Inspired by Poshmark and Depop, Northwestern sophomores Collen Charchut and Anika Dewjee wanted to see more sustainable fashion habits in Northwestern students. They took matters into their own hands with ReWear_NU, an Instagram page where students can post their clothes for the Northwestern community to purchase, borrow, or trade.
ReWear was selected as one of eight projects in the Garage’s Propel Program, an award-winning entrepreneurial mentorship program for female students. Dewjee developed the concept in high school, and she and Charchut decided to revive ReWear at Northwestern. In this Q&A the two founders discuss the vision behind ReWear, how it works and their goals for the future. This interview has been edited for concision and clarity.
Where did ReWear begin?
Charchut: We just wanted to start something of our own. We were both very passionate about clothing and fast fashion. In high school, I basically wrote my junior thesis on sustainability and the circular economy, and so we connected over that. Then Anika told me about ReWear, and we thought, “What better place to make it happen again than Northwestern?”
Why bring ReWear to Northwestern?
Dewjee: There are so many special occasions where you need a specific piece of clothing that you might not have. I know a lot of us will go onto Shein or Amazon and buy these cheap, low-quality things. These work for the occasion but are obviously bad for the environment and fuel fast fashion. So we wanted to do something, and we felt like college was the perfect place to do this because there are so many themed occasions.
Charchut: Something we both noticed was that for formals, date parties or fancy occasions, we would all just borrow each other’s dresses. We wanted to streamline that whole process and make it into an Instagram account.
Dewjee: There are so many people on campus who all know each other, trust each other for the most part and want to make money also. So we thought, “We are the perfect customers for this, and we know that we have friends who are just like us who have the same problems.” So we knew there would be a huge market here.
How does Rewear work?
Charchut: If you’re selling your article of clothing, you just DM us a picture and say, “Hey, I want to sell this for this price. This is a little description of it.” And then we repost that so it goes out to the broader Northwestern community… Then, if someone wants to buy an article of clothing, they just DM us directly saying they want to buy it, and then we have the buyer and the seller coordinate how they’re going to pass items off and how they’re going to be paid.
What are your short-term goals for ReWear?
Charchut: We’re hoping to make it so that people post every item from their closet. It’s like a major shared closet so that everyone can borrow or lend clothes. That’s a big thing that Poshmark and Depop don’t have.
Dewjee: One of our goals is to create a website or an app in the future. For now, it’s just figuring out the best way to tell people about how to use [ReWear] and how it works, and then getting the word out. For something like this to work, you obviously need people who are willing to sell and willing to buy, so the students are the ones fueling this entire thing.
Any long-term goals?
Dewjee: We were thinking of doing in-person clothing swap events where students bring clothes they don’t want anymore, donate as many pieces as they have, and then will leave with the same number [of items.] We would charge an entrance fee, and then all the proceeds would go to nonprofits and NGOs that work to fight fast fashion.
How has your experience been in the Propel Program and the Garage as a whole?
Dewjee: Being in that community has been awesome because everyone is so knowledgeable, and being surrounded by entrepreneurs is definitely helpful, especially since that’s not a super popular thing on campus.
Charchut: Being in the garage is just really exciting because everyone’s working so hard in there, and everyone has their own passion projects. It’s been great to get our foot in the door.
How have people responded to ReWear thus far?
Charchut: It’s been so good. We’ve been so excited seeing the engagement so far. People [have] reached out DMing us saying, “Hey, I don’t have any items right now, but I love this idea.” Some of our friends who are studying abroad right now, they’re like, “Whenever I come back, I have so many items I’m going to sell on ReWear.” So it seems like there’s a big need for this in the Northwestern community, and people are really excited about it.
“Just Keep ReWearing” and follow ReWear_nu on Instagram to join this communal shared closet!