Fashion is the second most polluting industry globally due to air, water and solid waste pollution caused by textile consumption. In an attempt to reduce waste, preserve our planet and empower women through monetising their wardrobe, peer-to-peer marketplace, Our Closet introduces a sustainable alternative to luxury fashion through hassle-free designer rentals. Rosie de Malmanche, founder of Our Closet explains how her background in the oil and gas industry influenced her decision to create an accessible marketplace which provides a flexible approach to fashion, whilst still enabling women to have autonomy of their personal style and control over long-term designer investments.
What was your motivation for leaving your career in Investor Relations to launch a designer rental marketplace?
Two reasons, the first being the only industry currently more polluting than the fashion industry is Oil & Gas, I didn't like the idea that I was working on projects that are destroying our planet. Secondly, clothing rental in Australia is very mainstream. I started by opening a B2C rental company there, many of my friends wanted me to rent out pieces on their behalf so I started building a peer-to-peer marketplace where they could list and manage their own pieces for rent too. Wanting a change of scenery and noticing the rental industry was yet to take off in the UK, I moved to London to launch Our Closet.
What are the current issues with the designer market and how does Our Closet address them?
Designer clothing can be restrictive due to price. Our Closet gives women the opportunity to wear a beautiful designer piece for a fraction of the retail price. Alternatively, for women who own a designer piece, it’s a chance to make some of the cost back by renting it out.
Has the rise of social media affected how designer brands are consumed?
Social media has definitely created more awareness around designer labels, from younger celebs wearing expensive pieces, to brands like Fendi, Burberry and Gucci targeting a younger demographic with their pieces. This notion, teamed with celeb culture of multiple outfit changes in a day and never being seen in the same outfit twice, along with the rise of fast fashion where an outfit seen on a celeb can be churned out within 48hrs to mainstream consumers, has encouraged the concept of buying a new outfit every time you go out. The low cost of fast fashion makes this affordable however it has resulted in a buy, wear, throw mentality of the masses.
Also, the Instagram culture of only being photographed in an outfit once has further created a culture where brand conscious people are more open to renting to curate their Instagram image.
More women are seeking practical affordable pieces for everyday use, how has this change in consumer demand impacted the luxury market?
Women are moving towards owning more of a capsule wardrobe with only their staple, high use pieces in it, and then renting the standout pieces that they only want to wear to big occasions where they know they will be photographed. We also find that it's not just occasion wear that women rent, they also like to rent bags and accessories to elevate their look, some women rent corporate wear such as a Chanel suit for an important meeting or job interview, whilst others rent based on lifestyle for example throughout their pregnancy, when they would rather rent than buy if they're potentially only going to fit into the piece for a very short period of time.
There is also a growing trend where women are now asking key questions before purchasing luxury pieces for example, will they wear the item again? Will someone else want to wear it? And, for this price, could I rent a better piece by a more prestigious designer?
Why is the Dahlia backpack from our Classic Collection your favourite everyday bag?
As it is part of a capsule collection, it is minimal and very easy to style with a range of outfits. I also love the mixture of textures and the navy option is a great alternative to the black, but still elegant and subtle. It is also practical and ideal for holding a laptop, notebook and wallet, meaning commuting around London is easier being hands free.
What does sustainability mean in the world of high fashion?
Sustainability in high fashion means sourcing more sustainable fabrics, treating workers fairly, not overproducing stock that won’t be sold, and from a consumer point of view, buying less and sharing more.
The concept of a designer rental marketplace enables women to do more with less, what was your inspiration behind this?
I essentially wanted to empower women by giving them a safe and secure way to monetise their wardrobe. I also wish to build a community of likeminded individuals who choose to live more sustainably without compromising on style or quality.