By: Jyotsna Singh
New DelhI; Buying designer clothes for a fortune and not being able to wear them again always feels like a waste of money. For some, wearing a Sabyasachi or a Manish Malhotra designed bridal lehenga was an impossible dream. However, years ago, entrepreneurs like, Shilpa Bhatia and Neeraj Wadhera from The Clothing Rental and Wrapd respectively, identified this space in the market and started their own fashion rental businesses from different parts of the country. These businesses provide premium fashion apparel at a rent of 10%-15% of the retail price.
Globally, online clothing rental market size is estimated to reach $1,856 million by 2023 and growing at a CAGR of 10.6% from 2017 to 2023, says a report by Allied Market Research. The industry is estimated to grow at an even faster rate in India. “India is an immense market; it's a diamond mine waiting to explode. The Indian wear is targeted for the bridal industry, that market size is 100,000 crores. Menswear market is stated to grow 9% per annum and reach 1,76,000 crores by 2020,” says Shilpa Bhatia, the founder of The Clothing Rental.
Demographics of the consumer
This spurt in growth can be attributed to more and more millennials joining the workforce with an increasing disposable income to spend on premium products. The market has seen a surge in business over the last few years with more than a dozen start-ups making entry into the industry. Neeraj defines consumers of Wrapd, as “not just fashion forward but people looking for optimal options. They want to save money, time, storage and maintenance headaches.”
Obtaining varied styles from different designers to cater to a fashion forward consumer base is one of the difficult parts of this industry. Staying up to date with the fashion world, understanding the current demand and predicting the future trends only make up the tip of the iceberg. According to Shilpa, it is her prior experience in the industry and a vast network of contacts that has helped her. “I find out about designer’s portfolio, and urge them to provide clothes that I like at reasonable discounts. I also follow brands from around the world, and source directly from them when required.” She also pointed that India run a little behind on global trends. But she follows the international trends closely, buys clothes accordingly and waits for the demand to pick up here.
The rental business is not just economical but also promotes clothing utilization. A report by Ellen MacArthur Foundation last year found, “An estimated $500 billion value is lost every year due to clothing that's barely worn and rarely recycled. And the average number of times a garment is worn before it ceases to be used—has decreased by 36 percent compared to 15 years ago.
The business of fashion rental is not looking to become a substitute for apparel retail business. It wants to establish a new and separate market that has better offerings. However, when asked about the potential of the industry Neeraj claims that fashion rental will take over fashion retail brands in India in the coming years. While Shilpa thinks rental and shared economy is the future trend and would soon be expanding The Clothing Rental to US, UK and China.