Founded by Sacha Newall and Tina Lake and chaired by retail expert Jane Shepardson, My Wardrobe HQ is a ground-breaking new platform with sustainability at its core: renting out current and past season collections from big name designers, as well as selling pre-loved pieces from covetable wardrobes. As the platform finds an exclusive home in Womenswear on 1, each rental, regardless of the price will earn you 500 Liberty Loyalty points.To understand how it all works, we spoke to Newall about disrupting the retail scene, conscious style, and bringing us the ultimate clutter-free wardrobe.
How did MY WARDROBE HQ come to fruition?
Whilst consulting in the car industry on a car sharing project, I discovered that for every car shared, 11 are taken off the road. Wondering whether this same metric could apply to the fashion industry, a chance meeting with Tina Lake, then founder of successful startup marketplace London-Boutiques, only encouraged the idea due to Tina’s extensive career and relationships in the retail industry. In 2018 Tina joined me and in 2019 MY WARDROBE HQ officially launched.
How does it work?
MY WARDROBE HQ is the UK’s first fashion rental and resale marketplace. We don’t buy any stock, instead we have curated a selection of 3000 (and growing) items that have come from individual’s wardrobes and also from exclusive brand partners. These items are both current and past season and are available to rent and buy for a minimum of four days and for as little as £4 per day! We control the management of all the items to ensure items are clean and delivered on time. For this we take a small commission from the vendors and brand partners; the customer only pays the rental or resale price plus a small delivery charge (returns are free).
What are the main benefits?
The benefits to rental and resale are different for each party: the vendor can monetise their unworn items which then provides them with extra income to purchase new designer items. Renters can tap designers which they may have otherwise been unable to afford due to the low rental prices while also exposing them to emerging designers they might not have heard of. For our brand partners, it allows them to not only reach a demographic they wouldn’t have been able to access previously but also ensures that surplus stock is used instead of sitting dormant. Renting and resale offers a way for consumers to be more sustainable in their consumption of fashion.
What occasions are catered for?
Thanks to our extensive edit available, we are able to cater for all occasions from summer to winter holidays (skiwear has been a huge hit this season), work and corporate wear, summer social occasions and the festive season.
Are there any clothes that can’t be rented?
We don’t rent any items that are close fitting such as swimwear or lingerie, however our resale model means items can be listed but the rental and the resale prices would be the same, so customers can purchase items instead.
Renters can tap designers which they may have otherwise been unable to afford due to the low rental prices while also exposing them to emerging designers they might not have heard of.
What brands can people expect to discover?
Currently we stock over 600 designers including Zimmerman, Isabel Marant, Gucci, Stella McCartney, Celine, Alexander McQueen, Mulberry, Chanel, Saint Laurent and so many more! We have brand partnerships with Vilshenko, Coach, Temperley, Zandra Rhodes, Franks London, Vivienne Westwood, Perfect Moment, Lulu Guinness, Needle & Thread, Bora Aksu, with more signing up every week. It’s really fantastic how many designers are embracing this new retail movement.
What are your favourites?
Right now, the Perfect Moment skiwear is a favourite and has been worn by a few team members (when we’ve been able to get our hands on it!). Temperley has some stunning sequin and embroidered dresses that will be perfect for spring and summer events and we’re really excited to receive some new bags from Coach which were recently seen on Kate Moss in its campaign. The beauty of MY WARDROBE HQ is the access to these items and designers at such a small fraction of the RRP. Everyone within the team has had their own ‘wow’ moment with a rental piece and that’s exactly the fun people should be having with fashion.
Are there any celebrities whose clothes we can look forward to coveting?
Poppy Delevingne and Arizona Muse have both been huge supporters of the business and have both listed items from their own wardrobes onto the platform, along with Vogue snapper and journalist Candice Lake, fashion director Martha Ward, beauty blogger Roxie Nafousi and Hello! columnist and blogger Kelly Eastwood. We have a huge array of vendors on the platform though, not everyone needs to be a celebrity.
Where do you stand on emotional attachment to clothes?
Of course, many people with have an emotional attachment to some items, and for these we wouldn’t recommend listing them as ultimately someone else will be wearing them and accidents can happen (thankfully we haven’t had to repair anything so far). It differs from person to person; some people are very happy to list their wedding dress for example whereas others would prefer to hang onto it and keep it stowed in a box in their wardrobe.
Do you think there is a stigma associated with rental? How are you combatting this?
The industry – and consumers as a whole – are more educated now than perhaps 10 - 15 years ago when wearing someone else’s items wasn’t considered the norm. If you look at how Kate Moss and Alexa Chung popularised vintage shopping, rental is heading this way in part due to the news stories around the damage the fashion industry is doing to the planet but also thanks to Arizona Muse who has become a voice for it and also celebrities including Millie Mackintosh, Mary Charteris, Alice Naylor Leyland and Sofia Blunt who were all dressed in rental items by MY WARDROBE HQ at the December 2019 Fashion Awards. Rental is now seen as a badge of honour and we’re really proud to be leading this change.
Why did you choose to launch at Liberty?
Liberty is an iconic British brand, a trailblazer and the perfect partner to disrupt the retail scene. The best way to sum it up is in the words of Liberty founder, Arthur Lasenby Liberty who said, “I was determined not to follow existing fashions but to create new ones.” This is exactly our mission – we want to create a new way to shop: buy better made pieces from Liberty and then rent or resell them on MY WARDROBE HQ.
Where do you see the future of the fashion retail industry?
Designers producing fewer collections and focusing on sustainable materials to slow the impact the manufacturing of items has on the planet. Consumers are becoming more educated and the younger generations are asking more questions. Stella McCartney has long spearheaded a need to use more sustainable textiles but she is only one designer (there are others but none as vocal); we need everyone to come together to start creating better made pieces using better practices. It doesn’t mean stop producing clothes – I’m not sure we’re all ready to walk around naked! – but it’s about having a more considered approach to the consumption of fashion.