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This Founder’s Startup Has Saved the Fashion Industry Over 2 Million Gallons of Water

This Founder’s Startup Has Saved the Fashion Industry Over 2 Million Gallons of Water

Emily Dao
Alexandra Shadrow, Founder of Relovv

The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world. Especially with the popularization of fast fashion, where clothes are cheaply made and consequently thrown out after minimal use, the environment is taking a serious hit from clothing manufacturing. A 2017 study discovered that in 2015, 79 billion cubic meters of water were used by the fashion industry, enough to fill 32 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. Though companies like Nike, Adidas, and H&M have taken stabs at sustainability, consumers seem to be shifting to a different approach in addressing this environmental crisis: thrifting. Among Poshmark and other formidable competitors in the digital thrifting market, Relovv, founded by entrepreneur Alexandra Shadrow, looks to show fashion can be done sustainably.

What is Relovv?

Relovv describes itself as “the dating app for your closet.” Basically, it serves as an online marketplace for members to buy and sell pre-owned, or “pre-lovved,” clothes. Just like a typical dating app, buyers can add items they like with a simple swipe to the right. The app also acts as a platform for curation where members can get paid to style others. When a Relovv user repost or “relovvs” an item and a vendor subsequently sells off their profile, that user will earn a commission paid for by the company. 

How Relovv works 

Relovv
A snapshot of the Relovv app, courtesy of Relovv.

With the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning, Relovv uses an algorithm to pair buyers with pre-owned, or “pre-lovved,” clothing. To find the perfect fit for users, Relovv members must complete a style quiz after joining the app, which takes into account everything from users’ body type, budget, and skin tone, to their favorite brands. After completing the quiz, the data is then input into the app’s algorithm to match buyers to the items they desire. Relovv’s software makes clothing more than 40% likely to sell. Shadrow expects that number to grow as Relovv’s technology improves. 

What is Relovv’s environmental impact? 

Every time a piece of clothing is purchased and reused, it reduces the item’s carbon footprint by 82%. Similar to other resale vendors, it is Relovv’s to encourage a more rotational—and therefore more sustainable—fashion cycle, rather than an accrual one. 

“Relovv’s environmental impact is truly limitless,” Shadrow said in an email. 

Shadrow said in just one week on Relovv, the company reported saving 2,450,000 gallons of water and 1,700 pounds of clothing — just because users decided to opt resale rather than retail for at least one purchase. Even buying one item secondhand can save 500 gallons of water, or 4 months of drinking water. In less than one year, the company was able to gain almost 100,000 members. Shadrow says they expect those numbers to swell 12 times that amount when the company reaches 1 million members. 

Fitting the trends 

Secondhand shopping has been growing increasingly more popular, and equally more enticing as studies continue to surface about the degradation of the environment. 

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Today, the resale market is worth more than $24 billion, with an estimated growth of $51 billion by 2023. The cause for this huge disruption in the fashion industry is largely due to the efforts of millennials and Gen Z members, who are 2.5 times more likely to purchase secondhand items faster than any other age group.

Currently, Relovv is backed by a collection of influencers, including TV host, fashion journalist, and author Louise Roe, as well as journalist and former Bachelor contestant Ashley Iaconetti Haibon. Together, both women amass nearly 2 million followers on Instagram. 

As Relovv continues to grow its user base, it hopes to continue making a material impact on combating the climate crisis and reducing the negative environmental ramifications that are typically associated with fast fashion. Relovv’s ongoing rise in popularity is proof that it’s possible for consumers and companies to adapt to environmental concerns within the fashion industry. Something as simple as buying a pre-owned shirt might not seem like a big deal, but Relovv’s impact just goes to show that saving the world doesn’t mean readjusting your whole life. Even the smallest changes can have serious implications on the preservation of the environment.

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