Chidubem Nwabufo, founder of Impact Fashion discusses how technology has shaped the negative social and environmental effects of the fashion industry, but how new tech innovations could help tackle these same issues.
Impact Fashion received £10,000 funding from Our Bright Future project, The Environment Now.
Technology has become a pivotal part of how we interact with clothes. We easily shop from our phones, get endless style inspiration from our friends and influencers on Instagram and can learn ‘who made my clothes’ in a couple of clicks. These changes are reshaping today’s fashion industry. Our preference for online shopping means footfall (the number of in-store visits) has declined. Declining visits to physical stores have resulted in retailers like House of Fraser reducing the number of their stores in their portfolio. Meanwhile, the popularity of Instagram (and its peers) is driving young people to shop more often to avoid the crime of being photographed twice in the same outfit. This increase in our consumption has been connected to clothes being the UK’s fastest growing waste stream in the last decade.
It is undeniable that technology is revolutionising fashion, as we know it; providing endless opportunities for both clothes users and makers.
Given my interest in the effect fashion has on society and the environment, seeing the power technology welds got me thinking about how it could be used to positively influence the fashion industry. Thus, Impact Fashion, a fashion technology company focused on transforming how clothes are used and discarded, was born thanks to funding from The Environment Now (a collaboration between O2, Our Bright Future and the National Youth Agency).
We use technology to make it easier for consumers to do good with their wardrobes and clothes. Through the understanding that there is a lack of awareness of where and what clothes to recycle, our first product was developed. It is a mobile app that shows users where their nearest clothing recycling points are and provides information on the clothing recycling process. Through the app, we want to make clothes recycling easier and help divert a proportion of the 300,000 tonnes of clothes sent to landfill every year by Brits. So far, the response to our work has been positive; we’ve secured funding, built strong partnerships and officially launched in the app store with a gradual rise in new users.
To achieve these highs there are numerous hurdles. As sustainability in fashion is in its infancy, there is still limited knowledge of the impact of improper disposal of clothes. This means that the number of people who engage with us is restricted to a small group of people in the know. To tackle this, we host and participate in events and try to engage our target audience through mediums they already use. Another challenge comes from the recycling sector, which is well established, and therefore sometimes resistant to innovation.
Green Great Britain Week is highlighting the actions that companies and individuals are taking to facilitate clean growth spotlights possibility. It was because of this I wanted to participate.
By sharing what we at Impact Fashion are doing, who knows what could be triggered?
Photo: The app’s launch event on 14 August 2018 with speakers Sarah Ditty (Head of Policy at Fashion Revolution), Mulan Itoje (Model and Writer) and Bel Jacobs (Ethical Fashion Blogger and former Metro Fashion Editor)