Recently I sat down with Hasna Kourda who is the Founder of Save Your Wardrobe. The app has the potential to save us all time, money and impact our sustainability. Here’s our conversation over a coffee. If you’d like to hear Hasna live come along to ‘Can technology make the fashion industry more sustainable?’ on Wednesday 31st October at the Impact Hub in London’s Kings Cross.
Can you tell us a bit about Save Your Wardrobe?
Save Your Wardrobe is a digital wardrobe management app. We build your digital wardrobe through receipts in your emails or online retailer accounts. You can take a picture of your paper receipt and we can recognise the items you bought in-store. We also use computer vision. So, for example, your skirt, we’d be able to say that it’s a skirt, what length it is and also that it’s pleated. As there are a lot of colours we will say that there is a pattern and that it’s mostly white. These are the basic ways we can digitise the wardrobe.
From then on we help you make the most of what you have. We help you style, repair, alter and customise or even sell your clothes. There is a study that suggests that we only wear 20% of our wardrobe. And actually, in London it is 15%. So there’s a big opportunity to learn about what we have and how we can make the most of it.
To help you fall back in love with the items you haven’t worn in a while we can give you insights into what is performing on social media. For example, by letting you know that a handbag you also own has been liked 300 times recently. It’s popular and would you like ideas on how to style it? These kinds of insights on the performance of your wardrobe will help you rethink about what you haven’t worn. Alternatively, we can let you know how much your handbag is worth on the second-hand market so you can sell it if you haven’t used it for a while.
So by using in a very ethical way the data (anonymously, not creepily!) we can also tell brands what happens to their items once they are in the market. Data that’s not just based on the performance figures – sales numbers, KPIs, etc. We can let them know that this product just has a three-month lifespan. Brands can start to think whether they want to continue to produce that item or find a way to extend the lifespan. Brands also want to embrace sustainability because it’s important for their business and also because of the current trend to be more mindful.
We believe that we can disrupt fashion consumption by taking a step back and thinking “what do I already have in my wardrobe?” and “how can I put a bit of mindfulness into how I get dressed in the morning without compromising on my look or the impact I want to have?” We use AI to automate those tasks in the morning when it can be stressful if you have an important event that day and you want to look your best. And using these tools to bring sustainability to a larger public and making it mainstream. Possibly without people even knowing that they now have a more sustainable lifestyle.
How long will it take someone to build their existing wardrobe into the app?
If you link your email address, the system will find your online receipts and it will be instant. Then you can take a picture of the things you have bought in stores. I always use the example of Facebook. You don’t need to connect with all of your friends in one go to be able to use Facebook. You can still get value out of it. So it’s something you can build up progressively. Or each season, whenever you declutter your wardrobe, take a picture of everything you want to keep. It’s up to you as a user but we want to be able to help you from day one even if you don’t have all of your wardrobe on the app.
Why do you decide to focus on this particular part of sustainability around adding value to what’s already in your wardrobe?
I worked for a high-end brand where the disposable income of those customers was very high. I was shocked to see how people shopped – they buy without knowing what they already have. I remember a lady coming three times to the store within one week. She was just visiting London and loved the store and the brand. The second time she came she wanted to buy the exact same shirt, same size, same colour, that she had bought on her first visit. And I told her “you don’t need that. You’ve already bought it. It goes with so many clothes, you don’t need another one!” And, she said “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.” And that’s when I thought “Ok, I need to do something.”
I turned to our CTO and asked him “How can we use tech to make people aware of what they have and make the shopping experience better?”
If I had tricked the shopper and made her buy the same shirt she would have realised as soon as she got home and she wouldn’t have come back a third time. The solution can benefit both consumers and brands.
So far, what has been the biggest hurdle?
The problem of a digital wardrobe is that it has been iterated before and every time we pitched we were told: “That’s already been done and it won’t succeed.”
However, and I don’t mean to brag, we pitched our idea last year to the head of innovation agency at the London College of Fashion. They said that it was the first time that the idea of digital wardrobe had been pitched to them in a full way taking into account how to digitise wardrobes, the value and the platform that is created behind. That is a great endorsement and validation for us that we are not doing the same but we are using that idea of digital wardrobe to bring value to the user.
Tell us more about the eco-system around Save Your Wardrobe.
After adding technology to the post-purchase journey, we have realised that it would be even more enriching to focus on the after sell life; what happens once you are enjoying your purchase? So, let’s say someone who has bought a bag, they love it, they will repair it maybe add a fancy keyring and customise it. That means that they are super loyal to the brand. It’s a centrepiece of their collection. Whereas, when another shopper bought a trendy top, it ended up in the second-hand market quite quickly meaning that they are more sensitive to trends and what’s happening in social media. The second shopper is less loyal to the brand and less loyal to the style. In other words a completely different target from the person who takes care of her bag and adds a personal touch. Making a difference between those two behaviours for brands and for us is invaluable.
When we think about a cluster of users that has the same taste, we will be able to help them collaborate on style. So let’s say that you and I have a big proportion of our wardrobe that is the same. The algorithm will suggest your skirt to me, and there is a high chance that I would buy it. It’s called peer-to-peer recommendation. It’s anonymous (we won’t share names of individuals) but we will be able to know that this group of people really love the same things. How can we help them find creative ways to use their existing wardrobe. And you will be able to use your style to inspire someone else.
This is how we want to use the data side and not advertising which I don’t believe anymore. I hate advertising and I think I’m not the only one. And it’s not that effective when you target a group of 100 women where the demographics might be the same but the psychographics might be totally different. So, for example, my sister and I – we are both between 30 and 35, we live in big cities, we are both married, mums, we have the same level of education. On paper, we’re very similar. However, she’s a huge shopper, influenced by those around her, her style is continually evolving. Whereas I hate shopping, whenever I need to buy something I’m really reluctant to spend money. Whenever I need clothes, I go into my sister’s wardrobe. Or even my father’s wardrobe. He has a great collection. So my sister and I have similar demographics but different behaviours. There is an amazing opportunity to use data in a more meaningful way which is mutually beneficial for both consumer and brand with neither party being taken advantage of.
How far along are you on this journey?
We registered last year. But I took advantage of my maternity leave to research the market and work out our competitive advantage. I first thought of the idea in 2015, we registered in 2017 and things got quicker from November last year. We’ve been through 3 incubators, we’ve been pitching to three worldwide conferences; one in Dubai, one in Copenhagen and one in London. And every time we validated either the B2B or B2C offering. As a start-up, it’s always trying to pivot and validate. There is no rule book. You need to figure out everything. The challenge, why we haven’t launched yet, is because the digital wardrobe has already been iterated several times. If you launch without a core value proposition, you can be dismissed easily because it’s been done before. And none of the predecessors have gone mainstream. And we’re trying to reach a wider audience.
That sounds exhausting. What do you do to relax?
I wish I did. At the moment it’s fast actually. Before this summer whenever I needed to relax I would send my kids to the nursery and I would take the day off. Have a long shower, with no interruptions, and have a stroll to visit the Design Museum. You never stop thinking about it when you’re an entrepreneur. But you can take a bit more chill time by taking inspiration. Opening your mind to other things and then you come back and you’re refuelled and see things differently. But this Summer my husband ruptured his achilles so now there’s not time to rest. But that’s life. And sometimes being an entrepreneur can be hard but also rewarding and you have to fuel on the periods of up because when it’s down it’s really down. When you reach milestones you have to celebrate them so that you are resilient and you can keep going.
What a positive note to end on. Hasna exudes passion and enthusiasm for the benefits that technology can bring particularly around sustainability. It was so refreshing to talk to someone who is working to combine all the different areas that fashion extends into – from the emotional element of dressing all the way through to how data is used – in a mindful way.
The next post will be an interview with Abbie Morris who is the Founder of Compare Ethics. Yes, another fab idea to help us shop more wisely, save time and be conscious of our sustainability impact.
In the meantime, click here to learn more about our upcoming event where both Hasna and Abbie will be speaking.