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Nuw: This Startup Turns Garments into Money

Nuw: This Startup Turns Garments into Money

If you want to clean out your closet but don’t want to throw your clothes away, you could sell some of them on a site like Depop or The RealReal or give them to a thrift store. This works for high-end or old clothing, but not fast fashion, which is always being made. People might not want to buy used fast-fashion clothes if they can buy them brand new for the same price or even less.

The CEO and founder of clothing-swapping service Nuw, Aisling Byrne, says shoppers will still wear fast fashion that’s been worn before. When she was in college in Dublin, she used to set up clothes swaps and saw this for herself. She couldn’t sell the fast-fashion clothes she already had online, but her friends were happy to take them in a swap.

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“I started to realize that the real barrier is the price,” she says. “We can’t give [fast fashion] a second life because we set prices at our own will. People would just say, “That’s too expensive, I could buy it used for less,” or, “That’s too cheap. If sold inexpensively, it must be awful. When prices are removed from a clothes swap, customers are willing to try a fast-fashion item again.

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Nuw Expands to US, with Plans to Set Up State Groups

Byrne liked local clothing swaps so much that she made Nuw, an app that lets people change clothes online. You can upload a piece of clothing to Nuw in return for a coin. Fast-fashion items get you a silver coin, while nicer or more unique items get you a gold coin. Then, you can use that coin to “buy” another piece of clothing on Nuw, basically trading the item you no longer want for something new.

Each piece of clothes costs just one coin, plus a $1.00 service fee and shipping. Byrne says it’s a way to reuse the clothes you already have without throwing anything away or buying too many clothes (even used ones) that you don’t wear.

In 2021, Nuw came out in Ireland and the UK. In April of this year, it came out in the US. The app has 50,000 clothing pieces, 36,000 of which have been traded. Since its U.S. launch, Nuw has users in all 50 states and 20,000 apparel items for swapping. Byrne plans to set up state groups soon so that users in different states can swap clothes closer to home and save money on shipping. Campus groups at colleges could also let people swap clothes in person.

Byrne thinks that Nuw will make people change the way they buy clothes. Even though people are becoming more aware of how fast fashion affects the environment, there is still a trend of buying one-off clothes for special events. For example, a lot of people bought new pink outfits for the Barbie movie premiere.

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Nuw App Aims to Give Fast Fashion Clothes a Second Life

Byrne thinks fast fashion goods have value even if the buyer is done with them and they wouldn’t sell on a traditional resale site. She explains, “My love of swap shops turned out to be the best way to get these pieces of clothing to be worn more than once and have a longer life.” Nuw tried renting these garments, but individuals only wore them once. They found that people were more interested if they could just give a piece of clothing to someone else.

Resale sites and thrift stores can also make us think we need a room (or two) full of clothes. One number says that Americans buy 68 pieces of new clothing each year. The global leftover market is predicted to reach $305 billion by 2027, almost quadruple its current value. She says, “We can buy used things as much as we want, but if we do it at the same rate as fast fashion and those pieces don’t have another life or just end up in a landfill, we’re just putting a band-aid on the problem.”

Nuw says it already has a retention rate of 88% over the past 12 months, which means that people are joining the platform and sticking there. “They’re starting to think about how they actually buy clothes in a whole new way,” she says. “And it does seem to be true that once you start trading, you can’t stop.”


What is Nuw?

Nuw is a clothing swap app that allows users to swap unwanted clothes with other users in their area. The app was founded in 2020 by Ciara Byrne, who wanted to find a more sustainable way to get rid of old clothes.

How does Nuw work?

To use Nuw, users first create an account and upload photos of the clothes they want to swap. The app then uses an algorithm to match users with other users who are interested in the same clothes. Once a match is found, the users can arrange to swap their clothes in person or through the mail.

About Antonia Read

Antonia Read is a seasoned author specializing in the world of startups. With a keen interest in entrepreneurship and innovation, she has become a prominent voice in the field. Antonia's insightful writings offer valuable insights into the challenges and successes of startup ventures. Her expertise and dedication to the subject have earned her a reputation as a go-to resource for aspiring entrepreneurs and business enthusiasts alike.