Say what now, a fashion library?

A group of Dutch women are pioneering the next step in the evolution of the sharing economy with the advent of ‘the fashion library’. They thought what the heck we’re already sharing our homes, cars and bicycles, so why not capitalise the pants off of this.

To give it the edge they’ve gone and coined this latest fad as ‘the fashion library’. There’s only one in the whole country at present. Yip you guessed it, it’s in Amsterdam. There are not even a handful of countries (Australia, Sweden) who are doing this.

The fashion library is rumoured to be the successor of the vintage concept. It’s environmentally friendly, it offers exclusive clothing with none of that musty second-hand nonsense. The consumer purchases high-end fashion pieces and swaps them out under a fixed subscription.

It’s sustainable because no new raw materials are used to produce the clothing. You’re not contributing to the fast fashion bungle and the waste that goes along with it. You’re lightening the burden that the industry has on the environment. And you’re always dressed up to the nines.

I just can’t see any down side to this.

Bring the library back
Bring the library back

Visit a fashion library near you

When LENA ‘the fashion library’, the first boutique of the Netherlands sprung up in the Westerstraat of Amsterdam in 2014 business was slow and it really took a while before people warmed up to it. But now it’s thriving.

Turns out the sharing economy is not going away. Who are we to hold a grudge because the Dutch are once again pioneering an innovative concept?

Dutch people are already rather adept at renting their neighbours cars and homes. And it’s all done via nifty apps of course.

Clothing is just the next step in the evolution I suppose. Go figure, they will share their clothing, homes, cars, you name it but try and get them to share space on a sidewalk or the doorway of a public building and you’ve got another thing coming – like an elbow.

LENA (a play on the word leen meaning to borrow in Dutch) has tapped into the need for a new definition of vintage, that’s updated and more appealing. They only stock high quality, genuine fashion collections, including the work of upcoming designers and sustainable labels and they make it accessible to a more diverse public.

They are able to do so because they contract young designers and give them a platform to exhibit their skills. If you really can’t find it in your heart to part with an item you are given the opportunity to buy it. That’s how they make the concept renewable and workable.

Dress for ecological success

Apart from their own website they operate under the website voordewereldvanmorgen (vdwvm) roughly meaning for the world of the future (tomorrow). This website in itself is special as it showcases hundreds of different sustainable projects happening in the Netherlands giving you easy access to them. Yet another clever way to inspire people to support multiple green projects.

Let's not rewrite the book, let's read it this time round.
Let’s not rewrite the book, let’s read it this time around.

The basic premise of the fashion library though is that you take out a monthly subscription with which you can swap out three key pieces as often as you like.

You’re paying less for designer items, you’re curbing your consumption greed and you’re helping to reduce the demand for sweatshop clothing which is inhumane.

At LENA they claim that the average individual only uses about 20% of their wardrobe.

The overconsumption monster gets nourished each time you tell yourself you have nothing cool to wear when you have a wardrobe full of clothes. You don’t have to buy something new each time you need a cute ensemble. There are other options out there! Well in the Netherlands at least.

Inga Strydom
Inga Strydom
I am a South African journalist with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and pushing the envelope on how people relate to the environment. I have seen some hectic things and I have heard my fair share of bizarre accounts. Follow me on Twitter where I go by my Dutch name:



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