Sadie Mantovani

How does Wardrobe HQ  work?

I’m so happy that you like the platform- it’s been such a pleasure being involved in some of your wonderful projects. MWHQ is a social shopping platform with a sustainable heart, one that is fully circular by allowing users to rent and monetise their own wardrobes. The unique buy and rent model allows consumers to ‘try before they buy’, with no hidden catches. It’s both a leading consumer destination for renting and buying contemporary and luxury womenswear and childrenswear fashion- from the wardrobes of individuals or from major brands- and a tech company offering bespoke technology to fashion brands who want to operate a similar offering and reach a new customer. It’s a site for both renters/shoppers, and for those who’d like to monetise their own wardrobes by placing their own items to be rented or sold. It all works very easily- if you’re a customer, just browse exactly as you would when buying anything from any website, but at checkout you will choose whether you’d like to keep your item from any time period from 4 to 14 days. When it’s time to return it,  send back the item via the pre-paid return label and the team takes care of all the boring stuff (dry cleaning, ironing, etc…). And if you can’t bear to part from it, you can email the team letting them know you’d like to buy your rental and keep it for life, and what you have already paid in rental is deducted from the final price. Almost all of the items have both a rental and sale price, which is a fraction of the RRP – perfect for classic icons and pieces you’ve missed out on from previous seasons. If you’re an individual or brand and you’d like to place some of your wardrobe with MWHQ to rent out or resell- we partner with established brands in order to help them to expand their business model into the rental sector, we most recently bought rental menswear with BELSTAFF- just contact the team with descriptions and they will be collected, and listed within a couple of weeks with the VIP service. Then we manage the whole process of inspecting the clothes. photographing them and uploading them onto the platform, ready to purchase or rent.

You’ve been (rightly) very vocal on how Brexit will affect the Fashion Industry, do you feel like there is raised awareness of this now?

It’s still all a bit dire isn’t it. I was honoured to be able to help spread the word of the amazing efforts recently by Fashion Roundtable and their founder, Tamara Cincik, in galvanising some amazing people in our industry into contacting the government and to demand a place at the table while supposed solutions are being created on our behalf by Government. They created an Open Letter which was signed by almost 500 industry luminaries, some of whom then very kindly helped us in our press outreach by sharing their voice in the press- amazing women like Katharine Hamnett, Samantha Cameron, Jane Shepherdson, Twiggy, Jade Parfitt and Yasmin le Bon spoke to some of the generous journalists and titles who were kind enough to write about our proposals. So yes, there is raised awareness but there is still a lot to be done- everyone working in our industry, or who supports it, should write to their MP (it’s so easy to use the template letter on the Fashion Roundtable website),  and one of the most important facts that needs more awareness and that we all need to appreciate is that fashion is so much more than London Fashion Week (and shopping!) – LFW is brilliant and provides a certain number of jobs, but for models, for example, it provides 3% of their annual work. We need far more of a focus on the business of fashion and the innovations- like companies such as My Wardrobe HQ and tech behind it-  which we can offer the government viable solutions to support and make this country a sustainable fashion global leader. Without those steps, the uK fashion industry faces decimation.

Wardrobe HQ is such an incredible concept given the damage fast fashion is doing to our planet, was that one of the key drivers for you?

Absolutely-  my background was in established, luxury brands, whether back in my agency days working on Jaguar cars, Montblanc and Bang & Olufsen, or in-house during my 15 as VP of Comms at Ralph Lauren. When I started my own brand consultancy and comms business, I wanted to add into my experience a world of more entrepreneurial brands and projects, and one of the elements I’ve loved about some of these that have come my way- like Mayamiko, Maison Margaux, Outland Denim and Elizabeth Scarlett – is that sustainable and ethical practices are really built into their brand DNA. The advantage younger brands have is that they can really weave sustainability into their story from conception. More established brands, that even now are taking brilliant steps towards creating a kinder planet- Ralph Lauren has created planet-friendly polo shirts and just introduced their first rental plan in the States for example- still have so many years ahead of them of trying to turn around what we now know are not the most responsible of practices, which is hugely costly. At MWHQ we believe fashion rental/resale is the solution to consuming fashion in a sustainable way and sustainability drives everything we do. It means so much that we have stylists like yourself using our product and sharing out messaging- when I start working with the team almost exactly a year ago, one of the key goals that I set for myself was to help bring the brand to the attention of forward-thinking stylists and editors to encourage them to call our items in just as they would any brand’s, and to shoot them alongside ‘regular’ established brands called in from PRs and used in the same fashion shoots. We have achieved this, and more and more we see our clothes in shoots which would util recently feature only clothes from current runway collections, and not available to customers to buy until 6 months later. I’m proud of how we can show that clothes last beyond a season-  the value of unused clothing in wardrobes has been estimated at around £30 billion, and £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfill each year. MWHQ offers a solution to this- we can extend the life cycle of a garment by up to fifteen times and can encourage customers to buy better, buy less. Even how we clean the returned clothes is a sustainable decision- we use the most planet-friendly cleaning system, called Ozone.

How was the name created?

We actually inherited the name from an original business from which we pivoted, which was relevant to the needs of a customer of a different time. But I love how in my mind it has also come to mean that my wardrobe can also be your wardrobe, as we can all now share in a circular economy.

What does a day in the life of Sadie look like?

Currently it starts with no coffee as I am on a ’30 days to a healthier you’ porogramme by Arbonne which is tough but offers great results, but usually I am mainlining caffeine from the moment I wake. Then it’s nursery drop off- I cannot tell you how grateful ‘ e been that my daughter’s nursery has remained open throughout lockdown, working at home with a 4 year old is impossible and I am in awe of anyone who achieves it- and then a day of WFH at my desk speaking with the press or catching up with my clients and planning events or strategies. I try to divide my day into equal chunks devoted to each of my clients rather than dedicated specific days to specific brands, as I find that works better with my attention span which has been awful over the last few months of lockdown and I now achieve more by chopping and changing than devoting whole days to a single project. During ‘normal’ life I would work from the gym cafe too to maximise potential workout time, and take meetings- or entertain, same thing mostly ;)- at Annabel’s or Soho House. Work ends at 5.30 with nursery collection, but I’m afraid that I’m quite old-school in my (non-existent) work/life balance and often work after bath and bedtime. Usually I am happily distracted by Netflix and Deliver though- I cannot cook a thing and lockdown has not changed this- who ARE all these bananas breaders??!

As a successful entrepreneur yourself, what advice would you give to other female start ups?

Be prepared to work harder than you ever have before, but to find that you are invested so much more in every result and success. Find valuable and knowledgable mentors whom you trust, and try to work with people, brands or projects who share your beliefs- and who are kind and fun to be around! You’ve chosen to chose a career which allows for more of your own choices, so you may as well surround yourself with an environment you want to be in. (And, as in my case, find an understating and patient life-partner 😉 )

Who would be your dream client to dress? 

I love people who really live the ethos of My Wardrobe HW and of another gorgeous, youthful brand I work which has adorable designs doing wonderful things in the sustainable and ethical arena, Mayamiko. I would love to dress Emma Watson, who I worked with over the years during my own 15 at Ralph Lauren, where she would admirably only wear clothes from past collections to encourage the re-wearing of clothing and less manufacturing and wastage. People are gong to kill me for this, and am sure she needs none of my help, but currently I am obsessed with getting my hands on Adele….she has had such a life/look turnaround and looks so gorgeously happy and confident her new look, but I dont think her wardrobe has moved on with her and I’d love to see her in some more youthful, joyful looks.

How would you describe your personal style?
Gosh do any of us really know what our style is anymore after more than a year in loungewear 😉 I think my personal style is a mix of inspirations gathered over the years of brands I have experienced. I used to be quite 90s preppy with a twist- lots of oversized blazers with sleeves pushed up worn over jeans tucked into short cowboy boots, and Polo Ralph Lauren suiting worn with trainers. I love jumpsuits too, in either denim or tan, and am a sucker for chunky knitwear in navys and greys worm over flowing floral skirts with chunky boots. As soon as we are out lockdown I shall be wearing lots of dresses, however smart, as daywear over t-shirts or shirts, as we’ve all seen that there is no point in saving anything for best anymore- wear it while you can!

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