Online dress rental startup Your Closet hires out high-end designer dresses at a fraction of the retail cost

- June 15, 2016 3 MIN READ
Your Closet

We can’t all be popular, but if you’re someone that is invited to multiple formals, weddings or fancy occasions than you’re going to need a closet full of dresses. We spend so much money on clothes that are only a part of our lives for those very few event hours, but God forbid we ever wear the same dress twice.

Like many of us Briella Brown has experienced the problem of having too many places to go and not enough dresses to suit the occasion. Instead of buying new dresses she decided to make a change and start her very own startup, Your Closet.

Your Closet is an online dress rental store where women can hire high-end designer dresses for a fraction of the retail cost. Customers can hire dresses for between 15 to 20 percent of their retail price, so for a $1000 designer dress the consumer will pay around $150, plus a $5 insurance fee that covers any mishaps like broken zippers, red wine spills, and so on. However, for permanently damaged dresses that don’t fall into the easy to fix category, consumers must pay the gap of the full price of the dress, and then it’s theirs to keep.

Since its launch last year, Your Closet has partnered with designers including Alex, Camilla, Nicholas and Josh Goot. Brown said that she is about to introduce Thurley’s line of lace dresses and also fascinators in time for the spring racing season so customers will be able to rent at a whole look.

One of the things that was really important to me at the beginning of the business was fostering Australian designers. I’m really proud that we partner directly with our designers to have all of their consent to rent their dresses,” Brown said.

“[The designers] are really excited because it opens up a total, addressable market to women who might not be able to afford the dress yet, but they can rent it and create and organic brand affiliation.”

Brown began working on Your Closet at age 16, but said that she never thought of herself as an entrepreneur.

“I had this vision and I just wanted to get there, but over the past two or three years it’s been like, all those things that you don’t think about when starting a business, like I’m not that proficient in technology and logistics and things like that, but you just have to figure out a way to make it all happen,” she admitted.

The startup recently appeared on Shark Tank, where Brown secured an $80,000 investment for a split 30 percent stake from the founder of Boost Juice, Janine Allis and founder of RedBalloon, Naomi Simson.

Since securing the funding on Shark Tank, which was filmed earlier this year, Your Closet has opened up a warehouse in Brookvale and also partnered with delivery company Shippit.

Along with Shippit, Your Closet has also partnered with an environmentally friendly dry cleaning company in Sydney, so clothes can be cleaned upon return to be ready for the next hire.

Currently Your Closet has 600 dresses in stock from sizes six to 16. Brown said that she wants to triple the startup’s design selection and also begin offering sizes 18 and 20 to cover more body shapes and sizes.

In terms of expansion, Brown said she has plans this year to move internationally, but of course Your Closet will need to address its main issue of logistics if the startup is to stick with its goal of promoting Australian designers, or building up a new base of up and coming designers overseas.

Ironing out these logistics issues may take some time, but with the trade and delivery market expanding through services like Amazon and Alibaba it is now more possible than ever to deliver parcels fast and free all around the world. In terms of regional areas Australia may even begin to see delivery by drone with in the next year or so hit into the mainstream delivery process.

Looking at the fashion startup market, Australia is quite saturated with apps like Carousel, Yordrobe, The First Thread, Remoda and 99Closets selling, buying and swapping pre-loved fashion and uniquely Australian fashion. Through social media sharing capabilities on Facebook and Twitter, Singapore-based fashion app Carousell has become one of the most popular online platforms to swap and sell pre-loved fashion. To date the app has secured US$6.8 million from two rounds of investment.

However, with Brown focusing on the formal wear niche and leveraging the popularity of high-end Australian designers, Your Closet may be able to cut through the noise and deliver a fashion platform that has legs to grow and expand both locally and internationally.

Image: Briella Brown. Source: Supplied.