Melbourne, Australia: Like many, Tumnus founder Shanya Suppasiritad was heartbroken when she first watched The True Cost documentary and became aware of the less than glamorous impact of the fashion industry. A stylist at the time, she was disheartened to discover that while she was trying to help her clients feel good about themselves and improve their confidence, fashion was disempowering women elsewhere.
“What we do to make ourselves feel better in the short term by buying into the consumerism throwaway culture is having a long-term impact on the environment and society,” Suppasiritad shares. She was left with two options; do nothing or make a change and show her clients how it’s done. Turns out the latter was much more difficult than she could have imagined. Supparisitad’s options suddenly became very limited and expensive.
One of the ways she combatted this issue in her own life was to share and borrow clothing with her other stylist friends. It meant she could enjoy a temporary new addition to her wardrobe and return it once she was done. This is how the idea for Tumnus was born. Suppasiritad believed that if she could expand her circle of fashion lovers and create a trusted platform to facilitate borrowing and connection, she could make it easier for people to consume fashion in a more sustainable way.
Her idea was later solidified when, at a sustainable fashion event, Suppasiritad spotted a woman across the room with a beautiful pleated white skirt and realised how perfect it would be for an upcoming white-themed party she was attending. She was about to ask the woman where she had bought the skirt from, intending to go out and buy it herself, but was reminded of her idea. Instead, Suppasiritad asked the woman if she could borrow it and the answer was a surprising and immediate yes! The pair exchanged numbers and arranged for a courier to pick up the skirt. Suppasiritad borrowed it for three weeks and took the woman out for coffee to say thank you. They have been friends ever since.
“As a busy adult, it can be difficult to meet and befriend people outside your work and immediate circle of friends,” she admits. “I loved how easy it was for me to connect with someone over a shared passion for fashion, but had I not asked to borrow her dress we never would have met. This inspired me to facilitate the same experience for other people so they too could see how easy and fun it was to share.”
Named after Mr Tumnus in the C.S. Lewis classic book ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, the first character that Lucy encounters after she enters the magical wardrobe into Narnia, Tumnus seeks to create that almost magical connection between those of us who love to play with fashion but are conscious of our impact. The beta platform launched in Melbourne in February and there are plans to take it to Sydney before the year is out.
So how does it work? “Changing people’s attitudes towards sharing clothing has definitely been the biggest challenge. Our ultimate goal is to disrupt the way people consume fashion, not an easy task when at the moment it’s incredibly easy to buy very cheap garments from fast fashion brands,” says Suppasiritad. This is why the team have deliberately made it as simple as possible.
Instructions on how to use the platform are as follows:
- You sign up to the online platform and create a profile
- List any items you are happy to share
- Browse hundreds of garments listed by fellow fashion lovers in your area
- Click ‘Borrow Now’ to organise a date and time for pick up
- Meet up in person or book a courier to pick up the items
- Wear and enjoy the new threads for up to 5 weeks
- Clean the items according to the instructions and return them OR use Dryz to clean and return them for you
- Rinse and repeat!
Tumnus hosted its first pop up for ethical fashion’s biggest event, Fashion Revolution Week. I was really excited to attend, and at the opening, the room was filled with such an incredible energy and enthusiasm for the project. I have been hungry for a new, easy and ethical way to engage with fashion and it was wonderful to connect with so many other people who felt the same. Racks of clothing ready to be borrowed lined the walls, including five pieces from my own wardrobe that I was willing to part with for a short time. I plan on adding many more items to the platform because, while I love my clothes, there are quite a few pieces that I only wear a handful of times a year. It feels like a bit of a crime to have these beautiful pieces hidden away when they could bring joy to other people in the meantime.
I returned to the pop up a couple of days later and, thanks to a glass of champagne and Suppasiritad’s excellent eye for style, walked away with two garment bags worth of clothing to play with. Currently, the platform has 90 active accounts and 300 items of clothing available so Tumnus really has something for everybody. Now, instead of going out and buying that new dress for an upcoming event, search Tumnus. Simple as that.
To learn more visit tumnus.com.au.
Make sure to check out the EWP Events Guide if you’re keen to see the cool, stylish, informative events happening in the sustainability world.