Two chemistry graduates from Imperial College, Vivien Tang and Caroline Wood, have set up a sustainable fashion business – Clotho London. An online shop selling vintage and second hand clothing, customers can earn additional discounts when donating unwanted clothing to the company. The pair were named winners at Boris Johnson’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award, and are currently supported by retail accelerator Truestart.The duo met as lab partners during their studies, launching the shop on the day of their graduation ceremony.
To start off, the two co-founders set up a rudimentary landing page and roamed the streets of London with iPads signing up strangers to a trial run for a clothes exchange. Having gathered enough responses together for a pilot, the two then spent a week collecting clothes from customers using public transport. Vivien’s bedroom served as a makeshift photography studio during the early days, with a borrowed camera and their friends as models.
“There is a backlash against fast fashion – In the UK alone, our addiction to fast fashion means that over a million tonnes of new clothing enter the market each year as the same amount is discarded,” said Vivien. Clotho London has been operating for 9 months now, and has since relocated offices from a bedroom to a converted railway arch in London Bridge. The Clotho team has also multiplied to include several fashion interns to accommodate the growing operational demands.
Alongside the online business, Clotho London run physical clothes swapping events, and have been exploring upcycling as an option for prolonging the life of old clothes – a recent calendar highlight was the Clotho Fashion Hackathon: “We had a mad idea to throw some designers and sewing machines into a room with all the broken items donated to Clotho to see if we could create beautiful new pieces,” said Vivien. (Official event video here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeFDlla7BT4)
About Clotho London
Clotho London is a sustainable fashion business dedicated to providing an affordable way to dress well without damaging the planet. Founded in October 2014, the company is headquartered at 29 Shand Street, Sustainable Bridges, SE1 2ES. For more information visit www.clotholondon.co.uk.