Like a lot of mothers, my dress size has fluctuated the past few years from babies, hormones, and stress. It's easy to see how I could own several dresses yet none fit.
Then we downsized our life and I kept only those pieces that fit just right. Not only did my new sparse closet make me feel good, it simplified my decisions about what to wear. There's been a movement towards owning less stuff (ahem, KonMari) and pursuing a different kind of life than our parents, a little more nomadic, perhaps less of the nine-to-five grind. Lives focused more on experiences, not a life conducive to closets full of clothing.
I reached out to Lisa Delorme, co-founder and CEO of Rent frock Repeat, a Canadian designer dress rental company, to learn her thoughts on the shift happening in women's closets to less ownership.
Do you think #KonMari is helping drive the ‘no ownership’ movement? Or is it millennials? What’s the driving force?
Lisa: I think one builds on the other and there is never one thing in isolation that drives a movement.
Millenials have watched their parents be bogged down by things, payment of those things, storing of those things and at the same time they are living in an age where technology is allowing them to not own anything.
Had Uber existed when I was twenty I don’t think I would have bought a car either but unfortunately, it just didn’t so my only option was to buy a car, public transportation, bike or walk and the last three aren’t always an option if you need to make it across town in less than in hour on a winter day.
So I think #KonMari is driving the conversation in the household and technology is giving this generation the ability to share.
How many dresses do you typically rent out in a year? Is there a certain age group that this is particularly popular with and if so, why?
L: As a private company, we don’t share our business results but I can tell you it is in the thousands. We do really well with the 35-55-year-old market and that is because they just have more special events to attend. Beyond prom, an 18-year old doesn’t go to a lot of fundraising galas!
How do you think the sharing economy will impact fast fashion?
L: The biggest impact it will have is that consumers will recognize there is a huge difference between quantity and quality.
Sharing allows you to try on clothes that are well made with great fabric (that normally costs more). Because it is now affordable to wear something that is better designed you quickly realize what you’ve been missing!
Fast fashion is not only hard on our planet, it is hard on our psyche.
We have more clothes in our closets than we have ever had and people are starting to feel that burden of having so much stuff.
Sharing gives you all the pleasure that we were seeking with fast fashion but without all the guilt. I think sharing is going to replace fast fashion because it makes sense on all levels – to the consumer, the business, and the planet.
What do you do with the dresses once they are out of season?
L: If they are still in great shape we sell them to our members that fell in love with them when they wore them, we donate some and for those that are not in the greatest shape we give the fabric to designers that can repurpose the fabric.
How is the fashion industry changing to become more sustainable and less wasteful?
L: I don’t know that the whole industry is focused on sustainability.
I think many of them are still counting on the fact that many consumers don’t really care as long as they look good. Until the consumers change their habits, the fashion industry is not going to change (although it will appear they are if you only look at their marketing strategies).
Your motto (Rent frock Repeat) is “Less Stuff, More Life”. Tell us what that means to you.
L: It means you don’t need stuff to enjoy life.
Ownership is not an essential part of the experience and as a matter of fact, the more you own, the more you have to store and take care of all of those possessions which means less time spent with family, taking a walk with the dog… Who wants to work hard all day to buy something that you are only going to have to maintain, clean and store to one day spend days trying to sell it or get rid of it. I’d rather #Less Stuff, More Life.
I love how Rent frock Repeat has simplified dress shopping through in-person or Skype consultations. And another fun fact: when you don't own the dress, you can afford to be more playful with prints and colours that suit the season!