Are you bored of the clothes in your cupboard? Are you looking not to repeat your clothes for every occasion? If you answered yes, your questions are answered in the form of a new trend – that of apparel rentals.
Estimates peg the fashion rental market in India including western and ethnic wear to be worth a whopping USD 4-5 billion. “Youngsters don’t anymore want to own a lot of things, but still want to live life to the fullest. Also, women hate repeating outfits. Renting is a great solution for that. LibeRent is the brand for women who are smart and independent and uncompromising when it comes to their style preferences. We started with this concept when we witnessed that there is a dire demand in this segment and people prefer to rent than to buy,” opines Sahyujyah Srinivas, CEO and Founder, LibeRent. Borrowing clothes is something Indians have been doing for decades. “For generations we have known that there’s very little merit in buying expensive anarkalis, lehengas or saris which will barely be worn again and so best to wear your relatives clothes. We with Swishlist have just taken this philosophy further and given women the choice to go beyond the wardrobes of their friends and relatives and dip into our ‘wardrobe’ so to speak, of the best designer labels and latest trends. Think of us as a cousin with an ever expanding closet of the best designer clothes,” say Radhika Bansal & Vedika Oberoi, Co-founders, Swishlist. Likewise Candidknots.com offers clothes at 10% of their MRP making it an attractive option.
How it works
LibeRent, the ultimate destination for renting women apparel and aims at the young, cosmopolitan and highly style-conscious women customers who can rent instead of buying fabulous apparel at the most cost-effective rates. LibeRent makes coveted fashion accessible at rates that are 10-15% of the retail price. “I have nothing to wear” is set to become a thing of the past for the chic and modish market of the city as LibeRent goes live here. Currently renting out event-based apparel such as gowns, dresses, sarees and lehengas, the company addresses the desire to wear something special for every noteworthy event. “Women come on to www.liberent.com, browse through outfits in their city, date and occasion and choose what they like. So we have two unique things, here, we do not go by S, M, etc since it varies with brands and creates confusion. We ask for bust waist and hip measurement and custom fit for them. We also have an option of choosing a backup dress, and the customer can try both and pick what she likes. We deliver one day before her event and collect back one day after the event. It goes straight for organic dry cleaning and each outfit is steamed before going to the customer,” explains Srinivas. “The service at Swishlist is very easy to use and comprises of 3 simple steps: The customer chooses an outfit on the site, enters the date they want to wear it and hits book now. The outfit is delivered to their doorstep two days before that date to give them plenty of time to accessorise and get their complete look together. The outfit is then picked up from them the day after, making the return completely hassle free, as simple as that,” say Radhika and Vedika. Shilpa Bhatia, Founder of The Clothing Rental store says, “one can pre select online or on our app. Then book an appointment at either Bandra or Versova store. We attend to each client personally. We help with understanding their need, size, occasion etc. Our standard is 3-day rental, post that one can drop it back to our stores or arrange for a pickup depending on location and availability. There is a rental and a security deposit charge to be paid prior to taking the outfit.” According to Shweta Poddar, Founder Candidknots.com, “we have 3, 6 and 8 day models and we also have a trial option. Most people have a doubt about their size and it ranges between two sizes – say S and M or M and L. We provide an extra dress to reduce our returns as well. In fact we have an option where a customer can book upto five dresses and our customer executive will wait outside their home till they try the clothes.
The apparel rental market is nascent now, but it has a great potential and is growing. The industry has seen some inflow of funding too and seed capital is coming in too. Renting as a new paradigm in consumer behaviour in India is exploding. Gone is the premium attached to ownership – now it’s more of a burden. Be it in traditional markets like housing or now for cars, music, video as well as fashion. Renting allows people to add variety in their choices and makes their money go further. “We have found women in India to be very receptive to the business offering and we have great plans and hopes for this business and see it going from strength to strength. Swishlist, in a very short period of time has seen tremendous traction in the market and we have received a great response from customers. In fact it’s not a rare day where we hear from someone who is simply over the moon to learn about Swishlist and their new found access to the latest trends, the most stylish looks and the biggest designer names; all with the convenience of a few clicks on our site and at a fraction of the price,” say Rdhika & Vedika. There is a new rental start up in every corner. Rentals are mushrooming everywhere, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad or Bangalore. Metro cities are noticing a new trend in this direction. “Shared economy is the future trend. Fast fashion will flourish but at higher price points people might be open to new experiences like renting provided the quality controls are in check,” says Shilpa. While the market is growing, there is still a taboo attached to talking about the fact that the clothes are rented. “People do hesitate to say it out loud that the clothes are rented especially if it is at their own functions. However if it is for a pre wedding shoot, people are more open to speaking about it,” says Shweta. Incidentally Candidknots is seeing a growth of 35% to 40% month on month.
Trends on outfits, crop top lehengas, ones with lesser work, but trendier are popular. Co-ords are in demand. One of the main draws of LibeRent is that it offers a chat head called Liri who is like every user’s best friend helping her pick the perfect outfit for any occasion. With increased usage, Liri’s suggestions become more personalised and better suited to the user’s specific preferences. Swishlist features a collection from the top Indian and Western designer labels including Anita Dongre, Manish Malhotra, Bhaavya Bhatnagar, Pratyusha Garimella and Ridhima Bhasin to BCBGMAXAZRIA, Diane Von Furstenberg and Herve Leger- to name only a few of the labels we offer on rent. Like with any business there are challenges in the apparel rental market.
Coping with client demands, working on extremely tight margins, rising dry cleaning and maintainable costs are some issues. “There are many challenges. Starting from the basic unit economics and as a company you have to make a choice; either sacrifice profitability and scale like no tomorrow or stay small, build your brand and burn as little as possible. Another challenge we have faced is the size of the market, which is not a concern as much as it is a fact. Customers are still weary to rent and the only way they will is if they absolutely need to, and this “need” market is super small. Imagine the rental industry, its nascent and will take a long while before it even becomes a lifestyle choice for a customer. Until then all we can do is either burn through funds and scale, or stay small and service the organic customers and accept reality,” says Mithun Chandra, Co-Founder & CEO, Duffl. Shweta adds, “this is a capital intensive model so I know that to be able to attract and retain customers I will need to increase my inventory and scale the stocks upwards. This is especially true for women’s clothing as for men suits especially come in a few standard colours.” The rental market is poised to take things to the next level and with business models that have shown much success the demand for rented apparel seems on an upswing.
This story appeared in the Nov-2016 issue of Apparel Magazine: Apparel rented.pdf