Can borrowing clothing serve our spiritual ideals?
One of my goals since the founding of Upcycler has been to set up a clothing lending business alongside the online store. (And now the little one Lainaamo has started operations!) The motives have been ecological reasons and a desire to offer customers alternatives to ownership.
This is how I was thinking about owning, buying and borrowing at the time of the launch of Lainaamo. What are our motives as consumers and will the sharing economy gain a large enough foothold in our daily lives?
We have a need to own
The human need for ownership begins to develop as a baby *. Even toddlers are starting to forcefully name things as their own and want exactly the stuff that is in someone else’s hands. Our culture has a built-in status associated with goods and we have been building our self-image around ownership from an early age. So is it possible to borrow to serve our internal need for ownership, or is it just enough for us?
The "cones" of one's own life
We have already gone so far in our desire for ownership that it is no longer enough to have goods, and there are enough of them. There is also a constant need for more. And that is very understandable now. For example, we in Finland are not very far away from the times when no one had much, the livelihood was tight and everything usable had to be kept. In this way, we still look forward to everything we can get.
In some contradictory ways, however, the goods don’t always serve us as we hope. Buying is fun and raising your standard of living is rewarding. However, the goods also cause us anxiety, obligations, and headaches. It is liberating to empty the cabinets and get rid of the extra. Life seems to be better controlled when goods don’t take up too much of our living space.
As for the others above
Growing status backed by goods is deep within us and few are immune to these needs. However, we basically do not want exactly the stuff, but what others have. It is easy for us to focus that need on visible and measurable assets.
Perhaps at this time we are already ready for the status we seek to no longer be related to ownership, but even vice versa. We see in the magazines stories of people who have moved to live in a van or boat. These stories are fascinated by independence and self-reliance, and perhaps precisely by the fact that someone is so shamelessly happy without owning anything but the basics.
A difficult requirement for commitment
There is also a lot of fast-paced and short-lived in our time. In the world of fashion, we should still be able to make long-lasting, ecological choices right now. However, long-term choices can be difficult when there are deadlines and co-determination in life. This contradiction can be distressing when the genuine desire would be to make lifestyles more sustainable.
New ideals of the sharing economy
Ecology is probably the most important value of clothing lenders and alleviates our climate anxiety through concrete measures. Perhaps, however, Loan Companies also serve our other ideals: freedom, independence and good governance.
We can borrow an outfit suitable for a variety of situations and show up as a person of our ideals without spending a fortune suffering from crowded closets. At the same time, it is not necessary to completely give up variation and always keep only the same clothes in the name of ecology.
The sharing economy makes sense in many ways, it is not about denying it. However, there is something very personal about clothes. We carry them close to our skin and at the same time they tell us something about other people. Do we have to share our clothes? It requires getting used to, but it certainly also brings relief; after the party, pack the dress in a return package instead of a laundry trip. Toddlers hardly want every item they catch for their own forever. The most important thing is good moments.
* (Science 06/2020)