Have you been to a library lately?
But not the kind you are thinking of. I’ve stumbled upon a fashion library. It’s amazing how you live in a city for ages and still can find hidden gems like this.
LENA The Fashion Library was founded by a creative team of three sisters and their friend, all of whom are passionate about fashion, vintage and sustainability.
LENA is the first fashion library in Amsterdam. The shop caries mostly very well preserved vintage clothes, but has a growing section of new, eco-conscious clothing as well.
What surprised me first is the space itself. LENA is located in a beautiful light building in the center of Amsterdam. The shop’s interior is well thought of with modern concrete floors, beautiful changing booths and minimalistic shelving. There isn’t any musky smell that you’d expect from a vintage shop. And then there are the clothes… I was in heaven! Rows and rows of garments arranged by color. Here I found an eclectic mix of fashion era’s, textures and fabrics.
After browsing through the clothes for a while I was really impressed with the diversity and quality of the clothes. Another pleasant surprise where the prices. In LENA fashion library you can either subscribe and borrow clothes (like in a real library) or just buy them. The subscription starts at just 19,95 euro per month
I’ve spent my time in LENA with the lovely Suzanne Smulders, who kindly answered a few of my questions:
How did you get an idea to start a “Fashion Library”?
We had a vintage (web)shop for 7 years already, where we were busy with reusing of clothing already. We where very motivated to take it to the next level, so we came up with the idea of LENA. We want to stimulate people to consume in a more conscious way through the borrowing system.
When did you open the store?
We opened in December 2014, so only 3 months ago. We had a nice opening party the 4th of December: https://vimeo.com/114662032
What kind of customers do you get? (age, size, etc) We get all kind of customers, but most important is that they all have a passion for good style and high quality items. Our customer base varies from 15 yrs old to 65+.
How do you choose the clothes to sell in LENA? We have a clear vision of the style we want to put together at LENA. Quality is key and we like the combination of vintage items from different eras to be combined with clean and timeless items. Next to that we like the brands that have a similar vision as ours (so no fast fashion)
What are you customers most surprised about when they come to your store for the first time?
I think most of them are positively surprised by the whole look and feel of the shop. They expect some second hand/flee market setting, but we put a lot of effort in hygiene and the presentation of our collection. We think style is very important, which is reflected in our store.
Do you see a shift in people's attitude towards sustainable fashion? Are they more open to concepts like “Fashion Library”?
Fashion is a lot in the media lately, and not with any good news, so yes we definitely see a change in mindset. People care more and more about how their clothing is made and by whom. People are looking for new ways to consume, so sharing is a nice option. But also this is an easy way for our customers to get introduced to sustainable fashion.
What are you hoping for in the future for LENA?
We hope that fashion libraries will become bigger and bigger, and eventually we can open a LENA in all major cities in the world. Our dream is to go on holiday with only some hand luggage and your library card, so you can borrow whatever you need on your trip at LENA!
So… here’s a taste of some of the outfits I’ve tried on. Which one do you think I took home with me?