A new clothing rental player arrives today, and this one wants you to head to your local laundromat for communal fashion shows. The folks behind Wardrobe are calling it a “peer-to-peer” fashion rental app, in which the startup partners with local dry cleaners, turning them into “fashion hubs that provide neighborhood access points for renting luxury, designer and vintage clothing.”
Wardrobe is hoping to set itself apart from the fashion rental crowd by solving the sustainable fashion problem while allowing users to earn an income from the excess items sitting in their closets. According to Wardrobe, most people don’t end up wearing the majority of their clothes, so renting out those dust-collecting shoes in the back of your closet can help reduce your wardrobe’s emissions by 24%.
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“It’s not just the fact that you can explore hundreds of closets, but that they’re really good closets,” the company said in the announcement, citing a high-end inventory of luxury brands like Gucci, Balenciaga, Balmain and Chloe, along with vintage designer finds.
As for using dry cleaners as showrooms, it’s part of Wardrobe’s strategy to avoid the overhead expenses associated with operating rental apps, including warehouses and shipping logistics. The platform owns zero inventory and zero overhead, and with help from pre-launch funding, the company plans to scale to other major cities in 2020.
“The beautiful thing about Wardrobe is that it lets you support your local family-owned businesses, dry-cleaners, while reimagining them as our collective closets,” founder and CEO Adarsh Alphons told Observer. “We call them hubs.” He went on to describe the incentive for businesses to bring in extra ongoing revenue due to the item cleanings between rentals. “Meanwhile, the numerous locations provide hyper-local coverage, while their extensive hours of operations give users expanded access to the closet.”
The platform’s debut will be marked by exclusive partnerships with over 40 Manhattan dry cleaners, which will act as pick-up and drop-off hubs for renters and lenders. The company noted that the small business operations will also “ensure that clothes are always clean, safely stored and easily accessible in every neighborhood.”
Wardrobe partners will have the service’s logos displayed in their windows on the interiors, “so that their ordinary customers can discover Wardrobe and get on-boarded,” said Alphons. He also noted that the community aspect, which has made marketplaces like Poshmark and Mercari popular with users, is another core feature of the company’s app.
“From the get-go, we’ve been connecting users through the platform! And we’ve built our app keeping our community and users’ authentic connections with each other at the core,” he explained.
The launch announcement is also being accompanied by a $1.5 million angel funding round, led by Cyan Banister and Ludlow Ventures, along with participation from GroundUp Ventures, HQ Trivia’s founders and Airbnb co-founder Nate Blecharczyk, amongst others.