The fashion and retail industry’s negative impact on the environment is well known. The lack of sustainability is what led to the launch of brands such as Rent the Runway, ThredUp, and Poshmark. Now, a new rental startup is hitting the market with a goal of steering the fashion industry towards a permanently eco-friendly future.
Wardrobe is a new rental brand that uses neighborhood dry cleaners as its distribution hubs. After piloting a program across New York City in 2019, it’s now taking its business nationwide, where shoppers can rent vintage, luxury, and everyday clothing. Wardrobe offers women and children’s pieces through its website and app where customers can shop brands such as Alice & Oliva, Gucci, and Chloé. As a peer-to-peer shop, users can “open a closet” and rent their own fashion as well as shop others’. Those renting out their clothing first send it to a partnering dry cleaner, where it is picked up and returned by the renter. Upon its return, the dry cleaner will launder it and ship it back to the original owner. Thanks to this set-up, Wardrobe refers to itself as the “Airbnb of fashion”, which is fitting given it’s backed by Airbnb co-founder Nate Blecharczyk.
For its national launch, Wardrobe hosted a three-day, virtual panel featuring Vogue’s social media director Lucie Zhang, founder and CEO of Remake Emma Loewe, and Cyan Banister, an angel investor to Uber and Space X. The “Thanks For Sharing” event covered topics about fashion, tech, and sustainability as well as what role Wardrobe can play in the market. Launching Wardrobe during the Coronavirus pandemic could help it reach younger consumers, as the crisis has propelled their desire to shop more consciously. The topic of cleanliness, though, could make potential consumers hesitant, particularly during the health crisis. However, sanitation is top of mind for Wardrobe, as evidenced by the starring role dry cleaners play in its rental process. Additionally, Gen Z’s consumer tendencies align with the luxury market according to a Gartner report, yet 40% of them also shop resale, which could make Wardrobe primed for their engagement.
Through its new marketplace, Wardrobe could help ease worries of environmental wear or unkempt clothing, allowing rental shoppers to do their part in progressing sustainability while enjoying luxury fashion guilt-free.