Wardrobe, a peer-to-peer fashion rental platform backed by Airbnb co-founder Nate Blecharczyk, launched its website across the United States on Tuesday, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The startup has partnered with local dry cleaners to clean garments rented through the platform and support small businesses. Since its New York City pilot in November 2019, users have rented more than $500,000 worth of designer fashion on the platform, allowing both lenders and dry cleaners to earn additional income, the company said.
To kick off its national debut, the company is hosting "Thanks for Sharing," a virtual panel discussion series featuring global fashion leaders like Sophia Li, a journalist and director, formerly at Vogue; Lucie Zhang, social media director at Vogue; Cyan Banister, an angel investor who has funded Uber, Postmates and SpaceX; and other notable guests, per the company press release.
Wardrobe's stated goal is to match unused fashion with demand to gain more use per clothing item and thus steer the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction. Though it planted its roots in New York and has 40 dry cleaning locations, or Hubs, across the city, it noted it has seen four times as many users register for the platform outside of the city.
"We put the fashion authority into the hands of our users and offer them a platform for exchange that addresses all of the problems with borrowing clothes — convenience, cleanliness, and value," Wardrobe CEO and founder Adarsh Alphons said in a statement. "We are confident that Wardrobe will create a dynamic network of renters looking to explore rare, vintage, or in many cases, couture, pieces.”
Despite cleanliness concerns currently clouding the retail sector, there's still activity in the resale and rental market. In early March, Rent the Runway introduced a new subscription service called the "2 Swap plan," which allows customers to rent eight clothing items for $135 per month. In May, Walmart teamed with ThredUp to sell more than 750,000 pre-owned women's and children's items, including apparel, accessories, footwear and handbags.
This is propelled by consumers' growing desire to shop more consciously. ThredUp projects that the resale market will reach $44 billion by 2029, according to a June report. The report also noted that there has been increased adoption of buying used goods among younger demographics. Last year, around 40% of Gen Z and 30% of millennial respondents said they bought used apparel, up from about 26% and 21% in 2016, respectively. Despite the uncertainty the pandemic has brought to much of the retail industry, experts don't expect the circular economy to lose steam any time soon.