It’s last minute. You want to wear something fancy to a party. But neither do you have enough money to buy a new dress nor the time to pick and choose from among the potentially endless varieties in the market. What do you now? Worry not. Now you can quickly rent a dress.
Anita Dahal Paudyal’s ‘A&S, Rent the Runway’, which started just three months ago, is the place to be to rent beautiful designer wares. The start has been modest, with just around 35 wares currently available for rent. Yet Paudyal sees huge potential in it.
Paudyal opened the store in Naxal with the idea of acting as a middleman between the owners and borrowers of dresses and taking a cut from the difference. Paudyal says she fell in love with the idea when she first heard of it back in April. “People buy dresses and wear it to three or four functions, after which they just sit in their cupboard,” she says. Especially with the popularity of social media, adds Paudyal, the value of a particular dress decreases drastically after it is worn once and its photos posted online. “Wearing it to another function and then taking and posting a photo in that same dress—it’s considered uncool.” But if they give out this dress for rent, they earn some money from it, which they can in turn use to rent another dress, she adds.
Another attractive point for Paudyal was the eco-friendly nature of the business. Fashion is one of the major polluting industries in the world. With recycling and reusing becoming popular, Paudyal questions why designer wears cannot be sustainable used as well. “If the industry creates so much pollution, we can also do our bit to reduce some of it.” Dress-renting is thus like killing two birds with the same stone.
If someone is interested in renting out their clothes, they can contact the store through its Facebook page or call 9862251241. Paudyal herself examines the dress. “It has to look new and there should be no damage,” she informs. Once the dress is approved, a contract is signed between the store and dress-owner. Anyone can then rent that dress for 20 percent of its cost price. After a dress is kept by the store for rent, it is usually sent for dry-cleaning, which costs around Rs 300. The rest of the rent price is divided between the owner of the dress (40 percent) and the store (60 percent).
The person borrowing the dress can keep it for up to three days. In the contract, it is made clear that if there is any damage to the dress, 70 percent repair cost will be borne by the person who took the dress, 15 percent by the store, and 15 percent by the dress owner. And if the owner of the dress needs the dress for themselves sometimes, they are free to take it back for personal use.
The store currently has 10 lehengas, eight gowns and 15 sarees that seven people have given for rent. For now the focus is women’s clothing but Paudyal says that soon she wishes to introduce rentals for men’s designer wears too.
Her target customers are aged 20-30. Usually, the youth have loved her concept and the energy with which they enter her store, she says, is contagious and makes her happy. However, there are also people around 40 years who have taken rental sarees from the store. Till now, nine people have taken dresses on rent, for anywhere between Rs 2,000-Rs 10,000. She hopes the sales to pick up in December, the peak of the Nepali wedding season.
There are many challenges for the new store. First, many have questioned why someone would want to wear a second-hand dress for an important function. Second, convincing people to give out their expensive dresses for rent has been difficult. Third, people are not always careful about the expensive dresses they are wearing. But Paudyal is optimistic. “It’s a new concept. Give it some time.”