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Categories: CultureProfile
| On 4 months ago

Up Close With 3 Renowned S’pore Businesses Making Efforts Towards Sustainability

Ox Street, Carousell and Style Theory—these names are ubiquitous. We have seen them via mobile applications, their online store, or through advertisements on social media platforms. As privileged consumers, we approach them with different considerations—buying exclusive, authentic and unworn sneakers through Ox Street, cashing out on excess apparel by selling them on Carousell, or owning an endless supply of quality wardrobe with a rental service such as Style Theory.

In some ways, these business are taking a step in the right direction by embracing practices that embody the spirit of Reusing, Reducing, and Recycling. It starts small, really, and often in measures that we tend to miss due to its perceived insignificance. But at the end of the day, what these three business teach us is that we don’t have to create more in our quest to look good or own worldly necessities.

In that spirit, we spoke to the three founders of these businesses—Gijs Verheijke from Ox Street, Marcus Tan from Carousell and Raena Lim from Style Theory—all entrepreneurs in their own rights, to share with us their Company’s journey from intentions, business objectives, and what the future holds for them.


1. Ox Street — Gijs Verheijke

Ox Street is an online marketplace to buy and sell sneakers and streetwear. Operating all across South East Asia, Ox Street connects buyers and sellers in the second-hand market for luxury fashion, and guarantees the authenticity of all products sold through the platform. Today, we speak with founder Gijs Verheijke about the trend away from fast fashion and toward resale. A space where Ox Street is one of the leading players.

By connecting and integrating multiple markets in our network, we aim to be a ‘logistics avoidance’ company through matching local demand with local supply.

What was your primary intention when you started the company?

Our primary mission is to build a new platform to bridge the diverse sneaker cultures in Southeast Asia. The future of fashion revolves around sneakers, and resale is booming. We saw an opportunity to build a platform that millennials and Gen-Z sneakerheads can trust as their primary source to discover, buy, and sell fashion.

What are your thoughts and feelings about how your business approaches the concept of sustainability?

As a surfer and diver, I have had first-hand encounters with plastic pollution in oceans and the disappearance of coral reefs due to global warming. The negative impacts are destructive and irreversible. Ox Street is part of the emerging ‘slow fashion’ movement, meaning a trend away from buying lots of low quality clothes in favour of fewer, higher quality items. By enabling people to resell their items again after using them for a while, we help extend the life-cycle of fashion.

What does your future plans in the sustainable arena look like?

Our long term goal is to be a sustainable fashion company. However, the unavoidable truth is that we are still in the business of fashion—which is a significant global plastic pollution contributor. Of course by operating in the resale market, we are at least not creating more sneakers, so that’s a good start. Besides that, there are a couple of things we are already doing, and are planning to do to help reduce our own environmental footprint.

For example, we recycle shipping boxes and try to minimize plastic use in our packaging. Long term, in the sneaker resale market, there is a lot of unnecessary shipping of shoes around the world. By connecting and integrating multiple markets in our network, we aim to be a ‘logistics avoidance’ company through matching local demand with local supply.

2) Carousell — Marcus Tan

Carousell—our go-to second-hand buy-and-sell platform—provides an online marketplace for new and secondhand goods in over seven network countries. Anyone who has an account can be a buyer and a seller and selling is done with three simple steps—snap, post and chat away!

We are still less one percent done, and we are excited to continue working towards inspiring a lifestyle where secondhand is the first choice.

What was your primary intention when you started the company?

After spending a year in Silicon Valley, we fell in love with the idea of using technology to solve problems and, at the same time, creating an impact. Back in Singapore, we have so many underutilised items and that is a common problem. Thus, this birthed the idea of a mobile-first marketplace that is accessible and easy to use.

What are your thoughts and feelings about how your business approaches the concept of sustainability?

Over-consumption of natural resources and waste production are not sustainable and destructive to the environment. Carousell sees this as an incredible opportunity to help individuals declutter through selling their pre-loved items, and finding new homes for their ‘excess’ things.

Underused or unused items can find a new lease of life with new owners, which in turn helps to reduce waste generated from discarding items—a win-win situation for everyone.

How have your business objectives evolved over the years?

We started with a purpose to address and solve a global problem of overconsumption and excess. Through the years, we have built amazing communities all across the region. We have seen users turn to the Carousell community to find vintage collectibles. Today, Carousell is a playground for many creative up-cyclists, who hunt for day-to-day objects and transform them into products with renewed purposes.

What does your future plans in the sustainable arena look like?

Carousell began with an early focus on the fashion sector. For 2020, we want to pay close attention to this category. The global fast-fashion economy has crippling ripple effects on the environment, and we want to leverage our platform to change deep-seated consumption habits and behaviours in the long-term. We are still less one percent done, and we are excited to continue working towards inspiring a lifestyle where secondhand is the first choice.

3) Style Theory — Raena Lim

Style Theory provides fashion rental services at a monthly subscription fee. Subscribers can rent a dress from over 40,000 designer outfits and be occasion-ready. Apart from the unlimited style options, Style Theory also provides free dry cleaning and free express delivery to the doorstep.

It’s not about buying less, but choosing well and renting smart.

What was your primary intention when you started the company?

It started with a common complaint of having ‘nothing to wear even with a wardrobe full of clothes’. With this false sense of lack, we often succumb to the temptation of buying more clothes. This motivated us to create an infinite wardrobe whilst removing the hassle of maintaining designer outfits, keeping up with new fashion trends, and balancing the desire to wear more and impracticality of owning everything.

What are your thoughts and feelings about how your business approaches the concept of sustainability?

It is very rewarding when our subscribers share how fashion rental has improved their lives; saved wardrobe space, dressed up without splurging, saved time on laundry, and most importantly, transformed their consumption habits.

How have your business objectives evolved?

Operationally, we have improved our shipping process to be more eco-friendly. For example, subscribers can choose to go wrapper-free in their boxes. This has saved us at least 36,000 sheets of paper a year. Moreover, we have adopted garment folder bags instead of boxes. These bags are reusable, portable, and a lot more compact!

What does your future plans in the sustainable arena look like?

Sustainability has been a buzzword of late, but it has always been the heart of our business. We want to improve fashion consumption patterns whilst promoting a financially sustainable lifestyle and reducing wastage. It’s not about buying less, but choosing well and renting smart.


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