Faced with the prospect of buying her teenage daughter another expensive dress she’d wear only once or twice, Jen Forman created Charlotte’s Closet, a web site that offers Gen Z access to fashion’s sharing economy. Charlotte’s Closet rents, at up to 75 percent below retail, dresses and gowns for myriad social occasions, including proms, homecomings, bat mitzvahs, sweet sixteens and sorority formals. Dresses arrive the week of the event and can be kept for five days.
Start-up Haverdash, which charges $59 per month for an unlimited rental program, appeals to Millennials. The adult apparel rental arena is getting more crowded with specialty retailers such as Loft and Urban Outfitters joining leaders Stitch-Fix and Rent the Runway.
Charlotte’s Closet offers 500 styles from 30 designers, with new items added daily. Clients can search dresses by color, size, brand, occasion or date of event. Dresses arrive with a complimentary backup size is included, and the site offers free returns and takes care of all dry cleaning. Customers can try up to three dresses six months prior to an event for a $29.95 fee, which will be applied to the rental.
Renting apparel seems especially relevant to Gen Z, whose members are between four and 24 years old, and have less disposable income than older cohorts.
“We’re bringing our concept and highly personalized customer experience to the overlooked teen market,” said Forman, Charlotte’s Closet founder and chief executive officer. “It’s time teens and their parents benefited from the momentum of fashion’s shared economy. We’re looking forward to seeing the company’s growth with our new Endless service.”
Endless ships one, two or three items to subscribers for $49.95, $69.95 and $99.95 per month, respectively. Products can we worn for the entire month, and when returned, trigger a new shipment. If any styles are keepers, they can be purchased at a discount.
Haverdash charges $59 per month for three looks and unlimited rotations so subscribers can try, wear and return items from brands such as Donna Morgan, Vince Camuto, Maggy London and Modcloth, as often as they want.