There will always be challenges associated with running a successful business. Environmentally friendly businesses have the added challenge of repackaging and repurposing various items for a variety of applications. In fashion, this challenge can be increased even further due to the ever changing nature of trends and styles. In an attempt to gain a better understanding of the challenges repurposed and recycled products face The Environmental News Bulletin interviewed Renata Dunkle who is the owner of Repurposewear in Lakewood,Washington.
The motivation to become involved in environmentally friendly products can come from many sources. While following their passions some entrepreneurs find themselves creating environmentally friendly companies. The owner of Repurposewear is one of these people. Renata’s passion for clothing and fashion lead her to create Repurposewear. Her business gives her the opportunity to keep quality clothing items from being discarded, maintain evolvement in her community, and the opportunity to utilize her talent for fashion and design.
When it comes to whether Renata believes re-purposed clothing will come in vogue she simply says “fashion is a matter of attitude, not a function of what you have in your bank account.” Renata admits that the business of retailing re-purposed or preowned clothing items “…can be a bit of a challenge”, but that the key to her store’s success is “presentation”. Her business sense allows her to understand that customer experience is everything. She ensures that her store is clean, well-organized, and smells pleasant.
The challenge that most established fashion companies have with large scale re-purposing may be in the fact that they have little to no experience that arena. In other words, most companies stick to what they are familiar with. Also, companies like Repurposewear do not have the internal politics that may prevent established brands from experimenting with new methods of manufacturing, reselling, or repurposing clothing. This means that most of the change in our environmental and business practices will most likely have to begin at the local business level.
What can be done?...
There is no perfect solution to addressing the lack of focus and attention on re-purposed clothing and accessories. However one thing is true, to do nothing simply because large manufactures are not currently on board is foolhardy. Only when community retail companies begin to demonstrate the profitability of their operations will the larger, shareholder controlled, organizations invest capital. To this end, there should be a national professional re-purposing association that can certify the quality of a community store and/or its products. Each store would be able to display this certification for customers in their store and website. This association would thereby increase consumer confidence and therefore drive sales and community involvement.