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Sustainable Model of Fashion Waste Repairing & Re-pairing Linen Rentals

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The Indian ethnic wear market, currently at INR1.84 trillion, discards approximately 99% of purchases within six months. In fact, rental choices is aiding in reduction of 92 million tonnes of clothing waste produced annually, says Aanchal Saini, CEO, Flyrobe and Founder, RENT IT BAE, one of the leading supplier of fashion rentals in India.

Each rental saves 24,000 litres of water, contributing to the conservation of 6.892 billion litres annually. With user support, Flyrobe has prevented the production of 500,000 garments in over eight years. Over 6,000 people have rented their owned products via Flyrobe, which is aiming for a market share of about Rs400 crores.

Could you describe the specific recycling processes to repurpose linen waste effectively?

Fashion brands employ a C2C (Customer-to-Customer) model wherein existing garments are sourced from users and incorporated into the rental cycle. This approach allows users to monetize their owned products by renting them out, contributing to a circular economy while providing financial benefits to both parties involved.

Regarding Fashion Waste, the solution could be threefold — three steps Rent, Re-wear or Repair. The focus today is more on Rental as it resonates with Indian users.

Aanchal Saini

Flyrobe’s user demographic has shifted from the aspirational class to millennials. Today’s users can afford to buy but opt to rent to save money and the planet.

Rental companies strive to increase the longevity of products by maximizing their rental cycles. This involves efficiently churning the products through numerous rental cycles, thereby prolonging their usefulness and reducing overall waste.

Once a product has completed its rental cycles, the next step involves extensive repair and re-pair mechanisms to salvage fit parts. These salvaged parts are then reused to create new products, effectively minimizing waste and promoting circularity within the fashion industry.

Having said this, the Indian user is price sensitive, and this has to be kept in mind while building a model. Some of the determining factors include cost, awareness & importance, knowhows, and ease of renting.

Are there any notable initiatives or collaborations within the fashion industry aimed at improving linen waste recycling practices?

•     Thrifting Trend: Supported by celebrities and influencers, the thrifting movement encourages consumers to buy pre-owned clothing, reducing the demand for new linen garments and diverting textiles from landfills.

•     Repair Sections: Many Fashion brands now offer repair services to extend garment lifespan, reducing disposal and promoting sustainable fashion consumption.

•     Rental Revolution: Driven by millennials and Gen Z, the rental fashion market is surging in India. Embracing rental models for affordability, variety, and sustainability, directly reduces linen waste through multiple garment rental cycles.

How do you see the future of linen waste recycling in the Indian fashion industry, and what steps are being taken to enhance sustainability in this regard?

In consideration of the widespread availability of inexpensive Western garments in India, focusing on the ethnic wear segment could prove to be a significant game-changer. For a business to thrive in India, profitability must go hand in hand with serving a meaningful cause. As pioneers in the Indian ethnic rental space, we have witnessed substantial changes over the last decade. By aligning with the sustainability narrative, our business has not only made profits but also grown.

Our success over the past decade can be attributed to two key factors: educating users about the benefits of rentals, particularly in saving money — an essential consideration given the price sensitivity of Indian consumers — and highlighting the environmental impact of their choices. Our motto, ‘buy the basic and rent the iconic’, has garnered significant attention, gaining ground with consumers.

For other industries such as repair and re-use, government involvement is crucial. Subsidies provided by the government can enable businesses to offer sustainable products at prices competitive with fast-fashion items. Government participation can also accelerate awareness initiatives, facilitating a smoother transition towards sustainability.

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