SVA / Sustainability


From buying to borrowing - The over consumption of clothing

The fashion industry is now the second most polluting industry in the world, only after oil and 98% of garment workers do not make a living wage.

Context & Challenge

The fashion industry and the way we consume clothes has an immense impact on the environment. Each year 150 billion items of clothing are produced. Today Americans purchase fives times the amount of clothing they did in 1980. Fast fashion retailers, who have really shifted the whole fashion industry, are stores that have incredibly high turnover, introducing low quality clothes every week and they have us believing we can’t wear the same thing twice. The overconsumption of fast fashion is what we set out to address. We want to shit that behavior towards a sustainable way.

Define & prototype

Target Audience
We looked at who those retailers were mainly targeting, college-age women. We continued our user research, completing surveys and in-depth interviews with this audience. After analysis, we identified that there are two ways they consume clothes, by buying and by sharing. We learned that sharing clothes offers them the same value that they get from fast fashion but also serves our goal of reducing the demand for new items to be bought.

Intervention & Prototypes
Sharing not only helps to reduce the number of new items needed, but for college girls sharing clothes is incredibly beneficial as it allows to them try new styles and save money. However, buying has become incredibly easy and efficient. You can shop from your Instagram or get a new dress delivered in an hour. S o what if we had a system to make sharing clothes easier, more efficient, and attractive, so that borrowing was the go­to decision when you wanted to wear something new?

We believe that starting with sororities as early adopters to be the best way forward since they already have this behavior, are looking for systems to share clothes, and have built in national networks which will help us to scale. To test the concept, we’ve been working with a group of girls in the Zeta sorority at NYU. We used a prototype site that had the core functionalities that helped us to get some really valuable feedback.


We developed the concept of Clo, the clothing sharing app. Users can find their friends, upload items to their digital closets, they can scroll to see what their friends have and they can request to borrow from their networks, they can find the perfect outfit for a formal event or for an upcoming job interview. College girls are currently searching for ways to make sharing easier but don’t have any real solutions. Most organize sharing by texting with their friends, asking them to send them pictures of what they could borrow, some sororities have sharing excel spreadsheets or Facebook groups.


Hannah Phang, Bruno Silva, Yinman Guo, Alex Wu