Sustainability in Singapore: Style Theory’s Progressive Co-Founder Raena Lim Talks Rental Wear and The Fall of Fast Fashion

Have you heard? Jane Fonda recently swore off shopping, indefinitely. Shocking, we know. But since swearing off her last buy in the earlier half of November last year, she joins an already growing legion of men and women who’ve commited themselves to cutting off the dastardly effects of fast fashion.

We love the Earth – it’s the only planet we know that serves great ramen. And while no one is truly immune to the ravages of Black Friday and Single’s Day sales, how do we balance the scales between looking good and feeling good about it? Raena Lim, the woman behind Singapore’s rapidly-growing rental fashion site, gives us her two cents.

How did Style Theory come to fruition?

My friends and I shared a similar problem – bursting wardrobes full of clothes, but having “nothing to wear” at the same time. Style Theory was created to solve that. With smaller homes and tinier spaces, closet space should be reserved for clothes you truly utilise and love.

What challenges did you face when developing the concept?

When we first started, we didn’t know what clothes to buy or which styles to stock more of, and we weren’t sure if the market was ready for an uncommon concept like this. Building our team was challenging too – we wanted people who believed in the message we advocate. Now, it’s encouraging to work with people who want to join the fashion revolution. If we’re already sharing rides, movie libraries, song libraries, what’s holding us back from sharing a wardrobe?

“If we’re already sharing rides, movie libraries, song libraries, what’s holding us back from sharing a wardrobe…?”

Do you think that the future of sustainable fashion lies in rental? 

Definitely. Style Theory is changing how people consume fashion with mindful and responsible consumption, and we’re making significant progress towards ending today’s buy-and-throw-away culture. Fashion rental is not only environmentally sustainable, but financially smart, too. It isn’t really about asking you to buy less, it’s about choosing well and renting smart.

Style Theory carries a majority in designer clothes and luxury bags. Where do they come from?

Our merchandising team does an amazing job sourcing for both; we do have great international partners and designers whom we work directly with, and we also attend trade shows at least twice a year. For luxury bags, we also have our consignment programme to contribute to our inventory.

Tell us more about luxury consignment!

Owning a few designer bags myself, I found that bags I rarely use take up space and require a lot of maintenance. These sentiments were also shared by other designer bag owners. It was then that we noticed an opportunity share our bags other with bag lovers.

Based on the great success of our designer bags consignment programme, we also launched Style Theory Share, for designer apparel consignment. It’s truly fulfilling to give your designer bags and apparel a new lease on life, to make these investment pieces pay for themselves, and free up closet space, too!

How does Style Theory stay sustainable?

At the company level, we’ve improved our use of single-use plastic. Operationally, we’ve also reduced our paper waste, like giving subscribers the option to opt-out of wrapping paper packaging in their boxes. This saves at least 36,000 sheets of paper a year. We’ve also begun to go green on our packaging with garment folder bags as an alternative to our Style Theory boxes. It’s reusable, portable, and a lot more compact! Subscribers can collect their orders from our partners like WeWork and Robinsons, to reduce the carbon footprint per last-mile delivery attempt.

Any upcoming plans we can look forward to?

We are constantly listening to our community’s feedback, and working to improve our service. In line with our aim to support our women through every stage of her life, we’ve introduced a slew of maternity and nursing apparel. We’re also making strides in being even more environmentally conscious, through service improvements like our garment folding bags, and our upcoming Lock&Go service.

Finally, what makes Style Theory stand out from the crowd?

We’re not just any other fashion rental platform. We have a strong bond with our community of like-minded individuals, and we’re constantly working towards a bigger goal of shifting mindsets towards a more sustainable and eco-conscious lifestyle. As a leader in Southeast Asia’s fashion renting movement, we’re not just helping to better the lives of each individual, but we’re helping to push society towards a better future.

Learn more about Style Theory on their website, or get the app here.

Lifestyle Writer

An adrenaline junkie constantly on the lookout for new experiences, Erica spends her weekends soaking in the sun and thinking about food.