Hasna Kourda and Mehdi Doghri, the couple helping you make the most out of your wardrobe
It is fashion’s most complex dilemma: how does an industry, focused on perpetuating the new, stop creating wardrobes full of excess outfits? According to one survey, in Britain alone shoppers own £10 billion worth of clothes they do not wear. Replicate that across the Western world and you can begin to appreciate the scale of the problem…
Fortunately, some of our best, most radical and forward-thinking minds are on the case. Step forward entrepreneurs Hasna Kourda and Mehdi Doghri, the brains behind the digital clothes management app, Save Your Wardrobe. The husband and wife team have created a custom designed platform to help consumers make the most of the clothes they already own, thus reducing fashion waste.
Save Your Wardrobe doesn’t just help users remember and style their existing purchases but connects them to a range of services such as dry cleaning, selling, donation, repairing and alterations. Hasan explains that their purpose is to ‘connect users with service providers to help extend the life of garments.’
“I grew up in Tunisia, in a family where circular economy and zero-waste were deeply-rooted. Nothing ever goes to waste and everything has a purpose. If the first purpose is done, then you find a second one. And so, there’s life after life”
Inspiration came from Hasna’s grandmother, who used to repurpose exhausted old garments into the most exquisite carpet, know as a ‘kilim’. ‘I grew up in Tunisia, in a family where circular economy and zero-waste were deeply-rooted,’ Hasna recalls. ‘Nothing ever goes to waste and everything has a purpose and, if the first purpose is done, then you find a second one. And so, there’s life after life.’ The finished kilim would be used to keep the floors cool when the temperatures soared in summer.
When Hasna arrived in Europe, she was surprised by the culture of clothes-buying here: ‘I saw how people were shopping frenetically. They were buying lots and lots, and I was like, “Wow! This is crazy. They have so much…”’ Her understanding of the problem became even more intense when she moved to London and worked in retail. ‘I saw first-hand the consumption of our customers. One in particular, who bought £1,000 of clothes in one day and came back two days later to buy the exact same pieces, same colour, same size, same everything. When I asked her, “Why do you need those? You’ve already bought them?” She told me that she’d completely forgotten she’d purchased them.’
“I realised that people really are disconnected from the contents of their wardrobe. Here is a problem we might be able to fix – helping customers to make the right purchases and the right decisions.”
This was Hasna’s lightbulb moment. ‘I realised then that people really are disconnected from the contents of their wardrobe,’ she says. ‘I rushed home and told Mehdi the crazy story. I told him there’s a problem here we might be able to fix – helping customers to make the right purchases and the right decisions.’
The app works by instantly uploading a customer’s clothes from the receipts found in their emails and online shopping accounts. It’s also possible to upload photographs of specific garments. This creates a digital ecosystem which will help any user make the most of what they already own, whilst also helping them to make better, informed purchases in future. Essentially, it brings a sense of mindfulness to fast fashion and, if the eventual uptake is as widespread as Hasna and Mehdi hope, it will help make the whole industry more sustainable.
While Hasna has the inspiration, Mehdi has the financial knowledge needed to implement them. He explains how incredibly helpful their Tide account has been in building their business. With a background in finance, his first step when trying to find the right account was to visit a high street bank. There, he met, ‘an old-style type of banker who didn’t get anything about startups and didn’t get anything about what we were doing.’ There was a lot of bureaucracy involved, whereas, with Tide, everything was beautifully simple.
Mehdi explains further, ‘Tide was, to be honest, amazing for us because we could instantly open an account that same weekend. I had the sort code and account number immediately.’ Tide is also convenient for the couple’s business travel – crucial to anyone who runs an increasingly international outfit. ‘We were seeing the account overview as we spent and were able to manage the budget as we visited Copenhagen, Italy, Dubai. Our Tide card has travelled a lot!’
Initially, the partners spent no money on Save Your Wardrobe because they felt that this ‘forces you to be creative’. Mehdi explains that having a large injection of cash when starting out allows you to make snap decisions without fully planning ahead; ‘If you had the money, you could start straight away, thinking “I know what I need to build. Let’s get the developer. Let’s get the designer. Let’s build it…’ Instead, they sought out expert advice and opened up conversations with some of the most famous and illustrious names in fashion, meeting Matthew Drinkwater, Head of Innovation at the London College of Fashion – and José Neves, the CEO of Farfetch (thanks to his Dream Assembly program). These experts helped Hasna and Mehdi to quantify their idea and execute a thorough strategy.
The Save Your Wardrobe team are plotting nothing less than a wholesale revolution when it comes to how we view our clothes. Anyone concerned about saving the environment – whilst remaining stylish – will be excited to take a closer look.