The building is plush. The room, lit by a large window, is surrounded by clothes rails loaded with dresses inviting one to dream. On this Monday noon in January, the door to the Une Robe Un Soir showroom opens and closes. A client comes out. A neighbor influencer slips into the room looking for a red dress for a night out. The phone rings regularly… To believe the activity that emerges, the rental attracts. Because as its name suggests, Une Robe Un Soir offers to rent dresses from big names for a short time. And enjoy a dress for four days normally sold for several hundred or even several thousand euros, and that for an average price of 130 euros. “We have 1,500 clients, 20% of which are returning clients because we meet a need,” indicate Naïma Cardi and Deborah Bertrand, the two leaders of the start-up.
The Un Robe Un Soir showroom © Challenges
This need, Une Robe Un Soir is not the only one to be concerned about. And the start-up’s observation – consumers are more and more inclined to favor use over possession – is widely shared. Les Cachotières, Panoply, Couture Market… Rental in high-end or luxury fashion has given rise to many vocations in recent years. The platforms have flourished. Some offer the rental of individual pieces to shine during an event. Others offer subscriptions to regularly change your wardrobe. Some act as intermediaries between private owners and tenants. Others manage their own clothing stock. But all have a reference to the mouth: Rent the Runway.
Rent the Runway: la success story american
Rent the Runway is the success story American which suggests that anything is possible. Launched in 2009 by two former Harvard alumni, the New York-based start-up has grown to reach over 9 million users, $ 100 million in revenue and be valued at nearly 800 million dollars. euros, recalls CNBC … Something to dream of many French entrepreneurs even if discretion is required when addressing the issue of figures. “We have multiplied our turnover by three in one year”, simply indicate the two managers of Une Robe Un Soir without giving a figure. They also mention “a positive operating result” but “significant investments”. “We are approaching 15,000 rentals since the opening and we expect profitability in 2020”, explains Ingrid Brochard, the founder of Panoply.
Panoply, which started out with a subscription offer now also offers unit rentals. “Half of our activity corresponds to subscription and the other to unit rental”, explains Ingrid Brochard. Une Robe Un Soir went the other way. Originally created for unit rental, the start-up bought L’Habibli, which had positioned itself in the subscription niche and will be offering this new offer from mid-March. The two start-ups are thus making the bet to move forward on two feet – the unit and the subscription – and thus reach customers with different profiles. “These are two complementary models”, assures Naïma Cardi.
Because the challenge is there: to find a viable model. “The rental trend is still being sought,” said Julie El Ghouzzi, director of the Center for Luxury and Creation. “Rent the Runway works. But there are also signs that it is not that easy.” The shutdown of InstantLuxe at the end of 2018 could well be one of them. The site which had developed in the sale of second-hand luxury products had been bought by Galeries Lafayette in 2016 and had diversified into rental, although this remained marginal. “Rental is a complex market with logistics that are a real challenge,” notes Naïma Cardi from Une Robe Un Soir, while Ingrid Brochard considers that this market is based on “one third on fashion, one third on logistics and a third on technology: you have to invest a lot to achieve profitability. “