Great Story From Forbes Including GreenEarth Affiliates
Monetize Your Closet With New Peer-To-Peer Fashion Marketplace, Wardrobe
The millennial consumer psyche has changed the way we think about fashion and how we shop. Is it instantly gratifying, convenient, and am I getting the most out of my purchase? Is this product sustainable? Can I test-drive before buying, or rent without having to buy at all? Newly launched mobile app, Wardrobe appeals to these behaviors by offering a digital platform that allows users to both monetize items in their own closet that might not get a ton of play, or rent product from peers in the same space: a new approach to the sharing economy in the world of fashion.
Whether you’re the owner or renter, the point of exchange takes place in one of 30 environmentally friendly dry cleaners in Manhattan and Brooklyn called “Wardrobe Hubs”, thanks to a fruitful partnership with J’s Cleaners as well as Next Cleaners, the city’s largest GreenEarth network of launderers. Each hub serves as a multi-purpose fulfillment center with environmentally-friendly cleaning technology and a range of services committed to sustainability, and more importantly, it is a “storefront” which provides a human face for every transaction. This process creates a consistent experience, guarantees cleanliness, eliminates the material waste that comes with packaging, and avoids a potentially awkward in-person hand-off between users. What’s in it for the Hubs? Each location benefits tremendously from the influx of new customers and dry-cleaning revenue from each Wardrobe rental.
Wardrobe is in public beta and available to download on the App store with just a few steps to get your account started. The user-friendly interface navigates you through the usual credentials and asks for your dress and shoe size as well as height, so the app can begin generating listings for items you might like. If you’re looking to borrow, you can search based on item category, rental cost, color, brand, and even fabric, where you can then sift through a carousel of images which show both product and lifestyle shots before “booking” the item up to the designated rental time limit. If you’re renting an item from your closet, the process is equally as simple. Users upload a clear photo of themselves wearing the item and determine a price as well as rental time period, which must be at least one week. Wardrobe “stylists” then suggest a price based on retail value, but what’s listed is ultimately up to the owner. These stylists are also responsible for approving all submissions from the product description to imagery to ensure quality in Wardrobe’s collective closet. Once the item is live, the renter can chat with the owner through the app to discuss more personal details like fit or how they like to style the piece themselves. This direct communication element is a key prong for millennials who seek a high quality and trustworthy experience.
Adarsh Alphons, founder of Wardrobe first conceptualized this innovative model while attending a wedding in his hometown of Manimala, India. While admiring the elaborate vestments of his fellow guests, Alphons thought about how many of his own clothes at home remained untouched, and wondered if he could normalize a world of renting out your closet to strangers in lieu of constantly spending money on new wear. Prior to Wardrobe, Adarsh founded ProjectArt, now the nation’s largest art school, without owning a single building. Adarsh’s expertise in building smart partnerships and operationally-efficient organizations made ProjectArt a leader in its field and a nationally-scaled enterprise. In 2015, Adarsh was made a CNN Hero for ProjectArt’s social impact.
“Under the hood, Wardrobe is a sophisticated and deeply thoughtful data-science platform,” Alphons shared with Forbes. “We view each user as a unique addition to our amazing community of style-makers and style-seekers. We get to know our user’s stylistic choices right away. For example, if they like vintage plaid, French couture, or have a love for floral silk gowns, we will recommend closets, apparel, accessories and shoes that the user might love. The app also has proprietary algorithms that build connections and trust within the user community, geo-location-based services, as well as end-to-end encryption to ensure all user data is protected.” Wardrobe now counts over 300 designer items in their collective closet like Gucci, Christian Dior, Chanel, Chloe, Mansur Gavriel and Diane Von Furstenberg, to name a few. For the style mavens, you can score coveted accessories like a Staud Moreau Saddle or Danse Lente Mini Johnny – the handbags you’ve seen on Instagram and have contemplated purchasing.
While the peer-to-peer borrowing model via a mobile app isn’t new, Wardrobe is committed to their pillar of sustainability in every element of the business. The app itself handles all means of exchange where no waste is engendered, and the Wardrobe Hubs integrate GreenEarth cleaning technology, using liquified sand (or silicone) which is non-hazardous and non-toxic to the environment and people. When silicone is released into the environment, it safely breaks down into sand making it safe for the air, water, soil and one’s clothes. Even the Wardrobe bags that are provided when picking up rented items are recycled material and economically cleaned beforehand. Millennials identify the textile industry as a major polluter and are acutely concerned about harmful substances in clothing, and as confirmed by Oeko-Tex reports, 69% of millennials try to check the sustainable “box” when acquiring clothes – with Wardrobe’s tactical approach to certifying eco-friendly processes, Adarsh Alphons is hoping to charm those who are making strategic choices.
Wardrobe by nature is a rental marketplace, but Alphons is hoping he is curating a community of style experts who can grow and share aspirational closets at never-achieved-before prices, which elucidates his tactful choice of unveiling the app with the help of influencers, Alyssa Coscarelli and Sydney Sadick. Alphons explained, “We specifically reached out to Alyssa and Sydney with our model because of their high level of engagement with their followers. They are consistently creating a dialogue through social media about trends, new brands, and tips on how to succeed in fashion. They also happened to be searching for a way to give a piece of their own style to their followers too, and Wardrobe fills an unspoken but existing need to monetize these clothes.” Wardrobe has a comprehensive influencer on-boarding strategy with plans to add new closets every week. Influencers help the app achieve the aspirational element of its fashion offerings along with Instagram traction to incite downloads, while allowing them to profit off their large inventories of apparel and accessories usually gifted from brands.
For now, Wardrobe can be enjoyed by users in New York City, but Alphons confirms that his goal is to be in every mid-to-large sized city in the U.S. starting in the near future. Based on tremendous user growth and robust engagement within only the first month post-launch, the company feels optimistic about its expansion strategy.