An Interview with Signe Hansen from Use Less
Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you created your blog and your YouTube channel Use Less.
Being a former designer working for several different conventional fashion brands, I reached a point where it didn’t make sense to me anymore. It was a combination about not wanting to participate in creating fast/conventional fashion (especially after watching the documentary The True Cost), but also the life that comes with working as a designer. It’s a fast changing life, where you’ll spend a great deal of the year away from your loved ones, travelling around the world. While that may sound appealing to some people, I couldn’t see myself in that equation. I’m such a homebound person, and I kept thinking that there had to be another way that I could keep working with what I really love in a more slow and balanced way. I just wanted a place where I could set my own rules: and that’s how I got the idea for my blog. When people told me “it doesn’t sound like the fashion business is really the thing for you” I got stubborn. Because I’m convinced that it is: I just see myself as part of the movement that wants to change the industry for the better.
Your style always looks so effortless. How much “effort” do you actually put into your style? Is it something that you’re constantly thinking about and planning, or is it something that naturally comes to you?
Looking effortless does in fact require a bit of effort, haha! But I’d say that the effort lays in the planning of my capsule wardrobes. On a daily basis it doesn’t take much effort putting cool outfits together, because I have such a well-built capsule wardrobe, where everything goes together and I always feel like the best version of myself when I step out the door in the morning. I love playing around with my style and the things I already own, so I do try to be creative about it – probably more than the average person, but that’s also because this is my job and I’m so passionate about showing people that a little (but the right things) goes a long way.
How long have you had a capsule wardrobe and what were your biggest struggles in the beginning?
I’m going towards my third year with a capsule wardrobe, and I’m enjoying it so much still even though I’ve altered it a bit to fit my own life and preference through time. I
think that’s really essential and that’s what a capsule wardrobe is really about: building it so it fits YOU. No fixed number of items can ever really define that, but it can certainly be helpful in the beginning. My biggest struggles (but also the biggest lessons I’ve learned) were facing the fact that I had bought so many cheap and bad quality items in the past that I kind of had to replace these along the way. The first year it was all about learning to think quality above quantity, but also to teach my inner former shopaholic, that buying new all the time won't make me happier, and I came up with alternative ways to “reinvent” my wardrobe.
You find the best secondhand pieces. When did you start shopping secondhand and what advice do you have for those who are on the fence about buying used clothing?
Oh, I have been buying secondhand since I was 16 actually! However, it was not until the beginning of 2017 when I really started making it my first priority when it comes to shopping for new clothes, since it is the most sustainable way to enjoy fashion. I’ve made a very thorough guide on my channel on how to get started, because I know it can be overwhelming to some people. But my best tip is to style vintage and secondhand finds with more contemporary items, to make it look more modern and chic and less grandma, haha! Also, I try to incorporate new habits when you want to shop for new items for your wardrobe; if you’re really keen on a velvet blazer one season, why not try searching the online secondhand shops or browsing a local shop to see if you can find a secondhand alternative?
Any favorite responsible brands?
My absolute favourites are Everlane and People Tree, both because of the ethics,
quality and general outlook of their collections (joining great style with sustainability), but also because they are ethical to the core. They haven’t just made one line within the rest of their fast fashion collections. They are truly committed and don’t just see sustainability as a new way of selling more clothes. I would love for more brands to have the courage to go down that road.
What tips do you have for people who are looking to evolve their style?
Now I’m not just saying this because I am a huge fan of capsule wardrobes, but building a capsule wardrobe is such a great experiment if you’re in a bit of a style rut.
You learn SO much along the way, and you’ll become more certain about your own style and preferences, but you’ll also constantly be aware of what kind of clothes that actually fit your real life. I have 5 steps I like to work within: define your lifestyle, define your go-to looks, define your favourite colours, consider what is flattering and feels good on your body and lastly stay true to your own style.
Every time I watch one of your YouTube videos, I see such beautiful and minimalist images of your home. What minimalist approaches do you have for your living space and what influenced you to make those decisions?
Thank you so much! I’ve always been one of those people who can’t concentrate with too much physical clutter around me. I have pretty high inner activity, and that just becomes much louder when there’s mess around me too, haha! In the beginning of 2017, I really wanted to declutter our home very thoroughly though, and I did that buy using the Konmari method which I can highly recommend. I think decluttering your home (and you life in general) is essential, when you want to start living a more sustainable and balanced life.
With all the confusion in this world about buying more instead of actually buying less, how would you suggest people tune out all the noise this holiday season, or just in general?
This may sound a bit anti-social, but I actually try to stay away from watching too much television (I use services like Netflix and HBO instead), and I also try not to watch or read too many news. We are constantly bombarded with headlines like “buy this!”, “look like this”, “you need this!”, and it’s just too much to cope with sometimes. I’d also highly recommend you to declutter the profiles you follow on social media. If you follow someone who makes you feel bad about yourself, like your missing a lot of material things to make your life complete, or makes you feel tempted to buy a lot of things all the time, try unfollowing them for a while. Even though I am one of those people who really LOVES social media, because it has taught me so much and it allows me to stay connected to like-minded people all over the world, I think the trick is to not only follow the “right” kind of people but also to leave your phone on the nightstand sometimes. Unplug and enjoy real life!
Your YouTube channel is seriously the best. I love it so much! What was one of your favorite videos you created, and why? Would you like to share the video with us?
You’re so kind, thank you so much for your support! I think my favourite video has to be the one that started it all, even though the quality of my content has evolved A LOT since then, haha! In the spring of 2016 I uploaded a video called “Get started: capsule wardrobe,” and after uploading it, things just evolved in such high speed.
I guess people liked the idea of someone making a more visual guide on how to create a capsule wardrobe. Since then a lot has happened, and so one of my more recent and also one of my absolute personal favourite videos has to be the one called “The perfect basic wardrobe,” because it also shows how the quality of my content has evolved since I uploaded the first guide.
You are now one of the thought leaders of an ethical and responsible movement. How does it feel knowing that you are influencing so many people to use less, to choose wisely and to take care of what they already own?
Wow, what a compliment!! I have to say that I feel amazing. The general atmosphere on my social platforms brings so much joy into my life. I feel like I have truly reached that point I wanted to so bad, when I first started my blog: that I wanted to work with fashion in a new and more balanced way. People are so sweet, kind and generous and I’ve gotten in contact with so many cool people all over the world already (including yourself!), and it’s just amazing. Uploading that first fashion video on my channel 1.5 years ago I never thought I would be here today. I know people always say that, but I had no expectations of that at all. So I feel so honoured and thankful, that I get to help and inspire so many people all over the world.
Signe Hansen is the creator behind the blog and YouTube channel, Use Less. Some fun facts about Signe are that she's a 27-year-old small town girl from Denmark, with a bachelor's degree in communication & media strategy. She also has a degree in fashion design, and has had several internships and jobs working as a design assistant for various womenswear brands. Signe recently quit a promising position as a full-time clothing designer/assistant to be able to work on a more freelance basis, and to be able to discover the world of sustainable fashion and lifestyle as part of her job. She lives with her amazing husband who she met 9 years ago. Together, they have a little puppy named Oskar, and a cat named Luna.