Suzanne Smulders second from the left, with her LENA Library colleagues.

Get your dream wardrobe at the library, update it whenever you want

LENA is the library that lends you clothes instead of books. Co-founder Suzanne Smulders shares LENA's journey.

“Did you know that in the Netherlands, 240 million kilos of textiles get thrown away every year? Seventy per cent ends up as garbage, just like that. While this occurs at the production side of the chain, consequences for people and the planet are serious.

We started asking ourselves some questions: How can we wear beautiful clothing, but not at the expense of people and the environment? How can get to pick and choose, but say no to bulging wardrobes and fast fashion? How can we enjoy the feeling of new without having to possess everything?

That is how we came up with fashion library LENA, the first and only fashion library in the Netherlands. A place where you can borrow clothing with a monthly subscription. You pick something from our library, borrow it for as long as you want, return it and then pick something new.

Our collection is carefully put-together, with style and quality as our guidelines. We combine high quality vintage items with upcoming young designers and brands with a strong vision on sustainability.

« How can we enjoy the feeling of new without having to possess everything? »

We started working on the idea late in 2013, and spent about a year on research, development, writing our business plan and testing the concept with a three month pilot. In December 2014 we officially launched our library in Amsterdam, at the Westerstraat. It’s amazing how much we have learnt since then, and we are continuously learning, testing and developing, together with our community.

By introducing a borrowing system as a new business model we see different opportunities for the future. Focus shifts from ‘ownership’ to ‘shared access’. Consumers have access to a wide choice of pieces, giving them the chance to save money and experiment with style – without piling up excessive amounts of textiles that end up as waste. High-quality items are important for the borrowing system, which is why we partner up with brands carefully overseeing their supply chains. This results in a satisfied customer, less pressure in the chain, less waste and use of toxic chemicals, higher-quality garments and the preservation of craftsmanship. A win-win situation.

We started our first physical library in Amsterdam, but the goal is to go global. The model is easy to scale and can be applied on every segment of fashion, eg. children’s or men’s wear, and even beyond that. We believe sharing is the future!”

Suzanne Smulders, co-founder of LENA the fashion library
Visit LENA the fashion library here

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