Wearing designer clothes that don’t empty out your bank account is perhaps the dream of many a youngster, especially during festival times or the wedding season. Stage3, a Delhi-based startup, makes that possible with its line of designer wear that it rents out for three to six days. Not just that, it also offers customers style recommendations based on their body measurements, personal style and the occasion for which the garment is required. Recently, Stage3 started offering designer apparel on rent for plus-sized women, making available clothes for above size 18, a segment that is seeing increasing demand.
“We are creating an ecosystem of designers, stylists, logistics partners and customer support professionals that are leveraging technology to deliver personalised fashion experiences that can be rented. Through Stage3, the modern Indian woman can own for an evening, a look that is best suited to her so that she feels hip, glamorous, and confident,” says Sabena Puri, co-founder and CEO, Stage3. Puri, along with fashion designer Rina Dhaka and former CEO of Buttons and Threads, Sanchit Baweja, founded the online fashion technology start-up in 2015.
The fashion technology portal has two business models—rentals and sales. For rentals, it sources the latest inventory directly from designers. For sales, it has a peer-to-peer marketplace model, where it curates designer-wear from people’s closets and takes a commission on the sale. It also curates and sells excess inventory sourced directly from the designers’ factories.
Stage3 purchases inventories at a 40-50% discount on MRP. It then rents these at one-tenth the cost. Before dispatching a product, it dry-cleans and puts it through a rigorous inspection process and alters it to the guest’s size. “Price points for rentals start at `500 and go up to `10,000. For outright purchases, the price is `2,500 onwards,” says Puri. The current value of merchandise rented is about `1.5 crore per month.
Puri says that the clothing rental market in India is worth $4-5 billion. The start-up recently ventured into the rental space for men by launching a men’s collection at the portal called ‘Waris’. It delivers to Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune, Jaipur, Lucknow, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Ludhiana, Indore, Surat, Dehradun and Chennai. It plans to make its services available in six to eight more cities.
Stage3 has been using technology to understand its customers’ needs better. “Technology is crucial to our line of business, both in reference to our inventory and customers. Our buying decisions are made on the basis of precise data that includes which designers, colours and silhouettes are preferred by our customers,” says Puri. “Then we have customer-data that showcases their preferred styles and silhouettes. These data points make it easier for us to personalise the shopping experience for them.”
Stage3 raised seed funding in December 2015. Nisha Kumar, ex-CFO of Rent the Runway and AOL/Time Warner Inc, Puneet Dalmia, MD of Dalmia Cement and Balaji Prabhakar, professor of computer science at Stanford University and chief scientist at Urban Engines were among the key investors.
The online apparel rental segment has seen the entry of several players in the last two years. Among them are FlyRobe, LibeRent, Envoged, Zapyle, Blinge, Rent It Bae even as Klozee closed down in 2016. Earlier, Spoyl, an online marketplace for pre-owned apparel, had acquired rival Revamp My Closet.