A note from
Aisling, our founder.
We started The Nu Wardrobe because we love fashion but know the industry has devastating social and environmental impacts. I saw this first hand when in India in 2013 (the same year as the Rana Plaza disaster). I was angry and frustrated and upset that I had been so complicit in an industry that caused so much harm, and I was resentful because I wanted to enjoy fashion but couldn’t because I simply didn’t know how to do that without contributing to the problem.
My friend Ali had a similar experience and we talked and talked about it. It felt good to know I wasn’t the only one freaking out about the state of the world and my role in it. We wanted to change our habits but we didn’t have much money and many sustainable alternatives felt like a luxury, something we couldn’t afford. So, we went in search of an accessible and affordable solution.
It didn’t take long for us to realise we were already solving the problem in our own way, with the wardrobes we already had. Any time there was an event coming up we’d borrow from friends. Dresses got passed around like pass the parcel at a childhood birthday party and by consequence, those dresses had a pretty vibrant social life (often they had a far better social life than me!)
It was with this realisation that The Nu Wardrobe was born - a social network to share clothes with people in your local community and extend the life cycle of our wardrobes.
The idea to us was liberating. For every share, we’d find an outfit new to us, and would offset a significant amount of C02, water and waste in the process. And, it’s all focussed on sharing rather than renting - once a member you can borrow clothes for free, like sharing with friends - but the whole city is your friend!
Finally, we could distance ourselves from an industry that we didn’t feel represented us, creating our own network and eco-system in which we could enjoy fashion on our own terms, no longer at the mercy of brands and their inaction to solve the global fast-fashion problem.
Here’s to recognising when things need to change, and to believing that we have the power to change them. Here’s to Nu and here’s to you!
We are stronger and louder together. Let's start making noise.
Over the past two years we’ve been adapting, trialling and building the Nu concept and movement and it has always been built as a collective. A collective of people who I am so lucky to call my friends from Masha, our creative director who I met after borrowing her unreal Marques Almedia jacket, to Gráinne who launched Nu in Cambridge to Áine whose held the fort in Dublin, to Lucas who has single-handedly built the Nu app, and to all of our members because without you, we simply would not exist. Here’s our journey.
2014 - A Lightbulb Moment
Founders Aisling and Ali went to India on the Suas volunteer programme while at university and saw first hand the reality of the fast-fashion industry. When we came back to Dublin, we had a hard time finding alternatives to fast-fashion that were affordable and accessible. We felt isolated in our efforts to make more conscious fashion choices and decided we needed to make a change.
2015/16 - The Side Hustle
In our final year of university at Trinity College Dublin, we began to run swap shop events. This was slow to begin with but gradually more and more people came along and volunteered, building up the nu community. As the team expanded, we learned a lot about what solutions people were looking. We found that many people were keeping beautiful pieces in their wardrobe because they didn’t want to permanently part with them, but these pieces were lying unloved for far too long. We pivoted our swap shops to focus on a new way to easily share clothes, allowing people to borrow items for a limited amount of time, a way to give clothes in our wardrobe a new lease of life while constantly changing up your own wardrobe.
We took part in the TCD Launchbox incubator programme. A Summer programme for student entrepreneurs to bring their business ideas to life. Nu won the prize for 'most compelling pitch'.
2017 - Becoming Nu
Nu transitioned from an idea to a reality in late 2017. Ali moved on to pursue an amazing masters in Oxford university (but is still very much involved in the nu community) and Aisling continued to build Nu after taking the leap and leaving her job as a media planner and starting nu full-time through the Enterprise Ireland New Frontiers programme.
Our first trial was a very simple process. We created a basic landing page on Squarespace for women in Trinity College Dublin to share their clothes for the upcoming ball Ball. Aisling returned to the uni she had long since graduated from and went around lecture halls asking people to send pictures of outfits they could share for to ball - she put them online where people could request to borrow, and shares were organised in Whatsapp groups. Ever heard of The Lean Startup? We took that concept very much to heart! Haha. With had 350 sign-ups and 60 pieces we're borrowed in 3 weeks we’d proved our initial concept.
2017 - Becoming Nu Part II
After the success of the Trinity Ball trial, The Nu Wardrobe web platform was developed and set live in September 2017. People could now upload and share their clothes online with The Nu Community!
We recruited amazing brand ambassadors across Ireland and the UK to begin setting up their own nu communities on their campus. This changed nu from an idea to a movement led by amazing women! We trialled this platform in Dublin and Cork.
Nu represented Ireland in the global finals of Climate Launchpad in Cyprus and was quickly running out of funding (story of the start-up life). With Aisling’s last £100 she bought a ticket to London to compete in the London City Challenge to provide a circular fashion solution in the city of London. We won! Through this, we met with Advance London, LWARB and London College of Fashion, and set our sights on London.
2018 - Trying and Testing
Hello London! We moved to East-London to participate in the Bethnal Green Ventures, a technology for good accelerator and 12-week programme to kick-start the Nu business. We identified our challenges, began building our team prepared to raise our pre-seed round.
Meanwhile, in Cambridge, Gráinne began setting up the next Nu community which took off! It was the first test for us to scale and see if Nu could be run autonomously by members, and it was a success.
On the ground in London, I was meeting amazing women from all backgrounds and walks of life who wanted to join the Nu community. One of these women was Masha, the original IT girl and lover of all things fashion. I borrowed her unreal Marques Almeida jacket for a conference in Paris and after this we had lunch. This lunch eventually turned into a partnership and Masha is our creative director today! We find nearly everyone who works on Nu through the Nu community itself.
With a proven idea and a growing team, we began preparing to fundraise our pre-seed round.
2019 - Building Nu
In April 2019 we closed a £215k pre-seed round backed by Sustainable Ventures, Bethnal Green Ventures and some angles (in every sense of the word). We quickly got to work! Lucas, our incredible CTO single-handedly built The Nu App. We recruited our founding members in East-London to become our initial users and confidence, and on August 7th The Nu Wardrobe app was launched at an incredible launch event.
We’re now ready to bring the app to greater London, Cambridge, and Dublin. Soon we’ll be looking for people all over the world to join the movement.