LENA, the Amsterdam-based Fashion Library, was born out of a concern for excessive clothing consumption. LENA co-founder Suzanne Smulders notes that 240 million kilos of clothes are thrown away each year in Holland alone and says it is time or a change. So with the idea of raising awareness of this issue a fashion library was created in the heart of the city by four enterprising young women. Together they created a fun space where clients can go and browse through collection of clothes, borrowing as they would in a library. This means after five days of enjoying an item it can be taken back and exchanged for another, without having to keep the piece forever, nor throw it out. The website says that borrowers have access to a high quality collection of the finest vintage, upcoming designers and eco labels, and can be swapped and shared as much as you like. This idea may not be a new one, but it is thoughtful, simple and efficient, and has the makings of a mini eco-revolution in the Dutch capital.
For LENA’s founders, the whole system needs an overhaul. “Even if brands start using eco materials, it is still about making as much sales as possible,” said Suzanne. “Our opinion is that over consumption is one of the biggest problems in the industry. There should go more focus to craftsmanship and quality in order to produce long lasting items that we can all share together.”
As well as sharing clothes, Suzanne says that LENA aims to make people more conscious about the way they take care of and wash their clothes. They collaborate with AEG who they say manufacture machines that use less energy, and by washing all their garments with the natural detergent Seepje, she says this extends the lifespan of the clothing.
“Our aim is to make a positive impact, but also make fashion fun again,” she said. “We offer unique pieces with which you can experiment, because you can only wear them once or twice.” This playful concept comes with a flexible range of subscriptions, from one-time borrowers to high level users. LENA also offers a swapping system whereby users can exchange an item for their collection in exchange for credit.
We can’t wait to see how this concept evolves! Follow the project on the official LENA Library website.