Buying clothes is so 2017.
Last May billionaire investor Warren Buffett predicted the next decade would change the face of retail, and surprise everyone.
“Stores are closing because of the rise of e-commerce and shifts in how people spend their money… shoppers are devoting bigger shares of their wallets to experience: entertainment, restaurants, and technology – and spending less on purchasing clothing and accessories,” Bance told The Memo.
Bance saw the green shoots of this trend back in 2009, in the wake of the financial crisis as purse strings first tightened, today those shoots have grown into a full-blown forest.
After working at luxury French clothing brand Hermès, where she leant out clothes to fashion mags, celebrities and journalists, her business idea was for an online dress store – itself a leap back in 2009’s pre-ASOS world – where shoppers would rent, not buy, their outfits.
“We all know, celebrities borrow dresses for awards ceremonies and special events… I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all borrow dresses for just one event, and wear a different designer for every event in our calendar.”
And so Girl Meets Dress was born.
Today Bance stocks over 4,000 different dresses from over 200 designers, and Girl Meets Dress’ customers include names like ITV’s Holly Willoughby, ex-Apprentice star Michelle Dewberry, UK autism ambassador Anna Kennedy OBE, and many others.
“Many women will typically only have tried a few high-end designer brands in their lifetime, if any. With rental, everything is suddenly affordable,” she says.
At the same time, traditional fashion is becoming something of an environmental disaster, with women buying four times as much clothing as 30 years ago, but with the average woman owning 22 garments that she’s never worn.
“There is nothing ethical about fast fashion,” says Bance.
“Even in the past couple of weeks the topic of fashion sustainability is yet again in the spotlight.”
Last year the microbeads scandal shone a light on how acrylic garments were found to release an average of 1,900 tiny particles of plastic that end up polluting our seas, while fake fur has been in the spotlight for its taking 1,000 years to biodegrade in landfill because of its plastic content.
Bance believes services like Girl Meets Dress tackle our desire for fast fashion, while also protecting the environment by encouraging reusability.
“People are becoming more ethically aware of their environmental footprint and with the help of recent reports from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, hiring is being encouraged by designer Stella McCartney.”
Girl Meets Dress still isn’t a mainstream option for most women, but Bance believes she’s now at the forefront of a growing trend, rather than trying to start a new one.
“We are helping to evolve and retail and consumer habits, which are changing significantly, the growth in rental is testament to that change and also highlights our growing preference for experiences over ownership,” she says.
If Bance succeeds, the future of your wardrobe will be rented.