Tania Sarin and Cat Wennekamp launched Styleguise as a fashion app offering on-demand, on-time style help. But soon after launch, the pandemic hit, which made their initial styling offering all the more necessary. Best Friends were saddened to see all the seamstresses, tailors and creatives out of work. They wanted to find a way to help consumers and the industry through the Styleguise. The only thing that was needed back then was a protective mask. Sarin and Wennekamp also noticed that there weren’t many fancy options on the market for face masks, “We quickly shifted our focus from closet alterations and event style to an online store at full-fledged selling the highest quality, most attractive masks on the market while employing these same people.At this point, our number one goal was to make all men and women feel classy while being protected in such a dark time and helping our community.
Following guidelines then provided by the CDC, they worked on a new mask design that had never been seen before – sleeker, more attractive, and comfortable. In all of this, they wanted the masks to be sustainably sourced. “We went a step further and worked with unsold designer materials from Los Angeles. Purchasing this unsold material allowed us to obtain high quality and expensive breathable fabrics for a fraction of the price. Producing and milling our own fabric for the production of masks was out of the question at the time since all the factories were closed… another blessing in disguise. It forced us to think sustainably and consistently use local sources at every turn,” they explained. “Buying this material helped lift it out of the inevitable landfill it would one day end up in to kickstart our efforts to make sustainability and online retail work together.”
The masks became an instant hit photographed on countless celebrities, like Bella and Gigi Hadid, Addison Rae, Olivia Rodrigo, Christy Tiegan, Megan Fox, Kaia Gerber, Rosie Huntington-Whitley, Zane Malik, Jacob Elordi, Maddy Zeigler, etc. . With tens of thousands of masks sold, the pivot turned out to be a success but it was only temporary. As the world emerged from the pandemic and face masks were no longer needed, there was an excess of gear to use. Sarin and Wennekamp anticipated this and had the foresight to quietly begin designing and developing an elevated basic clothing line. With the excess mask material, they were able to incorporate and design pieces around the fabric itself. In November 2021, the Styleguise launched a 14-piece womenswear collection. Finding a way to reduce pollution and waste of mask fabric was a key decision for the pair, as more than 1.6 billion masks ended up in the oceans.
The Styleguise didn’t stop with their own collection, they are now a sustainable marketplace selling over x emerging designer brands from all parts of the world that focus on one of the main pillars of sustainability. For brands to be on the store, they must do some or all of the following things; no plastic in their packaging, sewn by local craftsmen, collections made only of dead material, vegan fabric, with local manufacture and realization. The evolution of the Styleguise stays true to Sarin and Wennekamp’s philosophy, “slow fashion is proving to be our winning business model and we will remain vigilant in the brands we embark on and choose to spotlight.”