After launching one of the more innovative business models in the digital-first space, fashion rental platform Wardrobe is expanding. With its recent purchase of Dallas-based Rent My Wardrobe, it is gaining a geographic footprint in the southern U.S. and expanding its presence in what its founder calls the “peer-to-peer” fashion space.
“The acquisition came together very quickly, and made a lot of sense,” Wardrobe CEO and Founder Adarsh Alphons told PYMNTS. “Rent My Wardrobe has tens of thousands of users signed onto that platform, and they were early in the peer-to-peer fashion rental space. It’s going to be a very natural fit, as we are leaning into the future of fashion and now we can actually do it at scale. So our customers will have access to more wardrobes and more inventory.”
Like Wardrobe, Rent My Wardrobe encourages members to put their closets online for users to rent and return –but Wardrobe’s model is a bit more complex. The platform allows owners of high-end and distinctive clothing to rent out their items via local dry cleaners. Renters pick up and return clothing at a local participating dry cleaner, which also cleans and stores the items, thereby eliminating Wardrobe’s need for warehouses and shipping fleets. The service is aimed at customers who want to rent items for special occasions or temporarily indulge in high-end fashion and trends.
Alphons said Wardrobe has seen a sharp increase in its business during COVID-19, part of which he attributes to the dry cleaner factor. When members pick up their outfits, they know they have been professionally cleaned, which is a unique part of the company’s business model. He expects that the digital-first economy will continue to support businesses like his as boutiques will need to re-establish themselves after the pandemic subsides and larger stores struggle with foot traffic and online scale and operations issues. Reinvention, he said, is key.
“We believe our model is going to be a new way for fashion to be presented and a new way for people to experience and access fashion,” Alphons predicted. “There’s going to be innovation happening in this space, and we want to be a part of that. We want to do a lot more to bring customers in the door.”
That’s one of the reasons Alphons was excited about RTW. He said Wardrobe intends to fully integrate Rent My Wardrobe, which is valued at $4 million, in time for the holiday season. Rent My Wardrobe’s Founder Rachel Sipperley will join Wardrobe as its vice president of brand and partnerships, and will focus on “getting customers in the door” as she brings a feminist’s outlook and an expertise in customer acquisition and growth. Sipperley created RTW as a business that would empower women to be self-reliant.
“The story of Rent My Wardrobe started when I couldn’t afford a dress for prom,” said Sipperley. “I believe financial independence is the highest form of feminism, and I conceived Rent My Wardrobe as a monetization platform built around a community of women supporting each other.”
“I think she’s a natural leader,” Alphons said. “She’s an asset to any company. She is a way to connect with our core customers. She is an example of each of our customers, so I couldn’t be happier to have her leading customer acquisition. Rachel will also help us recruit talent – ideally, we want people who are motivated, even founders themselves, to be part of that journey.”
Wardrobe launched nationwide shipping in August of this year and has seen a spike in growth ever since. In the past three months, Wardrobe has shipped rental orders to 40-plus states, with a concentration of demand in the south. With the Rent My Wardrobe acquisition, Alphons said Wardrobe will add tens of thousands of customers in states that already have proven demand.