Whether it’s a dress you once wore as a bridesmaid or a suit you never got the chance to wear because you work from home, most have us have articles of clothing in our wardrobes that never see the light of day.
That’s what inspired New York-based entrepreneur Adarsh Alphons to launch a new platform called Wardrobe that makes use out of all those fine, unused clothes. The platform first began with women’s clothes, allowing women to rent out their unworn clothing, with neighborhood dry cleaners serving as distribution hubs.
“We realized what we could do is build a platform that’s a bit like an Airbnb of fashion,” says Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk, who is an investor in the company.
When Alphons started reading about the overproduction of clothing, he was shocked. On top of the giant carbon footprint that goes with making one item of clothing, research shows people throw away clothing worth around $400 billion each year. And that does not count the many more clothing items that just hang in closets without being touched.
“The average woman has 57 items in a closet that she doesn’t even wear once a year,” Alphons says.
The startup launched last year to serve consumers in New York City. Now it’s launching nation-wide, inviting anyone with extra high-quality clothing to list it on the platform; then they mail it to one of the dry cleaners that the company has partnered with. The dry cleaners store it on their premises, shipping out an item of clothing each time someone rents it and then cleaning it each time it returns.
According to Alphons, early lenders to the platform tend to have very large wardrobes, consigning an average of more than $8,000 worth of extra clothing.
“Several of them have already made thousands of dollars off of those things,” he says. “And they can retain ownership of it, which means they can either sell it later on a different platform—or maybe two years from now we’ll have our own sales platform as well.”