Nearing the final month of its stay at the XRC Labs accelerator program at The New School’s Parsons School of Design, the start-up WearAway, a digital platform for fashion rentals, is adding another dimension to its business model.
The company currently offers 2,000 kinds of apparel, shoes and accessories for rentals for film, TV and advertising production. Founder and chief executive officer Lee Greene will be offering wardrobe stylists and costume designers access to select designer archives. Prior to this, most of the rental items were sourced from wardrobe rental houses. Nicole Miller will be the first designer to offer a select assortment to WearAway users. Three hundred styles will be offered via the app in about two weeks.
In her Elite modeling days, Greene worked for Miller for two or three years. Miller said Monday, “She’s just such a sharp girl and is always so motivated. I think it’s remarkable that she’s found this niche that hasn’t been exploited at all to get these custom libraries online.”
Stylists and celebrities who visit Miller’s Seventh Avenue showroom tend to borrow her designs from the early Nineties a lot, so WearAway seemed to be a natural extension of that. Greene’s editorial-friendly and other choices were gleaned from more than 1,000 items. The WearAway alliance goes hand-in-hand with Miller’s strategy to get clothes out on TV shows and movies. The company plans to make more of a push on the fact that studio services are available. Miller described WearAway as “a really interesting concept and something that’s not out there. There’s definitely a need for it because movies and TV are so huge right now, not to mention celebrity dressing.”
Greene said Monday that she is in talks with a New York fund to invest and serve as a strategic partner for WearAway, which is currently a five-person operation. Rentals are available for 24-hour, three-day or seven-day periods with a seven-day rental for a pair of shoes averaging $150 and a dress costing between $200 and $300. In the next 12 months, WearAway expects designer archive rentals to account for 60 percent of the total business and rental houses to comprise 40 percent, Greene said.
A former fashion model, Greene’s original business plan was to offer peer-to-peer fashion rentals. She first developed an app for that while at LaunchPad L.A. After realizing that many fashion rental libraries did not have an online presence, Greene wanted to change that to spare stylists the hassle of “schlepping around and trying to sort through thousands of garments in dimly lit buildings. It will also help these businesses a lot.”