Today, fashion is pivoting to become more service-oriented and experiential. Many platforms are being established that cater to this need that is often fed by social media and the singularity of events. Armarium is a platform founded by former Salvatore Ferragamo Senior Director of Public Relations Trisha Gregory that allows women to rent high-end designer dresses for short periods of time. The platform is a bit different from Rent The Runway in that it aims to target the luxury designer matrix rather than a contemporary one like RTR. On Armarium, you can find designers like Miu Miu, Bottega Venetta, Erdem, and Rodarte, whereas on RTR the brand mix is a bit more contemporary. You could rent a designer gown for $400 at minimum, with several pieces verging into the thousands as well. They primarily relied on a showroom model with some pop-up retail activations.
Armarium couldn’t sustain itself financially, and as a primarily events-driven business, it shut down during the global outbreak of coronavirus. However, it had a successful four-year run where they dressed women for red carpet events like the Grammys, Oscars, and other prestigious award ceremonies. Armarium primarily targeted sophisticated, urban, professional women who weren’t exactly celebrities, but wanted access to the editorial pieces they saw on the runway (since custom and pieces directly from the runway aren’t always available or affordable for the non-celebrity tier). What I find really fascinating about this business model is that it recasts fashion as something that can be perceived as a single-use product that can be borrowed or loaned. If you think about it, we’re always “renting” clothes that we own from our closet since we only wear things every once in a while. Fashion is often characterized by temporality and seasonality. I believe this understanding is key to unlocking ideas for many new business models. I am endlessly inspired by businesses that attempt to recast and reframe consumption through the rental lens. As a strategist and designer, I would love to contribute ideas to this emerging realm as well.