Each year, Europeans discard 16 million tons of clothing, according to European Commission data, and only between 15% and 20% of this waste is recovered. The rest goes directly to landfill or is incinerated. In Spain, selective collection and classification of textile waste is not yet mandatory and its management is in its infancy, with only 12% of textile waste collected. To this, we must add the expenditure of resources (energy, water …) and the use of chemical products to create various garments.
These numbers, along with increased environmental awareness, have prompted the creation of alternative fashion businesses and forms of consumption. Among those trying to hack socialist clothing, following the formula of television platforms such as Netflix. The user pays a monthly fee and receives a series of clothes that they return after 30 days for someone else to use later.
Raul Gonzalez launched one of these companies in 2019 after a stint with his partner in Mexico. “Because of work issues, we had to wear formal clothes and change clothes a lot, we spent a lot and collected a lot of clothes that we eventually didn’t use, so when we came back to Spain in 2019, we wanted to start a subscription system like the ones they started to spread in the states United,” he says. And so Ecodicta was born, one of the platforms that started this model in Spain.
System: The user pays a monthly fee and receives the clothes that must be returned within 30 days
Shopping for clothes involves a huge element of rush and whim, and often suffers from noticeable obsolescence: the shirt may be in perfect condition, but you no longer wear it because it’s “old fashioned.” “What we suggest to our clients is that they have their own wardrobe items, that can be worn for a long time; and let them rent out those pieces that are more of the latest fashion, on a whim,” sums up Gonzalez.
At the moment the volume of business is small. His company, which is based in Madrid, has 253 clients – all of them women – most of them (40%) in Catalonia, and mainly in Barcelona. “It is a city with a greater tendency to experiment with new forms and greater environmental awareness,” he considers. The profile is for a professional, managerial or self-employed person between the ages of 30 and 55 who, for business reasons, needs to change their profile frequently. “We also see a group of younger girls, who are very concerned about the environment and trying to reduce consumption in general,” he adds.
Every year about 16 million tons of textile waste is disposed of in Europe
Among the clothes they offer there are clothes worth between 20 and 300 euros (35% of the brands they rent are Catalan). Gonzalez stresses that these should be of quality, so they can be reused for as long as possible and don’t suffer a slight deterioration.
Does this business model have a future? David García, of Modacc, considers this to be a growing format. Above all, thanks to the younger generations, who are already accustomed to consuming differently and raised with the climate emergency message. On the other hand, Joan Sol of Boston Consulting considers that this system works for the luxury sector, but it is useless because fast fashion It sells clothes very cheap and you can change clothes a lot for very little money. Awareness and environmental laws make a difference.