Edda Hamar of Undress Runways discusses the future of the sharing economy and how her newest project is set to change the face of the fashion industry.
Hands up if you’ve rented a holiday house through Airbnb. And I bet you’ve hitched an Uber into the city for a night out! The share economy is slowly but surely becoming part of our everyday lives. In 2017, Undress, a new and innovative way to share clothes, will change the way we consume fashion.
Edda Hamar, the founder of Undress Runways (Australia’s largest sustainable fashion runway event), will launch the Undress sharing platform early this year.
Since its inception in 2011, Undress Runways has gone on to hold national runway shows, create sustainable fashion label Vihn, and publish a yearly magazine called Naked. A trailblazer in her field, Edda was named a UN Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals 2016-2017.
Along with a dedicated team, Edda has shaped the way we look at sustainable fashion in Australia. Now, she’s turning her eye to transforming the global fashion industry.
The Undress platform will be a seamless online peer-to-peer marketplace where users will be able to list, discover and borrow clothes. Open to users from all around the world, the service will also offer a review system much like Uber’s.
“The future vision (hopefully not too far in the future) is that Undress will become a global community that can travel anywhere in the world,” says Edda.
The Icelandic-born CEO says Undress users could visit her home country, for example, with minimal luggage, and tap into a local’s climate-appropriate wardrobe.
Edda also hopes to partner with Uber, allowing users to be picked up from the airport by a car carrying all the clothes they need for the duration of their stay. A car would also drop them back to the airport and return the clothes to the owner.
“The idea is to bring back this value of quality and appreciation for good clothes,” Edda says. “We’ve lost the appreciation of the design process and loving a piece because it lasts.”
Getting to this point has required Edda and her team at Undress Runways to adapt and evolve in order to remain relevant. In addition to the launch of sustainable label Vihn, Undress Runways has introduced technology to the business in order to keep up with current government focus on innovation and start-ups.
For Edda, it’s a simple matter: “Rather than getting people to change the way they behave, why don’t we just change the product?”
After launching the Vihn label, Edda and her team felt that they still weren’t ticking all of the sustainable boxes.
“While sustainable and ethical fashion is important and that’s the way everyone should be designing and producing, we’re still adding more stuff,” says Edda. “Everyone is still adding, and when you’re adding it’s going to end up in nature.”
That’s why Vihn’s second collection will be exclusively for borrowing. This is an exciting concept for designers and consumers alike as it means there’s increased opportunity to create beautifully-crafted, one-of-a-kind designs rather than a small mass-produced collection that could end up as waste if it goes unsold.
A concept like Undress was inevitable, and the adaptable attitude of the Undress Runways team only helped to speed up the process. Learning and evolving alongside the consumer has ensured that the needs of everyone involved in the supply chain are met. It has also allowed the goal of sustainability and ethical production to remain at the forefront.
Edda hopes the sharing economy will change the rate of demand. With quick and easy solutions, people will no longer need to look to fast fashion for a brand-new and exciting outfit.
“The idea that people want something new to wear on Saturday night will never die,” says Edda. “Undress means that people can keep loving fashion without even realising that it’s sustainable.”
Edda is unsure how the sharing economy will impact the developing nations that manufacture fast fashion.
“If we end up doing a bit of a side step by utilising the clothes we own more and start investing in higher quality clothes, then demand is going to drop,” she says. “We’re making a lot of progress in terms of ethics but perhaps we’re going to have a massive work displacement.”
The luxury sector that relies on exclusivity may also see some changes with the introduction of shared clothing.
“[Dress hire sites] are already creating this divide between designers who want respect and exclusivity, and consumers who don’t want to have to pay $2000 to wear an item once. So the idea of exclusivity in the luxury and high fashion sector is definitely going to become diluted,” she says.
“If every man and his dog is getting around in Chanel, no one will want to buy Chanel because it’s not exclusive anymore,” she adds.
Edda thinks that luxury labels are wary of this evolution, and she predicts a change in business models. Are designers going to implement waiting lists for their garments? Are customers going to have to sign waivers saying they won’t hire out the garments? Will labels start hiring out their own products?
To counteract these issues, Edda wants to offer a service to designers whereby they hire out their clothes on the Undress platform. Edda says that it will act as a substitution service for businesses, retailers and designers.
Whatever the future brings, there’s no denying that a sustainable, streamlined and stylish method for sharing fashion is exciting.
Welcome to Undress and the future of fashion!