Chic by Choice, a rental service that offers high-end dresses, reports that they now serve 230K customers from 15 countries across western Europe. The service, which was launched back in June 2014 in the United Kingdom by Portuguese entrepreneurs Filipa Neto and Lara Vidreiro has witnessed explosive growth since then, growing at a rate of 30% monthly.
The website for Chic by Choice lists the retail prices of the dresses offered, which indicates that many of the dresses would set the customer back hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds if they were to purchase it. Some may have the means and desire to pick up the dress, but for those looking to rent out the dress for a party, this represents a much cheaper option. In order to pick up the dresses, the customer indicates their preferred shipment period (they require the dress for 4 or 8 days) and then has the dress shipped to a particular dress. Once finished, the customer simply ships it back from the same address. It is interesting to note that the company offers full refunds in the event that the customer does not bother to wear the dress that they order. They also offer a free second size of each dress that they rent out in an effort to ensure that their customers are satisfied. The company does not currently rent out accessories, but a representative from Chic by Choice tells me that they intend to do so in the near future. The company reports that their typical customer falls within the 20-45 age range and usually spends 100 pounds to rent out a particular dress.
Even though the company is currently witnessing successful growth, a representative from the company tells me that they did not simply get lucky at their first try in building a business. Their previous attempt in this market, 21, launched 3 years and claimed early success at a startup competition. However, it did not exactly develop as hoped and they shifted to the current direction.
Despite having only launched, they have already completed their first acquisition, picking up more than 200,000 customers went they took control of competitor Wish, Want, Wear. Chic by Choice currently claims backing from Faber Ventures, The Edge Group, and Portugal Ventures, but says that they are in the process of raising a round valued at 3 million pounds. When that goes forward, the company intends to roll out a revenue-sharing model and create a rental marketplace for high-end dresses. Details about that deal are sparse at the moment, but I expect that we will be hearing from this startup again in the near future.