NEW YORK — Don’t call it a rental service.
Cofounders Trisha Gregory and Alexandra Lind Rose are today introducing Armarium, a site with a corresponding off-line space in the St. Regis hotel here that allows clients to borrow high-end apparel and accessories for a fraction of their retail price. Gregory called it a “convenience offering for a high net-worth consumer and an access play for many aspirational [consumers].” The two are adamant about using the word “borrow” versus “rental” to describe their core service.
Merchandise ranges from $2,000 to $15,000 at retail, and fees to borrow are 15 percent of that price. That means a $5,000 coat is $750 to rent or a $2,000 gown costs $300.
Twenty designers have already partnered with Armarium, ranging from established brands like Etro, Ferragamo, Sonia Rykiel and Nina Ricci to a crop of buzzworthy, emerging talents such as Alessandra Rich, Osman and Johanna Ortiz. Peter Pilotto, Mugler and Prabal Gurung are also participating in Armarium’s launch.
Its Web site, Armarium.com, shows the looks available to borrow and lets potential clients book an appointment at the St. Regis pop-up. An invite-only mobile app will launch early next year, and a permanent New York City showroom will open around the same time. The current space will remain open through Dec. 24. Armarium will then set up shop at the St. Regis in Aspen, Colo., from Dec. 28 through Jan. 2.
Gregory described the pop-up as a “European hunting lodge.” It was designed by Bronson van Wyck and also sells complimentary items such as hostess gifts from Aerin Lauder.
While operations such as Rent the Runway have paved the way for Armarium, chipping away the stigma once associated with renting and making borrowing clothing and accessories more common, Gregory insisted that this venture is different. Similar to how Gwynnie Bee is a rental service for the plus-size market and Rent the Runway caters to the contemporary and designer space, Armarium specializes in statement and more editorial pieces from the very high end. Much of the product being lent retails for more than $5,000.
“Rent the Runway is different in product and brand matrix,” Gregory said, noting that the soon-to-launch app is invite only and on-call styling services extend to one’s home, where if someone is short on time, a series of looks and corresponding accessories can be brought right to their door.
“There was a need for a service that could provide statement pieces that you can borrow for one night,” Rose added, citing items such as a beaded jacket or the finale look off the runway.
The site and space will launch with primarily current season wares, but a few key pieces from seasons past will be part of the initial lineup, Gregory said. As the company grows, the team will begin to collect statement pieces to complement the arrival of new product each season. Armarium works with brands in a wholesale capacity, purchasing looks the same way a retailer would.
In addition to the local New York City clientele, Gregory and Rose see New York City’s influx of tourists as a significant source of revenue for the company as it scales. Already, guests visiting during the holiday season and staying at the St. Regis have booked appointments with Armarium via the hotel’s concierge service. But that is just the beginning, said Gregory and Rose, who said a centrally located showroom will be easy to get to for anyone visiting from out-of-town and needs to borrow an outfit for a wedding, event or meeting.
“Brands think it’s an interesting retail styling concept because it is complementary to their full-price pieces,” Gregory said, noting that stylists will push out brand partners’ main collections to purchase alongside items they borrow.
So far, the venture has received funding from individual investors, some within the fashion industry (Gregory declined to name names), and the two will likely try to raise a venture round of funding later this year or early next year.