Pioneering designer wear rentals in India: Secret Wardrobe | SupportBiz

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Pioneering designer wear rentals in India: Secret Wardrobe

Mumbai-based Secret Wardrobe is India's first online rental service for designer wear. Secret Wardrobe, founded by Jessica Gupta in 2011, offers an exclusive range of bridal wear for hire, for both men and women in Mumbai. Customers are also welcome to try out the outfits at Secret Wardrobe’s Santa Cruz boutique before renting them.

SupportBiz caught up with Jessica on her rental store, entrepreneurship, the challenges that she faces, and more.

Tell us about your background…

I am a graduate in Film & Video Communication from the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, and have worked on various documentaries, corporate films and TV shows.

How did Secret Wardrobe come about?

This venture was conceptualized while I was making a documentary film on Indian handlooms, which involved interaction with several designers. I found that many people find it unaffordable to invest in high-fashion items on a regular basis. In particular, items like bridal wear are extremely expensive and are of no use once the wedding is over. Also, no woman likes to repeat an outfit more than once. I thought that a rental service could offer a solution to all these problems.

When was Secret Wardrobe born?

In June 2011.

Dresses by which designers are included in your present collection?

We presently have outfits from Wendell Rodricks, Masaba Gupta, Satyapual, Sabyasachi, Malini Ramini, Rahul Mishra, Meheka Mirpuri, Ashley Rebello and others. We also offer branded designer wear from renowned brands like Benzer.

Who are your target customers?

A majority of our clientele consists of prospective brides and bridegrooms (in the age group of 20-30), along with their family members. They usually come from the middle and upper middle class income groups. Our clients also include models getting their portfolios clicked, film costume stylists and people attending high-end parties.

Do you have plans of expanding to other cities as well?

We plan to expand to other metros like Delhi, Ahmedabad and Bangalore in the next phase.

What is your business model?

Initially, we contacted various designers and sourced outfits from them at discounted prices. Today, we have an in-house design team, and we also offer a unique way for people to make use of their designer wear to earn money through Secret Wardrobe through a Revenue Share arrangement. Many people have shared their outfits with us through this arrangement and have benefited from doing so. It is also a great way for us to grow our collection without having to invest in expensive pieces all the time.

What are the major challenges you face?

One of our biggest challenges is sizing. We have also started getting calls from people in different cities across India, but we have not started operations outside Mumbai and are unable to cater to them.

How do you get most of your clients?

We get many clients through services like Justdial, listings in wedding directories, participating in exhibitions and through word of mouth.

How do you deal with competition?

There are other services in Mumbai which offer garments on rent, but none of them offer high-end designer outfits and bridal wear the way we do.

What have been your proudest moments as an entrepreneur?

The extensive coverage Secret Wardrobe has received in the media has been a great confidence booster. I think my proudest moments always come when brides tell us how elated they are and how we helped make their special day even more special!

What do you think about the fashion industry in India at the moment? What is its scope?

The sky is the limit for the Indian fashion industry today. The organized market for designer apparel is pegged at about INR350 crore. Many fashion designers and management experts foresee an average growth of about 10 percent to 12 percent for the Indian fashion industry in the coming years.

With fashion consciousness rapidly increasing across India, especially amongst the youth, the rental sector also has a huge potential. The number of people who can afford to purchase high-end designer wear on a regular basis is far less than the number of people who aspire to be seen wearing these labels. Also, many people are opening up to the idea of renting bridal wear, which is extremely expensive and can be used only once in a lifetime.

Garment rental as such is a new business in India, and Secret Wardrobe is positioned as India’s first online rental service for Designer wear. However, the response so far has been extremely encouraging, and the success of the first year indicates tremendous potential. We hope to grow our business and expand to various cities across India within the next few years. We are in the process of raising funds for the same.

Corporate Website: Secret Wardrobe