You could simply describe Polina Knudsen as a 24 years old, master degree student at the University of Southern Denmark. You could also call her an entrepreneur, the CEO of Switchlook.
One busy Thursday afternoon we sat down to talk about the passion for fashion and Polina’s second-hand fashion revolution.
I know you are a big fan of second-hand shopping. How did it all started?
I lived at a boarding school and had a close group of friends, so we exchanged clothing. This is where the idea came from. Then, I would go to a second-hand shop and shop the rest to supply my needs. At some point I just got really good in second-hand shopping, it is actually a skill. Once I found a Burberry sweater, a couple of months ago I found Gucci shoes for 25 krones. I wanted to show that you can have a normal everyday style from second-hand shops.
Polina, what do you think about the attitude of Danish people towards second-hand shopping?
It is getting better. I feel when people think about dressing in second-hand clothes, they think about a girl with a very special style - either very vintage or very hippie. My style is pretty minimalistic , and I thought I could show that you can have a simple, Danish style just by buying second-hand clothes.
When I started talking about the idea of swapping second-hand clothes back in 2014, people thought I was crazy. The whole exchange thing... People thought I was nuts, my family said I will grow out of that.
Currently we are 5 people working on Switchlook app, which will enable people to swap their clothes online. We will be ready to launch in fall next year.
What inspired you to start Switchlook?
For me it was a lot about the environment. Clothing industry is a third most dirty industry, after oil and food industries. There are 52 fashion weeks, instead of having two seasons or four seasons, like we used to, we now have 52.
I moved out from my parents when I was 16 and did not have much money, so for me clothing was worth a lot. It made me really upset to see people often throwing the clothes out. What we can do with Switchlook app is reduce the consumption.
Did you completely stop shopping for new clothes?
No, I still do it sometimes. Of course, I buy new underwear and some basics. Colour was a big stopper for my second-hand shopping at first. I only wanted to wear black, white and grey, but with time I opened up for colours and now it is easier for me to shop.
How much time do you spend on second-hand shopping?
Probably as much as you would spend in a regular shop. I find it fun. Second-hand shopping is a lot about dedication. You have to have a routine: for example, I always start with jeans. And you have to flip every single item.
After sometime you will start noticing which item is made from wool or silk. It is about knowing your materials. You have to dedicate yourself to flip through everything - every single item is unique, so you need to give time for it.
Do you have what one could call a minimal wardrobe?
I do not have many items, I get sick of clothing pretty quick. If I am not in love with it, I am getting rid of it - giving back to second-hand shops or my friends. I think in the last two years I have changed all of the items in my wardrobe. I don’t like to keep too much, unless it is fancy clothing, for special occasions. I have around 60 pieces of clothing, exluding shoes and bags.
Lots of people get so crazy about minimalism, forgetting that it is only a tool. I think it is wrong to be aloud to have only a specific count of items, or that you have to have a capsule wardrobe. I hate the “have to”. You should do what suits you, what works for you.
I often catch myself having difficulties giving my clothes away, due to some personal memories… How do you deal with that?
I regularly exercise by doing everything that scares me. In the past I had a lot of problems that I had to deal with and that is the only way to do so. I do not believe in sentimental value, though I do have attachment to things. However, I also believe that you would drown yourself in things by getting attached to them.
The value is in your head, so I think, if you have a sentimental attachment to something, it is better to take pictures of it and create an album. This way you can always flip through the memories and it does not take up space.
And lastly, do you have an advice to a spontaneous shopper?
I never do spontaneous shopping. Even my casual t-shirts for 30 kroner is a planned shopping - I save the items on my wishlist on Pinterest, keep it there for a few months and if I still want it later, then I will buy it.
I believe in buying a couple of really expensive things if you save up for them. I think it is important to have a really expensive bag, watch and jacket. Then you can look a million dollars.
Check out Polina’s grayscale grid on Instagram, where she shares more about her passion for second-hand clothing and Switchlook.
Be a part of the #switchlookmovement.
While the app creation is in process, you can still swap your clothes by participating in one of the upcoming clothes swapping events. Find more information on Facebook.