It annoys me to no end when I read American fashion magazines and either can’t find the items they feature, or I can’t enter their contests because they’re open to American residents only. So imagine my frustration when I discovered that two of my favourite recent startup finds, Birchbox and Rent the Runway, don’t deliver to Canada. Luckily I’ve found two perfect replacements – Loose Button’s Luxe Box is a box of luxury beauty samples delivered monthly, similar to Birchbox. And I can attest that it’s beautiful – I’m a subscriber and I recently gave three-month subscriptions to two girlfriends for their birthdays and they were thrilled.
Rent the Runway alternative Rent frock Repeat just launched in Canada, and I’m happy to say that I’m a new and devoted customer. I was invited to their launch party to meet the entrepreneurs behind the company and to check out their new designer dress-rental service, and it was love at first (dress) sight. This service is literally made for me – at last count I had over 60 dresses in my closet (I know. It’s excessive), many of which have been worn only a couple times. Most are from budget-friendly stores like H+M and Forever 21, but the sheer volume is hard to store in a 700-square-foot condo. The breaking point came when my exasperated boyfriend instituted a one-in one-out rule for dresses, so I knew I had to find an alternative to buying a new one every time I got invited to an event.
I know what you’re thinking – why can’t you just wear dresses you already own to events? And sure, I could. But it’s not as fun as getting a new one. And because I go to a lot of social media-friendly events, photos of me in various dresses are already plastered all over the Interwebs (first world problem, I know). So Rent frock Repeat was made for me, and I’m now a devoted customer.
The process is simple – find a dress you love by searching by designer, colour, style, etc. Pick two sizes (the second one is free), pick a rental period (four days or eight days), and for a fraction of the retail price the dress will be delivered to your door on the specified date.
I know what you’re thinking. But how will I know if it fits? That’s why they send two sizes, and they also have a team of stylists available for live chats to help you understand the fit and potential accessories. But what if I spill something on it? You pay a $5 insurance fee to cover any mishaps. But what if it’s not in perfect condition? Dresses are dry-cleaned after every rental, and inspected by the RfR team before they’re sent out again. But how do I send it back? Included with your delivery is a postage-paid envelope – just pop the dress into the envelope and drop it in a Canada Post mailbox. Easy peasy.
I rented a $450 Badgley Mischka dress for my birthday dinner and a coworker’s wedding last weekend, and was thrilled with the experience. The dress arrived on time, and included in the box was a kit with a deodorant-removal sponge and fashion tape. I wore the dress Friday and Saturday night, and put it in the mail Sunday as per the instruction card. All for $70 (the dress rental would have been $120 including tax, insurance and shipping but I had a discount code from the launch party).
Their customer service is also stellar just in case you do encounter a problem. I had an issue with my discount code on a Saturday afternoon and co-founder Kristy helped me on the live chat feature and resolved my issue within an hour. I interviewed the founders for a Sprouter blog post yesterday and they said they’ve been calling every single early customer to get feedback on how they can improve – pretty impressive.
I have my eye on this Badgley Mischka dress for my next rental, I just need somewhere to wear it – so if anyone has a fancy event to invite me to, now’s the time. Hopefully if you’re in need of a dress for a summer wedding or event you try out Rent frock Repeat – and hey, you can always rent one from my closet. I’ve got about 59 to spare.
Technology journalist, Financial Post columnist, former Managing Editor at BetaKit.com, and one of Marketing Magazine's 30 Under 30.