The scene is instilled into every fashion-caring millennial. Cher, the lead of 90s hit Clueless, bounces over to her archaic computer monitor in a desirable pyjama short set (a look that viewed through a pandemic zeitgeist seems appealing in itself) and clicks through her digitised wardrobe to decide what to wear that day. That kind of technology seemed impossible at the time of the film's release, and yet 26 years later, it can be easily found on your phone in the form of Whering.

Founded by Bianca Rangecroft, Whering launched last week as a wardrobe organiser, personal stylist and sustainable shopping destination within an app. “We landed on the idea of Whering being a digital wardrobe where you can get styling recommendations, but also sustainable product recommendations. I thought that they should all go hand in hand, in order for you to have a cohesive wardrobe and consume a little bit more mindfully.” Much like the original archetype found in Clueless, your self-taken pics of your individual pieces are edited to look like product shots, resulting in  a clear image of your garment for Whering to play with. Styling is done through the company’s in-house technology, which gives you the option to create outfits with your own clothes, or with new anticipated product drops. “We are super proud of it because we founded the company in June and we’ve been working tirelessly on the technology,” speaks Rangecroft. “It’s really all tailored to the user’s style persona,” which is gathered from the style quiz the user does when registering. “Funnily, a lot of feedback has been that our style quiz is actually really good, because it doesn’t just give you just one persona; you can be half and half. The more we learn about the user, the more their persona can shift on a monthly or quarterly basis, meaning that they may end the year with a different clothing style than they had at the beginning.”

Rangecroft’s background was not a fashion one – her perfectly executed waist-up outfit that I witnessed on our Zoom call would have you thinking otherwise – but in banking. She spent four years working at Barclays, then moved into the investment management division of Goldman Sachs where she focused on consumer stocks. “It was the most amazing transition for me as it was something I really wanted to work on, especially selling equity stories to clients and doing a lot of work around IPOs.” The seed was planted when she started working on the Stitch Fix IPO – an American personal styling company founded by Katrina Lake and former J.Crew buyer Erin Morrison Flynn. “I was doing a lot of due diligence into personal styling, into the technology behind it like machine learning, and I had a desire to couple that with democratisation and the idea of changing how we interact with clothes, that would in a way, upend the industry’s throw away culture.” Despite having dipped her toe within the fashion industry through her work, starting a business within the sector without having a careers worth of industry insiders to fall back is by no means any easy feat. Rangecroft candidly agrees. “Let's crack open a bottle of wine and go into it!” The offer was tempting. “It definitely was very challenging, but I think I was lucky that I have never been a traditional candidate anyway.” Rangefort studied African and Middle Eastern history and politics, got into finance after studying an economics masters, and was seen as the “odd blonde out in all of the [job] interviews” she did. It’s her work ethic that’s built her ambitious drive. “One of the things that I took with me was that I’m definitely a generalist. I found that I had to hustle, but things will come if you’re set on your mission and you let that guide you.”

The app’s eco-conscious mindset – reuse what you have and consume consciously – underpins the ethos of the app, and comes at a perfect time when the fashion industry has undergone reflection (and still continues to do so) on how it can be better environmentally and socially. But there’s a common conundrum that comes into play when talking about sustainable fashion: can fashion ever be sustainable when it’s built on the ideology that we must churn out new products every season? And how do we support an industry that thousands of people work in, and who love it for being the easiest way of creative self-expression amongst other reasons, whilst trying to act more eco-consciously? I posed the overwhelming question to Bianca. “That's a great question, I think even as a consumer that is really on top mind for me,” she answered, going on to explain that it’s about giving consumers the most sustainable options first. “For Whering, we looked into two things: what are long term sustainable products or investment pieces that we can get our demographic to buy, so they can unlock more from their wardrobe, and what are the brands we can partner with, that we feel comfortable representing. We think about it as contributing to a new era of fashion being slow and more sustainable, more local and more creative with less output. Those are the considerations that went into building the shopping model but also the part where we style our users.”

So what next? “For me, it’s really a lifestyle app, that you wake up every day and use it like it’s your best friend.” says Rangecroft. “It has the tone of a best friend with the look and feel of a heritage brand, and that’s really what we want to go for. Whether that’s to be a market-place where you can share, buy and sell everything from yours and your friend’s wardrobes, somewhere to get personal styling or products that are really tailored for you, so you can cut down your screen time caused by scrolling through products or whether it is to find eco-friendly dry cleaners; for me it's just a one stop shop for your fashion needs.” Will we ever need to go anywhere for fashion advice again? In the words of Cher: ugh, as if!

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