Swap app keeps fashion sustainable for teens

Paulina Bozek creates sustainable fashion app for teens

A sustainable fashion app for teens has been created by Paulina Bozek Pic: Jane McCallion

Shoreditch-based company Inensu has created a new Facebook application that aims to solve teenagers’ fashion woes, while encouraging them to think about ethical fashion.

The app, Closet Swap, commissioned by Channel 4 Education, enables users to upload and tag photos, build an online closet they can share, swap and customise with friends.

Today’s affordable clothes from high street retailers come at a cost to people and our planet. Workers producing clothes for chain stores often earn barely enough to live on. And in the desire to keep up with trends, thousands of clothes are being thrown away every year. Sustainable fashion is about addressing these issues.

Paulina Bozek, director of Inensu, said: “We wanted to make it both popular and authentic. We could have made a little game, but we wanted to make something that would influence behaviour properly.”

Getting teenagers to think about sustainability needed a tailored approach. Inensu brought in two sustainable fashion experts, Emma Davenport and Dawn Danby, to make sure they delivered an “authentic message”. Celebrating swapping clothes and personal style was key to giving the app appeal.

“Celebrate the fact that this jacket has been to Glastonbury five times. That’s cool. It’s got a history,” Bozek said.

“We didn’t want to preach to the converted. We didn’t want it to be so ethical that just the people who are already ethical are into, that’s why the angle on personal style is really important.”

Closet Swap is aimed at 14 to 19-year-olds, so its social elements had to contribute. She said: “You don’t gain points, only your clothes do. We like to say that the ultimate leaderboard is life. So who has the coolest jacket? That’s what matters to girls.”

This hook is also the reason why Closet Swap should not be confused with businesses such as Freecycle. “It’s not a public swapping site. We didn’t really want to open this up to strangers.”

Bozek, who is also responsible for SingStar, the multimillion-selling karaoke game, believes Closet Swap’s sustainability message is relevant to all industries.

“It’s about the real world, it’s about real people and there are real choices.”

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