By CASS MARRETT
Queenstowner Sarah Graham is fighting fast fashion one wardrobe at a time.
Her business awear — pronounced ‘aware’ — is a swapping service for clothes.
For a subscription price of $29.99 per month customers get rid of the clothes they don’t
want, Graham assesses, and, if necessary, repurposes them, issues tokens consistent with
each item’s value, then lists the items to awear.co.nz/swap for other customers to purchase with their tokens.
Despite the subscription cost, which Graham spends mostly on promotion and storage, she says awear is not currently turning a profit.
‘‘It’s mainly a social enterprise that has a lot of stuff in the pipeline, like the end game for
us as a business is to sort of be the anti-Vogue, if that makes sense,’’ Graham says.
Her main focus is bringing awareness to the damage fast fashion’s doing, and encouraging people to embrace a ‘‘circular wardrobe’’.
‘‘I just find that fashion itself is trapping a whole generation of young women, whether they’re a slave to look a particular way because of the influence of social media and fast fashion that way, or whether they are literally trapped, making and manufacturing clothes for next-to-nothing and in a place that may be unsafe,’’ Graham says.
Textile waste is ‘‘battling’’ with the oil industry and domesticated cattle for the ‘‘damage
it’s doing to the planet’’.
Graham says the benefits of swapping clothes instead of buying them mean people can
spend the money they save on brands that are ‘‘actually making a difference’’.
Eventually Graham hopes to add smaller, local, ethical and sustainable businesses to the
website and develop an ‘awear approval stamp’ for brands that meet awear’s standards for ethical fashion.
The business is almost perfectly geared for the unpredictability of Covid lockdowns because the service is contact-less.
‘‘People put their stuff outside [their] door by midday on a Sunday and your new stuff will
arrive by six o’clock,’’ Graham says.
Currently the service only operates in Queenstown, but plans are in the works to expand
it to Wānaka and Central Otago, soon.