe, innovative practices, and waste reduction, to encourage transparency and continuous improvement.
The Netherlands’ first clothing library Lena (Dutch website) founded in 2014 by Angela, Diana and Elisa Jansen and Suzanne Smulders, has grown to be a go-to solution for wearing something new without contributing to an environmentally destructive fashion industry. The Amsterdam-based store and online library lets shoppers borrow clothes like books. And sharing instead of buying means producing less, consuming less and producing less waste. Lena says it has lent about 25,000 items of clothing in recent years.
Looking for a designer label at a fraction of the price? My Dressoir has one of the largest online rental offerings allowing women to find a new outfit that is wallet friendly and planet friendly. The company was founded in 2019 by Maxine Hassing, who started her own impact-driven company after working on sustainability initiatives at Heineken, Shell and Impact Institute.
Amsterdam’s focus on sustainability
As the top European city for environmental policies and a commitment to being fully circular by 2050, Amsterdam is an ideal place for companies looking to make a positive environmental impact in sustainable fashion and innovation. It’s home to Fashion for Good, an accelerator for sustainable startups, and fast-growing companies like Lalaland which are leveraging tech to bring about a more inclusive fashion industry.