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Student launches search engine for sustainable fashion in the UK

Published: 19 August 2019
Team CeCe
Marcella Wijngaarden (centre) has co-founded Project CeCe with her sister Melissa and friend Noor.

A successful online search engine for fair and sustainable fashion has been launched in the UK by a student from the University of Southampton.

Marcella Wijngaarden (postgraduate researcher in Mathematical Sciences), her sister Melissa and friend Noor Veenhoven have created Project CeCe to make it easier for people to find ethical clothing. After its success in the Netherlands and Germany, Project CeCe – CeCe stands for Conscious Clothing – is now expanding into the UK.

Project Cece uses in-house developed web tools to automatically ‘collect’ products from over 100 sustainable webshops on one website, providing a complete overview of all available ethical clothing. With insightful icons, to-the-point descriptions and filters, Project CeCe helps consumers find clothing that fits their style, budget, and values, say its founders.

Britons are known to be avid shoppers and fast-fashion lovers. However, the UK is also home to many sustainable brands that try to make a difference and more and more people do want the fashion industry to change. Public opinion is slowly switching in favour of ethical fashion and Project Cece is launching in the UK to accelerate this process.

Marcella, Melissa and Noor were inspired to create Project CeCe after realising the large negative impact the fashion industry really has for people and the environment which prompted them to make the switch to sustainable fashion. But finding ethical clothing turned out not to be as easy as finding fast-fashion, which can be more easily sourced using sites with large collections, such as Zalando.

Marcella, who had just finished a minor in programming, was fed up with having to search for hours through different webshops just to find a simple sustainable top that fitted her style and budget. “This should be easier, there should be a website that brings it all together, like an Amazon of conscious clothing,” said Marcella, “If such a website does not exist I will build it myself!” And so they did.

“The fashion industry is very dirty - millions of people are exploited and it’s one of the most polluting industries in the world,” Marcella continued. “In the last few years, more information about these awful conditions has reached the public and people want to see change.

“Asked if they would buy clothes from unethical fashion brands, 55% of UK consumers state they prefer not to,” she said. “However, making that step to actually buying fair and sustainable fashion is still hard. The clothing is harder to find as it is spread out over many, typically smaller, webshops such that you have to browse multiple websites to find what you’re looking for. This is where Project Cece comes in.”

The whole project is a far cry from Marcella’s studies in Southampton where she is pursuing a PhD in Mathematical Sciences (Applied Maths) in the Gravity Group. “I study Astrophysics and my research focuses on neutron stars (the most compact and dense stars in the Universe),” she explained. “With my supervisor and collaborators, we are using gravitational waves, X-ray data and computer simulations to figure out what these dense stars are made of.”

 

 

Slideshow image
Marcella (centre), Melissa (right) and Noor (left) were inspired to create Project CeCe after realising the large negative impact the fashion industry really has for people and the environment which prompted them to make the switch to sustainable fashion.
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