I am an enthusiast of both sustainable fashion and small business, but online shopping can be tedious and challenging so I was excited to connect with ChangeRoom- a perfect combination of the two. ChangeRoom is the first mobile marketplace that brings conscious consumers and sustainable local brands together. I was eager to download the app to see what it had to offer and it did not disappoint!
ChangeRoom is easy to use and makes shopping fun. You can scroll through your feed to browse a variety of products from local, sustainable brands and styles. See something you like? You can “heart” an item or brand and it will be added to your favourites. You can also choose from curated categories including sale (Who doesn’t love a sale?), new arrivals, accessories, under $50, and more.
When it comes to conscious shopping it can be time-consuming to find the products you like and then research the brands to ensure that they align with your ethics, so I was curious about the personalized features ChangeRoom advertises and how the app experience differs from typical online shopping. Ayush Bhargava, one member of the team of University Of Waterloo students who created ChangeRoom, explains that “Instead of clicking on different categories of products and spending a lot of time to find products they like, a customer gets an infinite feed of apparel to scroll through recommended to them based on what they favourite. This feed of recommended apparel gets better the more a customer uses the app.” Sustainable badges (including ethically sourced, made with eco-friendly materials, locally sourced, etc.) allow for a unique consumer experience with handpicked, vetted brands depending on one’s idea of sustainability. What a time saver!
So, how did this amazing app come to be? Recently, more and more people are learning about making ethical choices and the impact we have on our planet as consumers. Ayush was inspired while listening to speakers discuss sustainable and ethical fashion at the Global Fashion Agenda event. He then did some research about garment production and did outreach with owners of sustainable brands and organizations like Fashion Takes Action. Ayush believes that, as global citizens, we have a responsibility to care for the planet by moving away from fast fashion and we can do that with “a large push from the consumer side to purchase sustainable fashion brands, which pushes other brands to be transparent and more environmentally conscious.” ChangeRoom aims to give shoppers a push in the ethical direction!
What I love about ChangeRoom is how it supports both local and ethical businesses- two passions of mine-while also having a global impact. One brand featured on ChangeRoom, “sariKNOTsari”, located in Hamilton, Ontario, works with artisan-partners in India. This means that consumers have a positive impact on their local community and on the lives of workers across the globe. Here are some other fair trade brands with global partners that you can shop on ChangeRoom:
- Brave Soles – Toronto-based footwear brand that works with a community of workers on the north coast of Dominican Republic to use upcycled tires to create their lovely shoes.
- Chic Made Consciously – Toronto-based accessories and jewelry brand partnered with a talented team of artisans based in Bali and Cambodia who use upcycled tires.
- The Good Tee – Uses only Certified Fairtrade Cotton from farmers in India and are a Certified B Corporation. They work with women from India through the fair trade program.
With so many exciting and innovative features in the initial launch, what can we expect to see in the future? Ayush says that currently the app is based in the GTA with the goal of 30-40 sustainable brands. They’d like to include even more features like one-day local delivery. The team also has plans to expand to Montreal and Vancouver by August and include 100 sustainable fashion brands from across Canada. Ultimately, they’d like to be the “go-to sustainable fashion marketplace for Canadian-based brands.”
The slow fashion community has been building momentum and Ayush and the ChangeRoom team want to facilitate the process of consumers finding sustainable and ethical brands that “meet their pricing, style and, most importantly, values without spending hours researching.” They are well on their way!
You can find a link to download the ChangeRoom app below along with their social media: