Georgian-style Sustainable Fashion and the Peculiarities of the Modern Fashion Industry

The modern fashion industry is developing in an intriguing way: on the one hand, there is a trend of constant change and a celebration of fast fashion, while on the other hand, we see protests of environmentalists against excessive production and pollution. It is important for the fashion industry itself to also combat against these negative trends oppose this and try to attract attention in different ways.

This wave has reached Georgia as well. It is interesting to look at the concept behind online store Phubber, which entails re-buying and selling quality clothes and accessories. This practice has long been accepted in other countries. How does this model work in Georgia and what is its role in the development of sustainable fashion? Anano Dolaberidze, co-founder of Phubber, and Tako Natsvlishvili, the company’s ambassador for sustainable fashion, talk about the platform’s activities and plans.

 Anano Dolaberidze, co-founder of the online store Phubber

– It has not been very long since your platform emerged in the digital world, but it has already managed to acquire a loyal user base. What was the reason for this? Why was the Phubber concept so attractive?

 – “Social shopping” is quite popular on the international market. Phubber is an online platform where customers can buy and sell clothes, shoes, accessories and various self-care products. The idea of ​​the app is for a person to sell clothes for which they have paid a lot yet no longer have the need for. On the other hand, they can buy similar items. Our platform allows everyone to turn their wardrobe into an online store, to have loyal followers and buyers, while Phubber provides delivery service, quality control, packaging, marketing and an online payment system.

– One of the main goals of Phubber is to promote and boost the sustainable and circular future of fashion. How relevant is this issue in the modern world? What is the situation in Georgia and what are you doing to make this topic a trend?

– The fashion industry ranks second globally in terms of pollution. Some studies claim people do not use about 80 per cent of their wardrobe. Most of it ends up in landfills and amounts to millions of tonnes each year. Each of us can contribute to the creation of a sustainable future. Sustainability is primarily an understanding of personal responsibility – we must look for a solution in everyday trivialities. It is important to deliver the correct message to the public: that this is not an individual, local problem, the disadvantages of which only affect a particular group or area. The issue is global and requires community engagement. Unfortunately, this topic is not very important yet in Georgia. The population has rather scarce information in this regard, so one of our main goals is to promote and popularize a viable and circular future of fashion.

– Phubber’s slogan is reuse, resell, repeat – which is based on the concept of resales and circular fashion. How does this model help save the environment and can we consider that this is somewhat a component of eco-innovation?           

– Yes, and that is our very goal – to deliver the correct message to Phubber customers, what it means to be a participant in the future of circular fashion and why it is important. We try to talk about this topic often and show with concrete examples what impact a seemingly insignificant decision has on the environment – that a small effort from everyone is ultimately fruitful and is necessary to change daily behaviors.

 – Recently, famous model Tako Natsvlishvili became the sustainable development ambassador of Phubber. What does this initiative envisage and which joint projects are planned to raise consumer awareness in the field of eco-friendly fashion?

 – Raising awareness of the importance of circular fashion and promoting eco-activism are preventive actions that will surely change the current picture. That is why we started cooperating with Tako Natsvlishvili. We offer customers very interesting projects together with her, such as Green Round Table Talks, which include dialogues on topical issues and initiatives related to fashion sustainability. Our new initiative is to replace environmentally harmful polyethylene bags with reusable bags. Phubber x Tako Nats offers a wide selection of bags. Trendy design accessories can be used daily for different purposes. At the same time, they bring down pollution and are fashionable.

– What are your plans – in what direction are you going to develop? How do you see the future of Phubber-like online markets and how well they will be able to compete with the fast fashion industry?

– “Resale”, i.e., selling again is very relevant globally. In terms of business, this market will reach $64 billion in the coming years and will surpass both fast and luxury fashion. “Resale” is slowly becoming one of the most attractive trends in the world. Consequently, our development and plans are also directed at making this process permanent and interesting for as many people as possible.

Our team is passionately working on technology development. We will soon see artificial intelligence in Phubber, which will offer customers a customized catalog. We try to further refine user experience through various means and make the choice easier. Competing with fast fashion is not easy and resales are not likely to completely replace it, but if we gradually reduce the consumption of this type of product, fast fashion production will also decrease and will eventually move closer to a product that is less harmful to the environment and that uses fewer natural resources.

Tako Natsvlishvili, Phubber Sustainable Fashion Ambassador, Model.

– Attitudes towards fast fashion are slowly changing in the world. Environmentalists oppose the harmful effects of this industry and the dangers posed by it. What is your attitude, as a new generation model, towards these processes?

– A few years ago, at the beginning of my modeling career, fashion sustainability was an issue that didn’t really capture the attention of the public or industry creators, but over time things are changing and nowadays this problem is significant all over the world. Responsible brands are increasingly thinking about creating eco-friendly products to do less harm to the environment and ecology. This issue is not easy to solve and requires a great deal of effort, but everyone, including both consumers and manufacturers, can contribute to its acceleration: brands should think as much as possible about creating an eco-friendly business model, while consumers, through  their behavior and choices, should force manufacturers to plan healthier and more responsible campaigns.

– What motivated you to be Phubber’s Ambassador for Sustainable Development? What makes this activity important to you?

– Sustainable fashion and in general, sustainable development issues, came into my life while studying at a university in Italy, where we devoted a lot of time to this topic, including multiple projects in the field of circular fashion. It was then that I realized how interesting and important the issue is. I decided to get more involved in this process in Georgia and to raise people’s awareness in this regard as much as possible. Phubber’s goals coincided with my interests – the business model of this platform is sustainable and circular as well; and aims to reduce harmful effects of fashion on the environment. Hence, I decided to collaborate with them.

 – What does being a Sustainable Fashion Ambassador mean to you and how are you going to carry out this mission?

– A Sustainable Fashion Ambassador has an important mission – primarily of creating a better future, contributing to the popularization of sustainable fashion and to the formation of a more responsible, transparent society. We organized a lot of interesting activities with Phubber: photo and video campaigns, educational videos, green talks, where we discuss sustainable development issues with interesting people. We have jointly produced reusable bags to replace and reduce the use of polyethylene packaging. We are planning many more novelties to popularize this issue in the future.

– How can the future development of sustainable fashion change the fashion industry?

– For a long time, fashion has been one of the biggest contributors to waste and climate change – mainly because of its unsustainable and non-environmentally friendly manufacturing methods. But fashion is changing and brands are opting more sustainable fabrics and production methods. Studies show that 88 per cent of consumers want brands to help them lead an eco-friendly lifestyle. Consequently, I can say that the future of fashion is and will be eco-friendly and sustainable.

Brands are transforming their business style, they are becoming more transparent. Transparency will become mandatory to ensure that all processes in the supply chain look good and that the customer is assured of the sustainability of the company. This is vital for them.