During the epidemic, fashion rental sites struggled as in-person events vanished and office workers left their smarts to collectively shift into soft loungewear. However, as the epidemic fades (hopefully!) and attention shifts to the environmental and social implications of fast fashion, the future of clothing rentals seems brighter once again. There are a variety of rental models in play, ranging from veteran American giants like Rent the Runway, which buys stock to rent and sells consumers subscription packages based on renting a certain number of pieces per month, to hybrid models that manage some stock but also allow users to list and loan out their own designer pieces, to purely peer-to-peer “rent her wardrobe” plays.
Fashion rental company based in the United Kingdom By Rotation, which falls into the latter p2p category, has tried to distinguish out in this vibrant but crowded market by adopting a tech-first and community-focused strategy that it compares to that of a social network. Importantly, it doesn’t have any inventory of its own; it’s all peer-to-peer, according to founder Eshita Kabra, who describes the app as the “Instagram of fashion rentals” — or the “Airbnb of fashion.”
“It has a very social side to it, and it’s really about these repeat tenants that rent from the same woman over and over.” So they follow a lady and wind up with a wardrobe that’s twice as huge,” she told TechCrunch. “They’re essentially living the life of someone else.”
Domestically, By Rotation competes with My Wardrobe HQ and Hurr Collective (as well as a number of U.K. high street fashion businesses branching out into rentals) — but Kabra, the company’s sole creator, is adamant that she has established the UK’s largest peer-to-peer fashion rental platform. “When you compare our user count and listing count to these two [U.K.] players who have actually been around longer and possibly have a bit more money than us, we’re already the largest fashion rental site by far.”
“It’s fascinating that the shortcuts usually lead back to monitoring, purchasing, and fulfilling rental orders.” Whereas, in the beginning, we spent a lot of time — I’d say it was a long and arduous trip — building out the community grassroots. And, of course, we’re putting the majority of our efforts into the technology, which is to construct a social networking platform. You’ll also note that none of the other rental companies in the UK — or anywhere else in the globe — have established a social network like this.
“And I believe that’s where we’re bringing a very, very new viewpoint to fashion sharing and fashion renting.” “I kind of envision it as a fashion app that does more than simply like and save,” she continued. “Instagram and Pinterest are examples of this. When you utilize them, though, there is no real commercial benefit for you – this is where you may truly make money or save money.
“All of the other current, incumbent fashion rental firms in the United Kingdom and the United States, perhaps some in Europe — I know YCloset recently went under — have all been very much focused on the e-commerce sort of strategy.” It’s heavily retail-oriented, with a strong emphasis on convenience. In addition, you’ll have access to designer labels. Inventory is frequently out of current, and it is maintained from a single place. “We don’t do any of it.”