Tash Liesner and Cleo Marcopoulos Aitken are co-founders of Style Rotate, a community-led rental fashion wardrobe. As the first of its kind locally, Style Rotate is carving a spot out in the market as one of the first successful rental platforms in SA’s circular fashion industry.
We caught up with Tash to hear more about the duo’s sustainable fashion venture:
“Cleo and I first met in 2013, as interns at a local fashion magazine. We clicked off the bat, sharing the same interests in fashion and sustainability. At the end of the internship, I fell into a graduate scheme at a national fashion retailer, working my way up from trainee buyer to retail buyer, while Cleo stayed in the magazine industry, eventually becoming a fashion director at a popular fashion publication.
While working as fashion director, Cleo did a short business course and was assigned with pitching a business idea to mock investors. Naturally, her interests had nudged her towards the sustainable fashion industry. In a world where trends were changing faster than ever, she recognised that our rate of buying needed to slow down. This is when Style Rotate was born.
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Based on a circular fashion model, Style Rotate grows and supports a community of garment lenders while eliminating
the need for one-time garment purchases, by building a community focused on rotating a single garment. Rental fashion!
The idea was new. It resonated with the right people, though. After five years in the buying industry for large fashion retailers, I shared the same concerns as Cleo. I, too, had opened my eyes to the “own, own, own, buy, buy, buy” culture treadmill that we were running on, and I wanted out.
In September 2019, we met and put our heads together on how we could bring a meaningful change to SA’s fashion community. About a month later, we were ready to launch. With a solid business model already in place thanks to Cleo, we set out to start building an organic community of sustainable fashion lovers renting their wardrobe.
The first mark on our checklist when reviewing a new garment is asking ourselves, “Do I love it enough to wear it 30 times, and will it withstand that many wears?” Many garments in today’s fast-fashion industry aren’t designed to be worn over 30 times. If it doesn’t pass the 30 wears test, we don’t buy into it. If it’s durable, high quality, makes you feel confident and comfortable in your skin, then we’re on board.
If you are looking for a particular style, we’ve got one to match just about any occasion. From timeless wedding wardrobes to cosy-casual fits and every LBD in between.
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Style Rotate is more than just a passion project to us; we’re paving the way towards an environmentally aware, evolved fashion community in South Africa. Each individual that hops on board by renting a garment instead of making a one-time purchase is one more person in support of a more sustainable fashion model that will get us further than fast fashion ever could.”
Feature Image: Style Rotate