In 2022, many of the products we use and the processes we use are transitioning to a circular economy. The Ellen McArthur Foundation defines a circular economy as a transformation in the way we manage resources, the way we make and use products, and what we do with the materials afterwards instead of the traditional take-make-waste way of consuming goods.
The fashion industry has come under scrutiny as a high-impact industry for its non-circular practices, from promoting buying seasonal, short-term clothing that is discarded afterwards to the use of unsustainable shipping and packaging.
A business in the fashion industry that is doing things a little differently is Designer Wardrobe. Founded in 2012 by Donielle Brooke and Aidan Bartlett, the New Zealand-based online platform has a circular business model that allows members to rent designer pieces for a special event or to shop or sell pre-loved pieces for a fraction of the retail cost.
The vision is to make designer fashion more accessible to everyone from all walks of life while minimizing the impact of Designer Wardrobe's processes along the way.
“We’re excited to be doing our part for the planet by providing an alternative way to enjoy fashion,” co-founder and creative director Donielle Brooke says.
“Sustainability is something that has always been close to our hearts, so it’s something we talk about across all of our channels, at every opportunity. We know there’s always room to grow, change and improve here, so we’re doing lots of work behind the scenes with the help of the amazing sustainability consultants at GoWell.”
Some of the steps Designer Wardrobe has taken on the sustainability front beyond its core business model include using reusable mailer bags, working with a dry cleaning partner that uses gentle, sustainable washing practices, and now, wrapping its clothing rentals in a custom newsletter created with noissue’s Compostable Tissue Paper.
“With the tissue paper being wrapped around every rental order, we saw it as an amazing opportunity to share more about Designer Wardrobe, from the steps we're taking toward circularity to our beautiful members tagging us on Instagram,” Donielle says. “It felt like an effortless way to connect with our community.”
Unboxing the unboxing: What it feels like to receive a Designer Wardrobe rental
“Every rental arrives in one of our custom-made, branded reusable courier bags, freshly steamed and lovingly wrapped in our beautiful new noissue Tissue Paper. They’re received by an excited customer, who’s busy prepping and pampering for their special event. Our goal is to provide a seamless experience, where our members can head out, wearing their dream dress and looking and feeling their absolute best. We love being a part of our life’s special moments with our wonderful members.”
Bridging the Physical With the Digital
The tissue paper newsletter also features an interactive crossword and a dynamic QR code linking through to Designer Wardrobe’s microsite, where customers can find out more about the brand’s sustainability story, shop an ex-rental or local designers edit, easily access Designer Wardrobe’s Instagram account, and more.
Donielle says the QR code and microsite technology provided the opportunity to add more context and information for customers on their processes, promote helpful links to their website and bring the tissue paper design to life in digital layout.
“We found the process of using QR and microsites super straightforward, we wanted to play with the relation between the print and digital design space so it was a fun process bringing colour and movement into the layout,” she says.
“The flexibility that a dynamic QR code and a microsite offer in relation to a print design is really useful. We can update the site at any time and keep our members in the know on our latest offers and updates.”
Seeing as Designer Wardrobe has recently expanded from women’s clothing into pre-loved homewares and children’s clothing on its online marketplace, the flexibility of the microsite allows the business to keep customers informed of these updates, as well as their circularity journey.
“We’re keeping our members in the loop with what we’re working on behind the scenes and how we’re doing our part to contribute to the much-needed shift towards circularity in fashion,” Donielle says. “We look forward to incorporating more of these into our communications in the future. As an online-only business, we find they’re an effective and dynamic way of connecting with our customers.”