“Own Nothing, Have Everything” — How closed-loop clothing membership services are changing the fashion industry

FOR DAYS via Instagram

I have a confession to make.

See, here’s the thing: it’s hard for me to stay committed… to my closet. Frankly, there’s nothing wrong with the clothes I already own. But with fashion trend cycles running like clockwork, it’s often difficult to not want to buy into them.

In the past, my pursuit for the perfect wardrobe has left my closet heaping with fairly unworn (<1 year old) clothes I no longer wanted to keep—items bought on impulse, styles whose relevance expired after a short period of time, etc, etc. While fortunately, my (not-so-)“old” tops found new homes in the hands of my younger family members, not all wardrobe rejects find new purposes just as easily. In fact, the average American disposes of  about 80 pounds of used clothing annually—80 pounds of likely still-functional clothing that goes straight to landfill.

“…the average American disposes about 80 pounds of used clothing annually…”

As the global textile waste garbage patch grows each year, I’ve made efforts to “environmentalize” my shopping habits—by supporting fair-trade brands, buying first-hand only what I need and thrifting what I don’t, and overall reducing my garment consumption. Me being an increasingly busy college student, I don’t really mind wearing the same four hoodies on rotation for an entire year, save a few occasions. But for the avid shopaholics who live for the ultimately refreshing feeling of putting on a brand new sweater or a fresh pair of jeans, shopping sustainably and reducing consumption may be somewhat of a challenge.

If you fall into the latter category, not to fret. L.A. based t-shirt company, For Days, may have a sustainable solution for you.

You may have already heard of companies like Rent the Runway or Le Tote, that allow customers to rent out designer clothing for a fraction of retail price, wear the pieces for an ambiguous period of time, return them when finished, and repeat—all for a flat monthly membership fee.

“…for the avid shopaholics who live for the ultimately refreshing feeling of putting on a brand new sweater or a fresh pair of jeans, shopping sustainably and reducing consumption may be somewhat of a challenge.”

For Days applies this same, convenient rent-and-return model to classic wardrobe staples—the scoop tank, white tee, black hoodie, etc.—that people use everyday. When you sign up for a yearly membership with For Days (ranging from $38-$104/yr), you can receive up to 10 tops, wear them for as long as you like, and return them in any state at any time. Upon return, you can order a refresh—of the same top, or a new style of choice—for a fee of $8.

FOR DAYS via website

Clothing rental services are generally sustainable in that they reduce water and energy usage and emissions related to new clothing manufacturing. What differentiates For Days from aforementioned services like Rent the Runway is not only their product selection, but also the fact that For Days provides a closed-loop service.

In a closed-loop system (also called a circular economy), resource inputs and wastes are minimized. For Days accomplishes this through a variety of earth-friendly production and distribution practices: sourcing cotton organically, utilizing renewable energy and water management techniques, packaging with recyclable/reusable materials, and avoiding overproduction. (Learn more about their process here.)

Within the closed loop, a product at the end of its life cycle should also be repurposable, through repair, remanufacturing, upcycling, or—even more ideally—recycling into its original state. For Days does just that. Whenever an item is returned, For Days breaks down the garment and recycles it into another consumable product, just as good as new.

FOR DAYS via Instagram

So is it really possible to  simultaneously “own nothing” and “have everything”?

For Days founder Kristy Caylor believes that her circular clothing service is the way to “liberate ourselves from the burden of ownership”—that is, the burden of not “hav[ing] everything we want without creating waste”.

So is it really possible to simultaneously “own nothing” and “have everything”—at least in the scope of fashion production? In contrast to the company’s tagline, the rent-return-recycle model obviously has its own limitations. While scrolling through the For Days website, one of the first things I noticed was the narrow product selection, which consisted primarily of tees and tanks in a few color options. In addition to the lack of styles, the membership and replacement fees aren’t at all affordable for their simplicity of style. This also calls into question who will actually be able to benefit off of services like these.

Nevertheless, For Days is taking multiple first steps in normalizing closed-loop production in the notoriously wasteful fashion industry. Considering that the company launched only May of this year, it still has immense potential for growth and product expansion, making the product more accessible and maybe even inspiring other brands to take suit.

Learn more about the clothing brand For Days here.

Isabelle Osorio

Isabelle Osorio is a first year student from the Bay Area intending to major in Business Administration and minor in Global Poverty and Practice. She is passionate about working with youth and advancing corporate social responsibility in the sectors of environment and ethics. Though she has no previous journalism experience, she is extremely excited to write about sustainable living and fashion in the SERC blog this year. In her free time, you can probably find her napping, listening to r&b, watching documentaries, and spending time with her family. Isabelle Osorio covers sustainable living.

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2 Responses

  1. Eileen says:

    Very interesting read! I must admit I’ve never thorougly thought about this topic too much before, but I know it’ll be crossing my mind the next time I find myself at the mall. Thanks for publishing.

  2. Nicole says:

    Lovely article Isabelle!

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