92. Alterist

Alterist is a unique marketplace that is harnessing the power of creativity to drive change and reduce textile waste.

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Founders: Hannah Standen and Martina Sorghi
Year founded: 2020
Website: alterist.com

“I have nothing to wear today,” we say, as we stare into our bursting closets. Our human desire for new, shiny things has long ago been catalogued. But, matters have become worse in recent years, after the ecommerce boom made it easier to purchase fashion items online. 

Still, we can’t ignore the facts. 100 billion new pieces of clothing are produced every year by the fashion industry, constituting about 10% of all global carbon emissions. So, how do we start making better use of what we already have sitting in the bottom of our wardrobes?

The answer is upcycling: transforming discarded materials into new products without the need for an industrial recycling process. And Alterist is here to help us, with its tech-based marketplace that unites a community of upcycled fashion designers.

The first threads of Alterist were sewn in 2019, when Hannah Standen and Martina Sorgh met while campaigning for change in fashion. Together, they bonded over their frustrations with greenwashing in the industry. Inspired, they decided to do something about it.

Simply put, Alterist is a used clothing marketplace. But, unlike reselling platforms like Depop and Vinted, Alterist stocks from merchants who have redressed their products into trendy and creative new outfits, feeding our sartorial appetites in a sustainable way.

However, Alterist is not just a marketplace for upcycled fashion – it’s also a way to showcase new fashion talent. The curated front-of-house gives designers a platform for their work, meeting demand amongst Gen Zers for DIY fashion trends that took TikTok by storm last year.

Each designer on Alterist is hand-selected for their creativity, craftsmanship, and commitment to sustainability. At present, the website features more than 850 products upcycled by 85 designers from 18 different countries.

At Alterist, breathing new life into pre-loved clothing is a mission supported by a real community ethos. The company regularly hosts community events and workshops that bring together designers, consumers, and activists to discuss the future of the sustainable fashion sector.

Since forming, Alterist has been awarded £25,000 from Innovate UK to build out its technology, and won the What Design Can Do’s 2023 Circular Design Award to receive €10,000 in award money.

In future, the founders want to establish a collaboration program, connecting brands, clothing manufacturers and charity shops with designers to upcycle returned products. 

By continuing to fly the flag for upcycled fashion and giving a platform to those who do it best, Alterist hopes to inspire more and more shoppers to make ethically-driven decisions about the clothes they buy. That’s a mission statement that’s right on trend.

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