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Isabella West (Hirestreet)

Isabella West won a Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award in November 2018 for her business, Hirestreet

Business Description

Fast fashion is the second largest cause of pollution in the world1. The UK’s consumption of clothing (on average, 26.7kg per head, per annum) is the highest in Europe. In 2017, an estimated 235 million items of clothing were expected to be sent to landfill2. It is estimated that 70 million trees are cut down to make textiles for clothing, as well as 70 million barrels of oil3 are used in the production of synthetic materials to cope with the increasing demand for faster, cheaper fashion, which has been accelerated by consumer obsession with ‘new’, primarily thanks to social media. The repercussions of the production and consumption of fast fashion have been devastating for the environment, with an estimated 1.26 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions being produced annually by the fashion industry alone4
Launched in May 2018 by Isabella West, Newcastle-based Hirestreet is a high-street fashion rental website that offers consumers outfits and garments to rent from high-street brands and stores. This means that outfits that typically would have been worn only a handful of times will be reworn: Hirestreet aims to rent out each of its garments at least 16 times, estimating that the environmental impact of each garment is reduced by up to 70 percent by doing this.
Isabella said, “if consumer purchasing trends stay as they are, then we expect three out of five fast fashion items will end up in landfill within a year. By introducing a shared approach to fashion, we can dramatically extend the lives of fast fashion garments.”
The garments Hirestreet offers are available to rent for a fraction of their original price, meaning that consumers save considerable amounts of money through using the service, as well as reducing their carbon footprints. Hirestreet is also planning on working with charity partners to distribute old stock to women who would not have otherwise had access to these kinds of items.
The funding from Shell was integral to pushing Isabella’s business forward. “The cash prize from Shell was really helpful in our outreach to new brands, where there are often minimum order quantities,'' Isabella recalled. “The funding enabled us to make some of our first bulk-orders from more lavish brands: something that we’d always wanted to do, but was too expensive.”
As someone who had always been entrepreneurially-minded, Isabella had considered pursuing many different ideas throughout her life, but few were ever taken beyond their infancy. She believes that Hirestreet was different because she had a strong gut feeling that she was the right person to take on the idea and execute it well. “I had essentially been running a version of Hirestreet among my family and friends for years, so I really felt like I was the person to found the business and push the concept forward.” When asked what tips she would give to budding entrepreneurs, Isabella advised that they look at their personal competitive advantage. “Ask yourself: why should it be me who does this? If you truly believe that you are the best person to solve the problem, believing in yourself will motivate you every single day to make it happen."
You can follow Hirestreet on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

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