POOL: Wear more, waste less – Fashion as-a-Service
To wear or to have? Use or own? What is fashion for? Do I use it to create my look, or do I need to own it? Do we want to swear off the excitement of designer highlights and the joy of expressing ourselves through fashion? Or do we sometimes just want something new because we live in a material world and also love wearing new things? These are some of the critical questions posed by the Berlin-based startup POOL. And Rune Orloff and Kristian Rix asked themselves the same questions when they were coming up with their business concept. Is there a way to connect our love of consumption with the fashion industry without multiplying our ecological footprint?
The two Danish founders and masterminds behind POOL are convinced there is. But not by going down the usual moralising path that tries to teach us the virtues of conscious consumption, while we are inundated with sheer endless offerings. Rune and Kristian have done the math: If a shirt is shared by two wearers, its carbon footprint drops by about 30%. So how much greater the CO2 savings if even more people wear the same shirt? And they even look at the underlying question of what consumption actually means.
Wear more, waste less – the new slogan.
Instead of urging fashionistas to rein in their consumption, POOL’s motto is: enjoy even more fashion, play around with it, try more things – but use a reputable circular system. POOL tackles the masses of clothes that are produced season after season, the pre-programmed oversupply of garments that mostly end up in the garbage without ever having been worn. Globally, this amounts to almost 30% of the annual production. In Germany alone we’re talking about close to 1.5 million fashion items.
The concept of POOL: fashion as a service, meaning as a subscription service instead of a commodity. Their target group: men, and anyone fond of men’s clothing, who no longer see ownership as a status symbol, but who like to have access to exquisite brands and upscale labels. They sign up for a POOL membership and pay a monthly subscription fee, depending on the number of designer pieces they want to rent.
Sustainability that benefits everyone.
The fashion labels are very interested. In the last few months huge amounts of perfectly good clothes have ended up lying around in the system. POOL offers the solution for this global, all-season problem that is largely ignored. It is an idea that is both simple and exclusive in equal measure – a win-win for everyone involved.
Currently, POOL has about 20 partners, including brand names such as Commes des Garcons, Byborre, Soulland and the Berlin label Hien Le. A good 200 styles can be found at the newly renovated POOL premises in Markgrafenstrasse in Berlin, a bright industrial warehouse that houses the showroom, office and experience space. These headquarters provide enough space to store some 5,000 garments.
For weeks, POOL customers have already been signing up to be put on waiting lists. At the moment the service is still being offered via Instagram, but the app is already in the pipeline. And of course, the clothes can be tried on IRL in the showroom. Customers in Berlin select their desired garments and mix and match their looks on these platforms. Then a bicycle courier delivers them to their door on the same day. Or customers can pick them up themselves. Signs of wear and tear? Don’t stress – that’s what the insurance is for. And it goes without saying that all items are thoroughly cleaned by the CleanTeam partner near POOL.
From Berlin to the world.
Rune Orloff, CEO of POOL, gained sales and distribution experience in the fashion business all over the world. Among other things, he was head of international sales and business development for the Danish designer label Henrik Vibskov and also commercial director of Mykita, a luxury eyewear brand based in Berlin. His friendship with Kristian Rix, POOL’s CXO, goes back many years. Kristian’s expertise lies in design and digital product development, with past experience ranging from building startups from scratch to advising large international clients such as Estée Lauder and Hilton Worldwide.
The two Berliners by choice had long been bouncing innovative ideas off each other and hatching out a plan for a joint business. They agreed that their goal was to create something meaningful. Something that could truly make a difference in the fashion world and that would bring about a shift in consumers’ thinking.
POOL’s future plans: To open stores and branches in all the major cities of the world – London, Paris, Milan, Copenhagen – and to utilise the high-fashion resources that each country has to offer. This would also allow their members to travel light. They could pre-select their outfits, which would then be ready and waiting for them at their destination. It would also give them the opportunity to get to know new designers in new cities. Berliners benefit from early access: they can sign up on Instagram or on the POOL website. We wish POOL all the best! // Uta Gruenberger