SuperLooper - helping the planet by renting children's clothes
Charlotte Harding meets a woman behind a new sustainable baby clothing library
Any parent will know how many clothes you get through in the first two years of your child’s life.
Growth spurts, nappy leaks and just general wear and tear means clothes are sometimes only worn a couple of times. So what happens to the clothes?
“Did you know there is 183 million items of unused baby clothing is stored in UK cupboards?” Jenny Barrett, founder of social enterprise SuperLooper, said.
“That is enough for 250 items per newborn each year.”
Jenny is launching the Sussex-based SuperLooper in 2020.
The social enterprise is a clothing library where people pay a monthly subscription and rent baby or maternity clothing for between four to eight weeks.
Having previously worked in the fashion industry, Jenny initially started SuperNatural Organic kids and baby clothing in 2010, producing clothes made from organic cotton and cotton alternatives such as bamboo and modal (which is made from beech trees).
She said: “It got to the point and I thought does the world really need more clothes?
“I heard about the circle economy where the emphasis is placed on recycling and eliminating waste.”
She then discovered Vigga. Based in Denmark it offers people the opportunity to rent baby clothes.
“This got me thinking that it could be done, so with the help of the Sussex Innovation Centre I held focus groups with parents in Brighton to gauge the response and it was really good.”
And so the wheels were placed in motion.
Jenny is aiming to launch in February and says that she wants to do it slowly.
She added: “We will start in the Brighton area to see the best way of doing things before we roll it out elsewhere.
“We have already had interest from people in Burgess Hill, Reading and York.”
A key concern for Jenny is the business’s carbon footprint and how they will get the items out to people.
In Brighton they have held events where the items collected, and parents can meet up and chat.
“Being a new mum can be quite isolating so this has worked really well at helping to connect people, but as we grow I don’t know how that will work.
“The plan will be to connect with zero waste shops and health food shops to see if they can be a pick up or drop off point.”
Charity ClothesAid states that ‘350,000 tonnes, that’s around £140 million worth of used but still wearable clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year’, so Jenny’s aim is to help the climate by reducing the amount of textiles waste. At the moment Jenny and her team of Warriors are taking photos and listing a 1000 garments ready for the launch, having received a number of donations already.
She said: “We are also working with organic and Fairtrade children’s clothing company called Little Green Rascals who are sending us their samples and previous season clothes which has been fantastic.”
The plan was initially for SuperLooper to specialise in organic clothing.
“We have had some beautiful pieces and felt that if the product is good enough quality it didn’t matter where it was from.
“There is a dress from Tu (Sainsbury’s) that we all love.
“We have found that it gives parents the opportunity to try clothes and brands they usually might not be able to afford, while helping them reduce textile waste.”
Anything that is damaged will be dealt with sustainably including being sent to a company which shreds clothes for other purposes such as the flooring of playgrounds.
Jenny said: “If we can make a difference to buying habits and patterns then we know we’ll have taken action for our children’s future.”
As well as Sussex families, SuperLooper has had the support of Unltd, The Sussex Innovation Centre Nat West Accelerator Radical Engineers, and Bags of Support.
Jenny says the subscription will be £25 a month.