Friday 18 March 2016

fashion and the sharing economy : part one

It doesn't take much to encourage me to wear beautiful clothes - and a ticket to opening night of Swan Lake at the Opera House was all the excuse I needed to start dreaming of designer dresses.

The dancers will be bringing their A-game - why shouldn't I?

Of course, I can't always afford to buy the exact pieces I covet. And more importantly, I don't want to over-buy fashion and end up with a wardrobe full of beauties I've only worn once. A 2015 survey found that women wore clothing items an average of 7 times before throwing them away, and that after 3 wears most items are no longer considered 'new'.

Dresses are the worst offenders, with most bought for a 'one-off' event. I can totally understand why this might happen - I know that sometimes after I've achieved the 'wow' factor on the first wear of a new dress it somehow loses it's luster. So if we can extend the life of dresses and still keep the excitement, it can only be a good thing, right?

Enter the sharing economy and designer dress rental - the best win-win for the planet, my pocketbook and my love of beautiful clothing.

Sharing the love
While sharing amongst friends is fabulous, there is something about wearing a dress that none of your friends have seen. And for fashion lovers like myself, the opportunity to don a stunning piece of wearable art that I typically could not afford is oh-so-tempting.

Fashion sharing websites have been around for awhile, and I've rented dresses before with great success. So it was pure serendipity that brought GlamCorner to my attention just as I was starting to consider where to rent a dress for Swan Lake.

GlamCorner has over 1,000 dresses from more than 60 designer labels available for rental within Australia.

1,000 dresses!!!

There are beauties from Diane Von Furstenberg, Alex Perry, Manning Cartel, Carla Zampatti, Badgley Mischka and more.

The owners of GlamCorner tell me that each dress is rented an average of 10 times - that means these gorgeous gowns that may have only been worn once or twice by a solo owner are actually getting used, seeing the light of day, being enjoyed, and not going straight from one wear to a charity bin or the landfill.

And when 10 different people are enjoying the same item, the environmental footprint of creating the garment gets smaller and smaller.

How does it work?
I hear what you're thinking - how do you know if it will fit? What will it look like it on my body?

GlamCorner provides very specific style and fit comments about each dress. For example, "This dress runs true to size, however there is not a lot of give in the bust. We recommend it for women with medium-to-smaller cup sizes." Thank you for the specificity! There are also suggestions about the best undergarments to wear with each dress, and style tips regarding shoe colour and accessories.

The website offers a range of sizes from 6 to 20 - it's wonderful to see a fashion company that understands that fashion-loving bodies come in a range of shapes and sizes.

Nervous about 'shopping' online? Don't be.
Customers also have a few options to help us feel confident about selecting a dress online.
  • Try before you rent - obligation-free option to try 2 dresses for $30
  • Order a back up dress - select a second dress for the same date for $15
  • Fit guarantee - if the dress you selected doesn't fit, exchange for another size or request a refund

I would have loved to 'try before I rented', but I took too long deciding what I wanted to wear and my preferred dresses are rented out between now and the ballet (hopefully at some other fabulous events!). My advice if you prefer to try something on would be to plan ahead to make sure you allow enough time. You can book dresses up to 6 months in advance.

Instead I've ordered a back up dress. This means that two dresses will be delivered to me to try and wear, and I'm optimistic that one of them will work.

Here are the two I've chosen . . .

Manning Cartel (Ethical Clothing Australia certified)

Yeojin Bae

Lace is clearly a trend at the moment, and I found myself drawn to both of these stunners in dark blue and navy hues.

I have shoes that will go with either dress, and the length on both is great for the ballet (sitting in a short dress is never that comfortable).  I find the geometric cut and lace-design on the Manning Cartel, and the interesting boho-luxe flare of the Yeojin Bae, are both really interesting takes on the lace trend. Fingers crossed one fits! (Because if both fit, I don't know how I'll choose. . .)

I'll let you know which I select and send pics from the Opera House after the ballet in a couple of weeks and fill you in on the rest of the experience.

Have you had experience renting dresses? Good, bad, ugly? I'd love to hear about it.

In the interest of transparency : GlamCorner have kindly offered to rent a dress to me in return for writing a blog post about the experience. As I hope you all know by now, I only write about businesses I truly believe are helping making fashion more sustainable, and I stand behind my beliefs in this sharing economy business model.

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