The Interview: Hasna Kourda, Founder, Save Your Wardrobe
Hasna Kourda founded the British-based Save Your Wardrobe app in 2020 to promote circular fashion. The business recently received £2.52 million ($3 million) in seed funding to expand into Europe.
The inspiration for the app came from Kourda's upbringing in Tunisia, North Africa. Her grandmother had a zero-waste policy, continually repurposing and remaking textiles, such as turning used evening dresses into rugs.
Kourda later came to realise that her grandmother was actually partaking in circular fashion, inspiring her to create an application that offers an ecosystem of services to increase the longevity and sustainability of consumer's wardrobes, from dry cleaning and repairs to donations.
TheIndustry.fashion spoke to Hasna Kourda about the concept of circular fashion, her future plans for the app, what makes it different to those in the market already, and its recently acquired seed funding.
What was your vision for the app when you first launched?
Growing up in Tunisia my family instilled the concept of a circular economy in me from an early age. We always made sure nothing went to waste, even when an item’s initial purpose was fulfilled, a second one was found. There is life after life in our culture that is inherently circular.
This was in stark contrast to what I experienced once I’d moved to London. I realised just how different the lifestyle was from Tunisia - growing increasingly concerned about the throwaway culture that was thriving, especially across the fashion industry.
When I dug a little deeper, I realised just how disconnected people were from the contents of their wardrobe, and how the items in it were made and that’s how the concept of Save Your Wardrobe came about. It's a problem we think we might be able to fix – helping customers make the right purchases and the right decisions for the environment.
How has your vision developed since conception?
When we first started working on Save Your Wardrobe, there was little to no discussion on the benefits of care and repair or circular business models. The lack of understanding meant that many thought these business models were infeasible.
This gave us our first step when founding the business, we needed to educate consumers and businesses on the circular economy’s role in business. The more we shed light on this, the more we were able to encourage brands to take responsibility for providing sustainable solutions for the garments they were producing.
When did you realise your grandmother was participating in circular fashion?
My grandmother used to repurpose old garments into the most exquisite carpet, known as a kilim. The finished kilim would be used to keep the floors cool when the temperatures soared in summer. It was beautiful to experience the act of taking something no longer in use and transforming it by giving it a second life and new function.
Seeing her do this from such a young age meant that as I grew up, I was always considerate of my purchases and the impact they may have.
Why is repairing clothing key to working towards a sustainable fashion future?
Creating a solid repair infrastructure is vital to a sustainable fashion future as it helps to extend the lifeline of garments purchased. People are over-consuming in a short period of time. For me, repair is the most important phase in the circular economy as it supports garment lifetime extension, which can support consumption reduction and help to keep garments out of landfills, extending the lifeline of each garment.
At Save Your Wardrobe, we are playing our part in helping consumers to save the planet one repair at a time. By supporting the move from a linear to a circular system, we are making it simple and convenient to participate with our pioneering and practical solution.
What changes have you seen in the fashion industry since establishing the user-friendly app?
We officially launched the Save Your Wardrobe app in 2020... but our initial vision and prototype built prior to that is quite a testament to how strong our vision is. Enabling sustainability through technology is an approach that is being adopted more and more widely by brands and retailers to achieve their goals.
The speed at which the industry is moving forward with this sort of technology and circular solutions is incredibly exciting, in the way we envisioned it at the inception of SYW.
Out of your key categories – repairs, alterations, dry cleaning, rental, and donations – what is the most popular, and to what extent?
Out of all the services available to book through the app, repairs and alterations are our top two most used categories. Increasingly we’re seeing consumers looking at how to breathe a new lease of life into pre-loved items, a sure sign that sustainability is front of mind.
We’ve recently launched two new categories, upcycling and customisation, so we can continue to support our users in participating in the circular economy.
Do you find that consumers are more likely to opt for aftercare and repairs with high-end or high-street garments?
We have the philosophy that whilst not all clothes are made equally, they must be treated as such.
I’m delighted to see consumers opting for aftercare services for both high-end and high-street items alike. We believe everything can and should be repaired and cared for, regardless of its price point.
Can you tell us about your work with the online retailer Zalando and how that relationship has been built?
We collaborated with Zalando to launch their Care & Repair initiative, taking our original B2C model and realigning its technological skeleton specifically for their business. The fully customised platform connects to an interactive digital booking system for post-purchase services directly to Zalando’s e-commerce site, supporting its sustainability target to extend the life of at least 50 million fashion products by 2023.
Our own mission has always been to make clothes last as long as possible, and for this opportunity to be available to as many consumers as possible. Through this partnership, we were able to expand our aftercare services across the German market.
What are your plans for the £2.525 million in seed funding you recently secured?
This investment round marks an incredibly exciting time for us. Technology is at the forefront of our business and this investment allows us to really deliver on our mission to be pioneers in the circular fashion movement with our practical aftercare solution for brands.
We’re planning to use the funding to scale our B2B offering, build our domestic operation, expand into Europe with a focus on Germany and France, as well as grow our product and technology teams.
Why is it important that fast fashion’s sustainability efforts need to start with the production phase?
In order for sustainability efforts to have an impact, businesses must consider the product’s entire life cycle at the earliest phase. At the moment most retailers are using a linear model focused on extracting, producing, and disposing of resources. For things to change and be more sustainable, businesses must develop standards and practices for designing garments that can be easily reused or recycled.
How do you see the future of circular fashion progressing?
I’m hoping we’ll see it implemented on a large scale, across the fashion industry. It’s currently presented with a plethora of tools to support real systemic change from technological advances and infrastructural improvements to shifting consumer preferences. Not to mention the new circular design practices, and regulatory pressure from organisations and governments.
I’m hoping that brands will work to integrate these advances into business models in pursuit of bringing the circular economy to the mainstream. Putting people and the planet at the forefront of everything they do.