Gone are the days when haute couture was the sole prerogative of the deep-pocketed. Now, Indian brides sashay through weddings flaunting Rs 7 lakh Sabyasachi outfits, rented out at a tenth of the cost. Party crazy and fashion-conscious, but without much moolah in bank accounts, millennials pick up high fashion from top designers at Rs 2,000 per outfit.
Founded in 2016 by Sabena Puri, Sanchit Baweja and Rina Dhaka, fashion rental start-up Stage 3 says it has made it its business to make hard, glamorous fashion “accessible to the aspirational”.
The platform, which rents out occasion wear from over 50 marquee designers including brands such as Manish Malhotra, Ritu Kumar, Rhea Kapoor and Sabyasachi, has an attractive business model. The start-up either buys inventory from top designers or acquires them on a revenue-sharing basis and rents them out at 10 per cent of the MRP.
“The designer wear market in India is worth $2 billion a year. Most of these clothes are hardly ever worn again and sit uselessly in closets, especially occasion wear,” pointed out Sanchit Baweja, co-founder and chief business officer. For India’s plethora of designers, fashion stylists, bloggers and even movie production houses, Stage3’s model offers an easy, lucrative avenue to monetise hundreds of crores worth of high fashion just sitting in their studios. The opportunity has seen most of the industry’s top designers begin participating in the platform.
“The first few months, we spent getting top designers on the platform. We went to 30-40 top designers in the country and bought inventory from them outright at a 30-40 per cent markdown. This acted as a pull factor for both customers and up and coming designers. After a few months, many designers started offering outfits on a fully revenue sharing basis,” Baweja said.
The start-up currently has over 80 per cent of its inventory on a revenue-sharing basis, with 20-25 per cent of the stock coming from individual contributors, largely on a revenue-sharing system. “We do not buy a lot of our stock… our model is very asset-light,” Baweja said, pointing out that the company is also attracting interest from Bollywood production houses. “Not only do they also have warehouses filled with outfits, they also rent out stuff from us for non-lead costumes,” he added.
While the hard fashion items are offered for rent beginning from as little as Rs 2,200-2,500 per event (three days) to as much as Rs 60,000 per event depending on the designer, the company also has a sub-brand called Alaya, under which it sells outfit capsules averaging around Rs 1,500-1,700 per outfit.
The company is also launching brick-and-mortar stores, with a new one in Panchsheel, Delhi-NCR, being designed as an experienced outlet. “Being an omnichannel player is a huge advantage, since we get to engage with the customer on every level. The Panchsheel centre will have a styling area, glam station, coffee bar, etc,” Baweja said.