'Changing the perception of ethical fashion' is what The Wearness is all about. In 2017, fashion insiders Julia Zirpel, Jennifer Dixon, Guya Merkle and Karolin Helou launched their online marketplace for fashion, jewelry and beauty. Everything is produced fairly and sustainably, but still trendy and stylish.

The range for men and women includes brands such as Aeance, Disselhoff, Julia Leifert, Aggi, Swedish Stockings, An An Londree and Malaikaraiss, as well as their own line, which runs under The Wearness and presents a new recyclable garment every three months.

We spoke with the founders about the idea behind The Wearness.

The Wearness founders (from left): Julia Zirpel, Guya Merkle, Jennifer Dixon and Karolin Helou
Photo: The Wearness
The Wearness founders (from left): Julia Zirpel, Guya Merkle, Jennifer Dixon and Karolin Helou
What makes The Wearness different from other platforms and stores for sustainable fashion?
At The Wearness, we showcase a carefully curated selection of labels and products that you won't find at traditional retailers. We are fashion experts and see ourselves as a "treasure hunter" for special fashion. Unique in style and also in the story behind it.
The aesthetic approach is just as important to us as the aspect of sustainability.
In addition to the pure shopping experience, The Wearness offers a wide range of background information, designer biographies and articles about a sustainable lifestyle. On The Wearness, you should get as much information as possible about the respective brand and product. We want to show that fun in fashion and fairness are not mutually exclusive.
Coat by Aeance
Photo: Aeance
Coat by Aeance
Why another store? Wouldn't it be more sustainable not to offer any further incentives to buy at all?
Instead of renunciation, we believe in the conscious purchase decision and the better alternative. Instead of rejecting fashion and consumption, we want customers to learn to value fashion again. We would think it would be great if people would deal with fashion, with what really suits you, what fits you, but also with the origin of a garment - and its actual price. The biggest problem is: buy, wear three times, throw away. We want to prevent this by selling customers what they love. And that works best when the items are fair AND beautiful. Because a product only becomes sustainable when it is worn for a long time.
The Wearness homepage
Photo: The Wearness/screenshot
The Wearness homepage
What criteria are used to select the brands?
We only work with producers and designers who run their business with respect for people and the planet and who meet our three most important criteria: good, timeless design, impeccable quality and sustainable and fair production methods. Transparency is especially important to us at The Wearness.
In order to be able to better assess the companies, we have developed a detailed questionnaire that we ask each label to answer in advance of the collaboration. In it, we ask about production sites, control functions, suppliers and much more. We don't just rely on certifications, which small labels often can't afford. We have found that companies also use this questionnaire to rethink certain issues.
To give our users on The Wearness a better understanding of why a product is sustainable, we've developed ten different sustainability icons that represent qualities like "eco-friendly," "fair," "vegan," "organic," or "handmade."
Bag by Disselhoff, via The Wearness
Photo: Disselhoff
Bag by Disselhoff, via The Wearness
Where do you search for new brands?
We are mainly interested in small niche brands with special products. Very few of them can already be found in other stores. We discover most of these brands via Instagram. In the meantime, however, we are also contacted by more and more labels who want to sell their products through us.

How does The Wearness act with regard to its own ecological footprint, e.g. packaging and shipping?
Since October 2020, The Wearness has been carbon neutral. With the help of Leaders for Climate Action, we were able to measure our CO2 consumption. Through the NGO Ecologi, we have offset our CO2 emissions, supporting important projects.

In addition, we plant a new tree for every product purchased on The Wearness. Nevertheless, we offer companies to use our packaging material. We decided against traditional cardboard packaging and chose a more sustainable alternative. It is made from plants, corn to be precise. The packaging can be composted at home and can be easily disposed of with food and garden waste.

For shipping, we recommend companies to use a CO2 neutral shipping.

You also launched your own line The Wearness. How come and where is the collection produced?
The motivation for our own small collection came from a question we keep asking ourselves: How do we get away from the waste of resources and mountains of discarded clothing. It may sound paradoxical - we decided to do even more fashion - our own collection according to the principles of the Circular Economy. Moving away from fast fashion and throwaway fashion to a collection made of recycled materials and 100% biodegradable.

Blouse by The Wearness' own label
Photo: The Wearness
Blouse by The Wearness' own label
A collection in which every piece can become a classic. A new garment every three months. Everything fits together and yet each stands on its own. We started with a blouse.

Our biggest challenge was finding the right fabrics and materials. We decided to get help from Circular.Fashion. In addition to a workshop on the Circular and Cradle to Cradle principles, we were able to find the perfect materials via a fabric database: the fabric from recycled cotton, yarns from Tencel, buttons from stone nut, interlinings and labels from cotton–all plastic-free!
The production is located near Passau in Germany.

What are the plans for the future?
At the moment we are working on the next collection pieces. In early summer we plan to launch a dress, then in late summer a blazer. A new garment every three months.
In addition, we are working on expanding our range. At the moment, we still have a very big focus on women's fashion. That is set to change. We have quite a high proportion of men who visit The Wearness. They should also be able to find a larger selection of products with us in the future.

Could there also be a stationary The Wearness store soon?
In fact, we are also looking for a store location in Munich. We would like to make The Wearness and our sustainable products even more tangible for the customer, with monthly changing focuses on different sustainability topics. In addition to sales, we then plan to hold regular workshops and talk events there. But we haven't found the perfect space yet...