Natalie Hasseck is one of two friends and founders of Onloan - a fashion rental subscription service, with a shared mission to reduce waste, curate brilliant independent designers and reignite a love of clothes without the guilt. We've recently been in collaboration with Onloan for a big giveaway - in between, we caught up with Natalie and discussed all things Onloan.
Where did the inspiration come for Onloan?Tamsin - my business partner and my cofounder - has been into sustainability for a really really long time now and she got sick of having to trawl through eBay to find something great to wear. She wanted access to brilliant designers, without it harming the planet. She figured that fashion rental was a way that she could make that happen, so I joined forces with her and we set off to start building Onloan.
How many years has it been in the making?
We’re two years old but we hate saying that we’re two years old because one year of it has been battling a pandemic, so really we feel like we’re perpetually one year old. Two years in the making and one year feeling like we’re actually a business.
Were you always involved in the fashion industry?
So, Tamsin has never touched fashion or been anywhere near it - we still laugh to this day about the fact that she’s in the fashion industry now. Whereas my background has been in fashion from a really, really young age. So, I started out in a boutique where I learned everything and then eventually, I started assisting loads of stylists - learned loads working on set with different stylists and photographers. I then eventually started a blog about trends, culture and fashion as a behaviour. It was really never about me or my outfits - it wasn't that kind of blog. I was just interested mostly about the how's and why's of fashion, connecting behaviours with trends. That eventually led to me getting picked up by Mario Testino’s people, so I was brought into his agency to work as an art director. That was my last big job, after that I worked with various creative endeavours before joining Tamsin to start Onloan.
Do you think there’s a benefit to working with someone who didn’t have anything to do with the fashion industry before?
Definitely, a lot of creatives in one room is a disaster. Tamsin and I - our partnership, I say to everyone is the most precious thing to me and to Onloan. We’re very yin yang energy, we speak completely different languages but somehow when we come together, we’re fluent in each others language. It’s really interesting, we often arrive at the same solutions from completely different perspectives, it’s a really refreshing union. If it wasn’t for my partner, I would’ve never have met her. It’s so helpful, it’s definitely a key part to what makes Onloan tick - the fact that we’re both totally opposite forces who arrive at the same things often.
When you have that sort of relationship with someone, a benefit is being able to plug each other's knowledge gaps.
Yeah, I definitely feel like…I get quite philosophical about it because I feel like she was sent to me. She’s taught me everything that teachers tried to teach me over the years in education but could never teach me. She just has this way of helping me, like, problem solve stuff. I’m a typical creative in the way that I’m all over the place. In school, you get told what you’re good at and what you’re good at and you kind of stick to that in your mind. She’s actually shown me I am good at things I didn’t think I could be good at, just through the dynamic of our partnership.
What makes you most excited about Onloan’s future and the future of slow fashion?What makes me the most excited is the idea of walking down the street, seeing people really dressing for themselves, experimenting with style and people fully appreciating design, colour and fabric and getting dressed up again. When they’re not just being one look or one trend that everyone’s adhering to but people are connecting fashion to joy again. I think that fashion rental is the ultimate way people can do that. With an Onloan subscription, you can change up your style monthly and not feel bad about it. You can try on an identity and then the next month, change it up to something else without feeling bad or guilty about it or like you’re contributing to waste. You can decide one month you’re a romantic and the next month you're feeling a bit more punk and that’s completely fine. We all tried to do that back in the day when Topshop reigned supreme but ultimately we know where that led us to, whereas with rental we can all share in that collective experimentation.
Are there any en vogue trends that you absolutely hate?
I’ve just noticed people wearing crocs and I think it’s supposed to be ironic but it’s really annoying me. Generally, it is that ironic thing that I hate the most - there is nothing more wasteful than ironic fashion to me.
I come from the thought that everything should be as beautiful as it can be, not necessarily beautiful in that perfect way or beautiful in a one perspective type of beauty but I just like everything to be elevated and as great as it can be - I don’t like that mockery.
Do you have a favourite piece of clothing listed on the OnLoan website?We choose all our designers really carefully. We intentionally only have 25 designers, we could have a lot more but we tend to only work with people we’re extremely passionate about and who are making a brand to last for the future. We’re not interested in any hype brands that will be around for 2 years. We steer clear of hype quite strongly, working with designers who we know are gonna be relevant in 20-40 years. With that in mind, Maggie Marilyn is someone I believe is really creating for the future.
Who do you feel, in fashion or beyond, is doing monumental work when it comes to fashion right now?Definitely Maggie but I’d also like to namedrop Amy Powney, founder and creative director of Mother of Pearl. Both designers are at the forefront of sustainable design in that they really track every piece of garment they make down to the grain of corn that became the fabric. They really do incredible work in their fabrications. In sustainable fashion, everything tends to look quite hempy, hippie and heavy on linen. Whereas these guys have found a way of keeping it fashion. They still do incredible colours, inspiring cuts - they’ve married sustainability and fashion in an impeccable way. They're paving the way towards a future of fashion.
When you do want to buy some second hand pieces, do you have a favourite place to go?My favourite place for vintage, ever, is Berlin, I can’t come back from Berlin without needing an extra suitcase. Also, New York as well. I think vintage in London is the worst, whereas in Berlin in terms of quality and price, it’s just incredible. There’s just a lot of toot you have to wade through in London. I think the problem with London is that we were probably a bit early on vintage being the way forward. A lot of vintage dealers snapped up all the best pieces really early on and now sell them at a premium markup. So, there is great vintage but it’s all very, very expensive. Y’know, there’s only so many Ozzie Clark dresses left. Obviously, you’ve got your Beyond Retro's which are good for bits of denim and maybe some leather. Actually, scrap New York - it’s Paris. Paris is the best. What’s amazing about Paris is that you can actually find a 70's Yves Saint Laurent blouse for €40 and you don’t really get that anywhere else in the world.
Can you tell us about your most significant achievement?
Surviving this pandemic. My founder and I still remind ourselves that, even though the pandemic is still here, we’ve made it and are still standing - it just feels very credible, the fact that we’ve survived through it. Even though things have been so hard and we’re knackered, the fact that we’re still here is amazing. I’d also say our partnership with Mother of Pearl. So, Mother of Pearl have now adopted rental on their own platform, they’re one of our biggest brands. Now, when you go on their website across nearly all their products, you can buy them but you also now have a rental option which takes you to Onloan. This is just a huge thing for rental businesses, and a real proof point in its success.
Have you seen any news recently that inspired you?
Yes, inspired me but also given me fire. The news this week that the white rhino has gone officially extinct. It really stopped me in my tracks and broke my heart. For so long, we were warned that it was about to happen, then it actually did happen and it's given me ammo to keep on building with Onloan. To keep finding solutions to fashions disastrous waste problem.