As a former buyer for brands like Bebe, Guess, and Nasty Gal, Los Angeles entrepreneur Daisy Chen Hutton is well familiar with how devastating fast fashion can be on Mother Earth. In her words: “My job as a buyer was to set trends, pick the merchandise, create the assortment [and to make it] so appealing that you want to keep buying more,” she says.
“I loved working for those brands,” Hutton tells UncoverLA. “In the decades of experience I had, nobody was thinking about the environmental damage we were creating with all of our excess goods.” Child labor, poor fabric quality and construction, and fair pay were top of mind, but “we turned a blind eye to the entire rest of the business.”
Enter: The Fixx Collective, Hutton’s sustainable, “sharecycling”-powered solution to the fashion industry’s overconsumption problem. The original plan? Open a brick-and-mortar space in L.A. where local members could rent designer womenswear and participate in community events — but the pandemic upended all of that.
As a result, the Fixx Collective’s fashion rental service has been postponed to spring 2021, says Hutton. When it does arrive, you can choose between one-time rentals or a monthly subscription tailored to your style and needs.
Until then, this month the company officially launched its e-commerce site offering sustainable clothing, footwear, jewelry, and accessories, including from L.A.-based labels. On the virtual racks, expect to find eco-friendly basics and denim from Ética, loungewear by People of Leisure, handmade loafers by Osay, activewear by Girlfriend and Wolven, recycled resin jewelry by Dconstruct, and candles by Dehv, to name just a few.
Admittedly, selling merch — albeit consciously made — is at odds with the brand’s mission to empower people to consume less. “The hardest part has just been trying to tell our story of sustainability, but now we’re selling stuff,” she explains. The offerings are investment items that people don’t necessarily want to buy used, such as pre-worn workout gear. “We really vet our brands from a wholehearted commitment to the same values we have and we’re really choosy.”
To celebrate the launch, the brand is donating 10% of proceeds during the month of September to California Fire Foundation and Cajun Navy Relief as part of its monthly give-back campaign. Even better: Shoppers can trade their 15% first purchase discount and apply it towards the donation.
Hutton explains that motherhood helped inspire her to create the Fixx Collective. She took a break from her career after having her two children and did all of the “responsible consumer” things: She recycled, used energy-efficient light bulbs, and avoided single-use plastics, to name a few, she tells us over Zoom. (Fittingly, she took our call from her closet, one of the few kid-free spaces that parents enjoy at home these days.)
Another turning point came two years ago when Hutton attended a lecture by an environmental sciences professor. “I really learned about climate change from a deep-down and dirty, nitty-gritty perspective. I realized how horrible that industry was. I had major guilt,” she says.
The Fixx Collective comes after Rent the Runway’s decision to close all of its brick-and-mortar stores. Citing cancellation of IRL events and the current work-from-home culture as a result of the coronavirus, InStyle reported in July that online clothing rental and subscription services are expected to lose up to 50% of revenue.
We got to know Hutton (yes, from within her closet) to find out more about The Fixx Collective, her vision for the company’s future, and more. Read on below, then shop online and sign up to be notified of the rental service launch here.
What has your eco-conscious journey been like, and how did it inspire you to found the Fixx Collective?
The journey was interesting. I always thought I was being a responsible consumer. And then two years ago I went to a lecture from a professor of environmental sciences and climate change and the way he spoke about it was shocking to me as a regular citizen. I didn’t understand the severity, the facts behind it, and the science the way I thought I did.
At that time a light bulb went off; I had major “eco-grief.” You go into a spiral of sadness for our children. What are we going to do to make things better? My children are small but in 10 years’ time, they [and others] need to have a safe space.
Going to that lecture triggered all of the alarm bells. I knew if I was going to do something, I needed it to be important. I knew sustainability was going to be my mission for whatever I went in. Fashion is what I’m learning all of these details about. I really want to create a space, and still be sustainable, and [create a] niche for the L.A. consumer.
Where are you sourcing your rental inventory?
A lot of our inventory comes from people’s closets. “Sharecycling” is our trademarked term — people know what recycling and upcycled means, so we really want to promote the idea of sharecycling, or sharing clothes. We share these values, a planet with all of these people, and now we’re promoting sharing.
What kind of brands and items are you looking for?Part of it is we will purchase your gently used clothing. If you have things in your closet that you are done loving, but you don’t want to donate, we provide the alternative to selling it [to a consignment platform like] The Real Real.
We aim for more [recognizable] contemporary and designer brands, but it doesn’t have to be a sustainable brand. The entire point is extending the life of the garment. Dresses are very popular, for vacation or brunch — whenever we go back to those things. Even blazers, more of the fashion and trend categories.
We can’t imagine the challenges of launching a new business, let alone during the pandemic. How have you shifted gears as a result?
We intended to be a brick-and-mortar store [because] we really wanted to center ourselves around a community. Now we’re building out the online platform because we have to. There’s not really an existing platform so we had to build it from the ground up. The pandemic propelled us to launch the e-comm first, but originally we wanted to open the store and figured we’ll sell knick-knacks and things on the side.
What have been some of your favorite finds so far?
I love Sora’s towels. They’re yoga mats-slash-towels [that are each made of] eight recycled plastic bottles. They’re artistic and beautiful; a lot of people think that sustainability means muted, free of dyes, free of [color]. There are brands that are doing beautiful things and these towels are one of them.
Pandemic or not, what’s it been like launching a fashion business and being a first-time entrepreneur while diving back into the “working” world? (Though parenthood is already a 24/7 job!)
It was such a privilege to take the time off. It’s such a shift when you stop working a high powered corporate career. I had all the time in the world, but there was such a major part of me missing, and I want to be productive — not that raising a child is unproductive, but being a mom you always feel a shortcoming. You’re either working too hard or spending too much time [away from the kids].I’m not a natural entrepreneur; I never thought of myself as [one]. None of this is natural for me. I had to listen to a lot of podcasts like How I Built This with Guy Raz and Girlboss. When you launch a business, you have to do everything. I do have a business partner who runs the operational and financial side, but now I’m a content creator, even though I don’t want to be in front of the camera. But here I am!
I have to go and push myself and do these things. Social media is really a full-time job. I have to write blog posts and be a photographer. At least it keeps the boredom away!
Where are a few L.A. places that you’re excited to return to?
The gym, that’s the biggest thing. I love working out and I really miss Training Mate and OrangeTheory; I really miss working out in person. [Editor’s note: Training Mate has reopened for outdoor workouts.]
I also miss going to brunch. I know restaurants are open, but we haven’t been venturing out so much. I miss eating at Majordomo, [which we went to] right before the pandemic happened. It was so delicious and I was so excited to go back. And Ostrich Farm!