Two examples of the circular economy — What Goes Around Comes Around and Armarium.com — have joined forces to offer more options for sustainably consuming fashion.
Bought & Borrowed, launching today through Sunday, offers designer ready-to-wear for rent from Armarium as well as luxury vintage pieces from WGACA that will be available for rental and purchase for 30 days in-store at WGACA’s East Hampton boutique and online at Armarium.com.
The online rental platform selected looks from summer-friendly brands such as Missoni, Dundas and Emilia Wickstead, while the luxury vintage retailer chose items from Chanel, Gucci, Dior Versace and Jean Paul Gaultier, among others.
“We’ve seen a huge shift in the evolution of the customer,” said Trisha Gregory, cofounder of Armarium. “She’s buying full-price investment pieces, and reselling at resale. For things she’s only going to wear once, she’ll rent. What’s exciting is that we share an audience and customer with WGACA.
“Sustainability is very important to customers,” Gregory added. “The resale and the rental markets are very exciting. We’re working in the luxury space with collections for fashion and trend-driven consumers. Now, for the first time, we’ll be able to offer vintage pieces for rent on our web site.”
“Our business, ironically, always had an aspect of rental for films,” said WGACA cofounder Seth Weisser. “We’ve built a clientele for event dressing and specialize in helping them feel more comfortable with the pre-owned luxury. Armarium takes that perspective by renting iconic gowns and pieces. Now we’re giving those women the opportunity to participate in pre-owned and rent a $15,000 piece, which they’ll then be able to put back in play. That’s where the consumer trend is heading. We’ve always been part of this circular economy.”
Armarium’s stylists will offer fashion expertise during the East Hampton pop-up, which will be the first of many collaborations for the brands as they look to further service their clients’ needs in key luxury markets.
“The industry has evolved so quickly, even in the past three months,” Gregory said. “Sustainability is driving that sense of urgency. This is an exciting collaboration and is the first rental plus resale partnership.
“We’re bringing on more and more luxury brands each season,” Gregory said. “The conversation around rental and resale with luxury brands has evolved. They know how the customer is shopping. WGACA is protecting the brand equity of a [label]. Our stylists are conveying the message of the house. I think the platforms are in partnership with luxury brands.”
Gregory said Armarium gets “all of our product directly from the brands. It’s current season, directly sourced from the brands and in partnership with the brands.”
WGACA can’t say that — yet. The retailer last year was sued by Chanel, which alleged counterfeiting and trademark infringement, among other things. Chanel also sued The RealReal on similar grounds. Weisser said luxury brands are “all looking at the pre-owned market and trying to see where they want to enter and how they’ll support resale.”
If they don’t, Weisser added, the “brands won’t be on the right side of the sustainability curve. The quality of luxury brands means they’re made so well and should last into the future. [Resale] should be embraced by the luxury market because it kind of validates what they do. We sell pieces for higher prices than their original price.”
Of Chanel’s legal action, Weisser said, “We’re in a lawsuit. We’re talking to Chanel. It’s an open discussion. I don’t think we’re a party to intent. Eventually, we’ll come to some type of arrangement that will make both parties comfortable.”
In the meantime, WGACA and Armarium are focused on an invitation-only preview event tonight at the boutique with proceeds benefiting the Watermill Center for Performing Arts. Weisser said WGACA will be dressing clients for the organization’s annual summer benefit and auction on July 27. “We’ve looked at really special eveningwear from Dior, Chanel and Alaïa,” he said. “It’s a summer event curation with beautiful beaded gowns. The summer Hamptons gala season is a little unique.”