Mamta Arora came up with the idea for her start-up to solve the challenges of sustainability in the fast-paced fashion industry. She identified a market gap in the UAE for a clothing subscription service that would help alleviate consumer insane spending on clothing.
“You must have heard people say that they can’t find a dress to wear or that they don’t want to repeat their outfits because it’s already on their social media feed. However, their closets can be jam-packed with clothes, ”says Ms. Arora, founder of Rent Your Wardrobe, a clothing rental platform in Dubai.
“Today, we don’t buy clothes out of need, but rather to stand out by wearing the best and new clothes every time. Over the past two decades since fast fashion entered our lives, we thoughtlessly buy clothes and throw them away without realizing the hidden cost involved in creating them. This endless purchase must be stopped, or at least diverted towards circularity. “
The fashion industry needs business models that keep clothes longer and safe, renewable materials, according to a report from the UK-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which is a charity committed to creating a circular economy.
The sector was responsible for some 2.1 billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, or about 4% of the global total, according to a McKinsey study. To put this into context, the fashion industry emits about the same amount of global greenhouse gases per year as the economies of France, Germany and the UK combined.
Rent Your Wardrobe aims to solve this excess problem with its monthly, quarterly and annual clothing subscription packages, which offer customers a choice of clothing to suit their needs, free cleaning and sanitizing services, as well as free pick-up and drop-off services.
The Dubai-based company also helps people sell their second-hand clothes, promoting circular fashion. The platform was incorporated in 2020 and began operations in May 2021.
“It was the time when people faced a lot of setbacks and realized the importance of saving money and resources. The fashion industry creates a lot of waste every year, so solution-based platforms are the need of the hour, ”said the founder.
The global clothing rental market revenue is expected to reach around $ 7 billion by 2025, according to Statista.
Rent Your Wardrobe currently offers a collection of women’s clothing, including casual wear, party wear, and formal wear. The company, which currently focuses on the United Arab Emirates, aims to soon expand its services to include men’s and children’s clothing, and also to expand geographically to other GCC countries and beyond in the years to to come.
“The total female population of UAE is 28% (approximately 2.65 million), of which our target segment is in the 25-54 age group comprising approximately 1.47 million consumers,” said Ms. Arora, who has been in the Emirates for five years.
The business is available on a digital platform (both web and mobile) where customers can register and explore the rental collection. They can select their clothing choice, subscription package and pay online. Thanks to the platform, they can place an order and have it delivered to their door, organize an exchange or a return, she adds.
Customers also have the flexibility to upgrade, downgrade, or even unsubscribe from their plan without worrying about losing money or making long-term contractual commitments.
“We are also working on a digital test room where people can add their face, hair type, skin type and body dimensions to create a digital avatar of themselves and try on clothes online before they go. ‘choose our services,’ explains Ms. Arora, who started it. career in an IT company in India and then turned to the beauty and fashion industry to pursue her passion.
Rent Your Wardrobe enjoys the first-come-first benefit as it is the first company in the UAE to offer subscription-based clothing rental services, the founder said. There are platforms that offer clothing for rent, however, there are none that offer clothing rental subscription services in the United Arab Emirates or in the GCC, she adds.
“Rent Your Wardrobe wants to meet the daily dress needs of customers rather than just for occasions. People should start to consider clothing subscriptions like any other service to meet their daily needs, ”Ms. Arora said.
The fully self-funded start-up is at an advanced bootstrap stage in terms of funding. The founder has made significant investments in inventory, technology, hygiene and marketing, which represents the company’s biggest investment pie to date.
“We aim to achieve the size of our customer base and the size of our expected income before seeking external funding at the right stage,” said Ms Arora, who declined to disclose how much she had invested in the start-up. for confidentiality reasons.
The company’s business model is based on subscriber customers and aims to reach 1,000 such customers by the end of the first year of operation.
“Since the idea is new, we are taking careful and calculated steps. We are focusing more on maintaining strong quality and hygiene checks and balances rather than chasing numbers and then losing them due to poor service and quality, ”said the founder.
The company places the highest importance on maintaining hygiene when renting clothes and follows strict guidelines to keep items in top condition. Employees take care of laundry, dry cleaning and general repairs to increase the life of each garment.
“We follow WHO guidelines to make sure our clothing and customer contact points are protected from health risks,” says Arora.
Rent Your Wardrobe leverages technology to contain costs and has outsourced its last mile, IT and operations to low cost regions.
“In our office, we employ a few people to provide quality, laundry, customer service and inventory-related services,” says Arora.
The biggest challenge facing the start-up is, according to the entrepreneur, the change in mindset of customers regarding clothing rental.
“People still believe that renting clothes is a one-time activity. On our side, we try to make renting a part of everyone’s life, ”she says. “However, I don’t think there is a stigma attached to using pre-loved clothing, at least not with a large part of our customer base.”
“Consumers are smart and understand that the lifespan of a garment is short. Therefore, it is expensive to own it for a short time, so it makes sense to rent it out rather than buy it.
There can be no legitimate start-up without challenges, according to the founder.
“Our faith in this idea and this market is great and especially the challenges we face on a daily basis. “
Q&A with Mamta Arora, Founder of Rent Your Wardrobe
Which already successful start-up would you have liked to start?
A cloud-based cooking business.
What’s your next big dream to come true?
Become the Netflix of the fashion industry.
What new skills have you acquired in the process of launching your start-up?
Digital marketing, clothing recycling, [operating in] pre-loved markets.
If you could start all over again, what would you do differently?
I would allocate the majority of my investment to building the brand.
Who is your role model?
Where do you see yourself after 10 years?
I aspire to Rent Your Wardrobe to be the largest clothing rental platform in the Gulf region.
Update: December 26, 2021 5:00 a.m.