With the dawn of the industrial revolution, we began to see the rise of automation and large businesses. As people moved from small towns to big cities, large corporations replaced small merchants, and local markets gave way to national distributors. This was the beginning of the shift away from collaborative consumption and towards mass consumerism, the very life blood of our current economic system.
As a society, we have been trained to want to buy. This is a result of large businesses controlling what we think while being incentivized to continually grow the bottom line. The only issue is that infinite growth with the wrong incentives cannot work on a finite planet.
The sharing economy is reviving collaborative consumption and reimaging peer-to-peer-based activity. It is about sharing what we own and enjoying access to commonly owned goods. It is about understanding what we need, not impulsing on what we want.
Many of the companies that participate in the sharing economy have us engaging in behaviors that were previously unthinkable. We are getting into strangers’ cars (Uber), welcoming them into our spare rooms (Airbnb), dropping our dogs off at their homes (DogVacay), and eating food in their dining rooms (Feastly).
This raises the question, what if everyone could instantly have access to quality garments so they do not have to purchase them? What if the garments they had access to were not from businesses but from their community? How might this change our concept of ownership in an industry that prides itself on always having something “new”?
From these questions, Boro was born.
The Boro Concept
Boro was founded with a lofty objective: to offer quality garments at an accessible price, to pursue accessibility over ownership, and to lead the way for socially conscious retail businesses.
Boro is a trusted community marketplace for women to list, discover, and borrow clothing from the stylish closets of Toronto.
No more having to spend hundreds of dollars for a quality garment you will only wear once. All of our pieces come from women in Toronto. They spent hundreds of dollars on it for an event, wore it once, then stuffed it in the back of their closet. Boro brings life back to these designer pieces while making our lenders money and our customers look amazing, save money, and reduce waste.
If you were to Boro (rent) a garment for a 4 or 10-day period, we deliver it to whichever location is most convenient for you. At the end of the rental period, we pick it up and handle the cleaning. All you have to worry about is looking amazing. If you are concerned about fit, we have a Pick What Fit’s program, where you can choose up to three garments, try them all on, then we refund you for what garment(s) you did not choose.
The key to Boro being an instrumental part in the pursuit of a waste minimizing lifestyle is capacity utilization – in other words, getting the most use out of each garment purchased!
For example, if a garment from a fast fashion retailer lasts four wears and a garment from a high-quality retailer lasts 25 wears but costs four times as much, there is more value in the garment of higher quality. The issue is you are probably not going to wear it 25 times due to the social and internal pressures to wear something “new.”
What if these wears and therefore the cost of the garment was distributed over many people? All of a sudden you have a system that contains quality, affordable and highly utilized garments.
Capitalism has given rise to impulse purchasing decisions.
It is too easy to buy that bag for $40 from a fast fashion retailer because it looks nice and it is inexpensive. Though the price is only $40 to you, the true cost cannot be seen because it does not directly grab you by the wallet. The price we pay comes collectively in the destruction of our forests and oceans, in the exploitation of workers, and in the piles of waste in landfills. Someone will have to pay for this and the “not my problem” mentality just will not cut it anymore.
Renting allows us to think less impulsively and more consciously. What do I need? When do I need it? How will it be worn? What value do I place on me wearing it? No more impulse purchasing. By borrowing, we can change the collective mindset for how we as a society should consume.
Though we cannot stop these fast fashion companies from producing, we can alter how we buy from them. In the long term, these retailers will have to adjust to the community’s consumption habits or capitalistic incentives will eat these fast fashion companies whole.
Changing How We Think About Ownership
Even if some don’t care to use Boro, we hope that what we represent sparks discussion and empowers individuals to take action. Individual awareness is the first step to global change. People are choosing to buy mobility as opposed to a car, accommodation as opposed to a home, and a hole in their wall as opposed to a drill – accessibility as oppose to ownership.
At nearly every turn, the power of sharing, cooperation, collaboration, openness and transparency has proven to be more practical than capitalists thought possible and is reimagining how we think about ownership.