‘Sioda’ (Gaelic for silk), is the first business in Scotland to provide a monthly subscription service where stylish daywear and occasion-wear from high end designer labels such as Reiss, Whistles, French Connection, Hobbs, Coast and Jaeger in sizes ranging from 4-24 can be rented.
Managing Director, Naomi Ross, was inspired to launch the business with Commercial Director Alex McKenna after seeing a gap in the market in Scotland for those who want to be fashionable and shop ethically but are time-poor to source these quality investment pieces themselves second hand. With a strong environmental ethos, the business counters the throwaway fashion culture and ensures that irrespective of size and shape there’s a way to look and feel fantastic in stunning key wardrobe pieces in a cost-effective way.
Naomi said: “Sioda is determined to disrupt the fast fashion industry’s ‘make, wear once and dispose’ approach and offer a mainstream alternative - to rent beautiful high-quality clothes from our website, via affordable payment models. The target customer is an active consumer, who isn't traditionally a buyer of “second hand”.
“With our Sioda subscription service, customers can try out items of clothing to see if they like the style or fit of something without the commitment and large financial outlay for an item which may otherwise have ended up relegated to the back of their wardrobe after a season. This helps reduce the number of ‘fast fashion’ items of clothing being purchased which may end up in landfill.”
Customers can be confident in Sioda’s green credentials. Worn returned items are cleaned with a steam closet care system (certified against COVID), using environmentally friendly products and everything from the packaging to Sioda’s bank has been carefully considered for its own environmental impact. Sioda has also been certified by The Good Business Charter which recognises responsible business practices.
Naomi and Alex go on to explain that expected carbon savings estimates are based on the principle that every item rented is offsetting one new item that would otherwise have bought. In this way Sioda is projected to save in excess 200 tonnes of carbon over the next two years. That’s based on 70% of emissions occurring through production, and production of a basic t-shirt averaging 7kg per unit, 33kg for jeans and 15kg for a dress depending on complexity of design.
Sioda is committed to keeping it local and has strong ties within the local community, working with a range of Stirling-based suppliers and organisations such as Tony Jake Green Photography for photoshoots (a Forth Valley College fashion photography graduate), Honey & Violet creating hair and make-up for photo shoots. Katy Whitelaw of Joy PR provides worldwide coverage from her Stirling base and the team at Sioda has been working with the University of Stirling to provide opportunities for Masters Students to gain valuable insights into the business while working on their degree projects.
The innovative nature of the business to tackle the pollution-hungry fashion industry has already attracted support from Women's Enterprise Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland, 2050 Climate Group, Scottish Enterprise, and Zero Waste Scotland.
Martin Valenti, Energy Transition and Green Enterprise Director at South of Scotland Enterprise said: “The passion for style and sustainability is evident, Sioda UK is ahead of the game and if anyone can make a difference in the fashion industry it is them.”
Naomi and Alex are already looking ahead to how they can use profits from the business to start a foundation focussing on social justice and ethical causes, and are investigating ways that items can be reused positively in other ways at the end of their Sioda life. One such initiative underway is a partnership with Funeral Link to provide garments in kind to women accessing funeral support for loved ones.
Alex added: “At Sioda we have a real drive to be part of that societal change and take people along with us. As a society we need to do more to tackle the environmental crisis and be able to give assistance to people in our society in their time of need.
“We are committed to bring widespread change to the way society consumes fashion and to tackle some of the image-based challenges inequality can bring.
At Sioda we feel really passionately that if we all make small steps to make a change, we can make a big difference.”