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Berlin-based fashion subscription service POOL lets you rent pieces from Comme des Garçons and Nike

Photography By POOL
Published 10.06.21

Growing up, my older brother was my style muse. In my eyes, he was the epitome of cool and effortlessly on trend; he always knew what to wear and how to wear it.   

Unlike those siblings you see oscillating between one another’s wardrobes, I was never allowed to borrow his clothes or even buy similar garments. All I ever wanted was to emulate his style, but instead spent my youthful years unsatisfied with my own bland wardrobe, jealously eyeing my brother’s apparel and those siblings who shared clothes.

Of course, I’m an adult now, equipped with my own style and no longer pining to wear my brother’s clothes (at least not every day). And though I have the means to invest in my own clothing, I admit the desire to have a fluid and interchangeable wardrobe is still there. That’s why I love POOL: a subscription service that lets you have the thrill of new clothes and a shared wardrobe, without the long-term commitment (or hefty impact on the environment).

Conceived in Berlin in early 2020 by co-founders Kristian Rix and Rune Orlof, POOL offers a clothing membership for fashion-enthused individuals, giving them access to a shared wardrobe of garments from which they can pick and choose, renting pieces for however long they like, before swapping them for something new.

Orlof says POOL was “triggered by a dilemma”: on the one hand, he and Rix enjoyed fashion, but on the other, they were seeing fast fashion’s role in the climate crisis. “So we started to look into the possibilities of [giving consumers] access to endless fashion products – like we have access to endless music on Spotify – and making it a lot more fun for the consumer and a whole lot better for the planet by increasing the number of times a product is used,” Orlof says. POOL’s motto captures this sentiment: “Wear More. Waste Less.”

Like many fashion rental services popping up around the world, POOL is dipping a toe into the shared fashion economy with the hope of reducing demand for new clothing. By giving consumers access to high-end brands and dynamic wardrobe options, where quality and longevity trumps trends, they aim to provide an alternative to fast fashion buying. One of the core questions asked by POOL is why we shop to own, when fashion by default is temporary.

“From day one, we were focused on finding a concept that would challenge traditional fast fashion on price, speed, style and convenience,” Orlof says.

“Our goal is to consistently make it easy for consumers to have access to the best fashion brands, but also be able to swap those pieces for something new and exciting without effort or having to buy new clothes.”

So, how much does a POOL membership cost and what can subscribers expect to receive in return? “Our service access price starts at €29 per month,” Orlof explains. “This will give individuals access to hold one product at a time for as long as they want. This also includes free swaps, cleaning and delivery. If our members wish to hold multiple products, the monthly fee multiplies with units.”

So far, POOL have partnered with more than 20 fashion brands to supply their subscription service, including Nudie Jeans, Nanushka, Nike, Byborre, John Elliott, Rhude and Soulland. They currently service locally in Berlin, though Orlof shares they have plans to spread to other cities throughout Europe in the future.

For now, Orlof and Rix are focused on putting the fun back in fashion and reducing the environmental guilt of clothing consumption with their circular subscription model. If you’ve ever wanted to experiment with your style, or wear something totally out of your personal parameters of ordinary, then POOL is the place to try. While first-time users tend to gravitate towards safe colourways like navy and black, Orlof says it doesn’t take them long to realise POOL provides the freedom to unleash, and so they seek out brighter colours and quirky patterns on their next swap. And if it turns out a garment is not really your thing after all, you simply send back and swap for something else.

Scrolling through POOL’s wardrobe offers an enticing list of items to try: windbreakers, formal shirts, streetwear, winter jackets and even hats. Classy, slick and stylish, I’m easily persuaded by Rix and Orlof’s vision of a city-wide shared wardrobe. My hope is to one day participate in this version of fashion, surpassing my brother’s style and leaving him looking on in envy.

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