By linking customers to local seamsters, the Sojo app means people can get their clothes altered, repaired or upcycled in just a few clicks
Like so many innovations, it was personal need that led to the creation of the Sojo app. Founder Josephine Philips (main image, above), a 23-year-old graduate, wanted some of her clothes repaired and tailored, but her sewing skills weren’t up to it.
“I found that going to a seamster was too much time and effort, which meant I never got round to doing it,” she said. “Sojo was created to solve this.”
Users enter their postcode, choose a local seamster and the service they need and await collection of their garments by a bike courier. The clothes will be returned within five days, ready to wear. Sojo currently only operates in and around zones one and two of London, with plans to expand: Brighton and Bristol are next.
Around two years ago, Philips made a conscious decision to try to avoid fast fashion. Before becoming aware of its often-unethical supply chains and its environmental impact, Philips admits she was an “avid” consumer.
“But once I realised that shopping from these big brands didn’t align with my feminist values – their business success was built off the back of the exploitation of majority women of colour garment workers – there was no going back.”
Seeking other ways to satisfy her sartorial creativity, Philips turned to secondhand clothes: “I was a student, so they were a perfect mix of sustainable and affordable. But whether in charity shops, thrift stores or on [buying and selling website] Depop, I’d constantly find clothes that I loved that weren’t my size. I realised the solution was to alter them.”
It is the first professional foray for Philips, whose previous experience consisted of waitressing, and interning at Depop. Launching during a pandemic has been challenging – Sojo has had to run a limited service during lockdown. But the app has attracted some positive reviews already.
One reads: “I have had a pair of pinstripe trousers for the last year and never worn them because the waist was too big. I couldn’t recommend Sojo more: it’s like getting a new item of clothing.”
Philips is confident the app will prove attractive, particularly to members of the Gen-Z and millennial generations.
“From food to taxis, we’re used to everything at our fingertips,” she said. “Given this, and the fact that most of us don’t know how to sew, Sojo is the perfect connector. It links talented seamsters who have a craft that has been developed over decades, and a younger generation that is full of potential because of their interest in sustainability.”
Main image: Sojo founder Josephine Philips. Credit: Sojo