“The future of fashion retail”: Boutique designer Spell partners with GlamCorner to offer a capsule collection to rent

One of the items in Spell's rental collection. Source: supplied.

Byron Bay designer Spell is offering a capsule collection for rent, through a partnership with sustainable fashion startup GlamCorner.

Through the Sister-to-Sister platform, powered by GlamCorner, customers will be able to choose from a collection of 48 rental items, including some of Spell’s most popular pieces from previous lines.

Pieces will be delivered to the customer’s door, worn for showing off at an event or just for enjoying around the house, and then are returned by post four to eight days later.

Speaking to SmartCompany, GlamCorner co-founder Audrey Khaing-Jones say the startup was in discussions with the boutique designer for more than a year. It’s a brand she “truly loved” she says, and was keen to find a way to collaborate.

When she and her team were creating the fashion rental platform for retailers, Spell co-founder Elizabeth Abegg was immediately on board, Khaing-Jones recalls.

Then, it was just a case of making it work.

“They embrace sustainability as part of the brand,” Khaing-Jones notes.

“It was really a no-brainer.”

Abegg tells SmartCompany her decision to explore rental was “experimental and solutions driven”.

Throughout the pandemic, she found herself having to reduce the sizes of some collections, and so the business has seen more lines selling out.

A rental platform not only allowed more customers access to the items they coveted, it also served to help them reduce their own environmental impact.

Now, as the size of collections are rebalanced to line up with demand, Abegg sees this as a fresh challenge for her team of designers.

“We are still really excited at the prospect of digging up or reproducing archival pieces for rental as well as creating special limited edition pieces that would work well in the occasion wear space,” she explains.

Spell co-founders Elizabeth Abegg and Isabella Pennefather. Source: supplied.

Fashion, COVID-style

For GlamCorner, too, this partnership represents something of a milestone. Working with an industry leader she has the utmost respect for amounts to a “pinch-me moment”, Khaing-Jones says.

Founded back in 2012, the startup has now seen about 500 tonnes of clothing shared through its platform, and just last year, GlamCorner raised $12 million in Series B funding.

While the COVID-19 pandemic saw fewer customer borrowing items for big nights out, the business saw a 96% uptick in subscribers for its monthly boxes of ‘athleisure’ and casual-wear, with particular interest in snuggly winter knits.

There was also a 76% increase in people looking tops and jackets. People may have been working from home, but they’re still professionals and need to look the part, Khaing-Jones muses.

“You still have to look fancy on top,” she says.

GlamCorner co-founders Audrey Khaing-Jones and Dean Jones. Source: supplied.

Sales of pre-loved and clearance items also more than doubled during the pandemic, and sign-ups to the maternity boxes increased by 133%.

All in all, while Khaing-Jones doesn’t share any specific revenue figures, she does reveal growth has “definitely surpassed our expectation”.

She puts this partly down to people trying to reduce their spend on things like clothing, but also craving the feeling of having something ‘new’, and the normality that can come with it.

“Getting that box … it’s a joy,” she says.

A culture shift

This partnership shows we’re on our way to the circular economy becoming the norm in the fashion industry.

There’s more conversation and more awareness than ever around the environmental damage caused by the sector, Khaing-Jones notes. Consumers are starting to be more conscious of the power of their spending decision.

One of the dresses available in Spell’s rental collection. Source: supplied.

The industry has a long way to go, still. But customer now understand the sharing economy in the context of clothing.

“It’s not a scary notion any more,” she explains.

“I truly believe that the rental and second-hand industry is the future of fashion retail.”

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