I've Been Renting Designer Clothes on an App, and I've Never Felt Better About My Outfits
Trust me, I know why you don't want to wear the same old jumpsuit you wore 10 years ago for a wedding — then again five years ago for a dinner party — to that shower you have next month. It's a feeling I'm all too familiar with, especially now that events are slowly trickling onto my calendar again and I'm actually feeling excited to dress up in something fresh and new. Don't get me wrong, there's no issue with repeating an outfit, but maybe I just want to be a different version of myself! A version that doesn't reach for the same sour-cream-stained sweats every Tuesday night for tacos. I'm ready to channel a different energy now. But, like many of us, I've also spent a lot of the pandemic reflecting on the way I shop, and I know that my values lie in reducing my carbon footprint and researching every brand's production process.
"[R]enting is one of the best ways to connect like-minded consumers who want to evolve their personal style while still dressing in alignment with their values."
Now, I've always been a lover of vintage, not only because I enjoy reinterpreting trends from different decades, but because of the way a garment can speak for its previous wearers. As someone who wrote her college thesis about how clothes tell our stories based on the memories we make in them and the psychological attachment we form to their presence in our closet, you bet I'm an avid thrifter. So when I discovered Tulerie, an app that aims to minimize waste in the fashion cycle by increasing the life spans of designer pieces, I was intrigued. Here, I could borrow really stylish clothes from other people — maybe something they've only worn once or twice — then send them right back. It's a great option for holidays and events when you'll likely be taking a lot of pictures that become moments on your timeline or squares on your Instagram feed. (Again, nothing wrong with repeating an outfit, but just in case you like to switch it up!)
Founder and CEO of Tulerie Violet Gross launched the company in late 2018, but paused work during the height of the pandemic since many people were understandably wary of sending packages and buying and selling used clothes. But since vaccines were introduced, the average spend per rental is up 23 percent. Gross told POPSUGAR that September 2021 was the app's best month on record, with an increase of over 200 percent in total rental reservations. Tulerie allows customers to decide how many days they'd like to rent a product for — four, 10 (the most popular choice now that people are beginning to travel), or 20 — which affects the price. (You may also be charged anywhere from $5 to $30 for a cleaning fee.) Ultimately, users end up earning a greater percentage of the original retail price back on their clothes and accessories than they do selling them at a consignment shop or online resale site. They also have the benefit of wearing their items in between rentals, and they never have to part with them — unless they want to. If loaners are hoping to sell a piece they no longer have use for, they can also list them for purchase.
I had two outdoor weddings scheduled this fall, so I started by searching for a Bottega Veneta bag (what a dream!) to wear with a black-tie dress, and ended up renting a rose-gold basket-weave clutch for less than $200, while the retail value is over $2,000. Weeks later, I wore a $925 Prada satin bustier and returned it to the loaner immediately following the weekend for less than $100. Of course, I started experimenting by listing clothing from my own closet, too, and quickly earned some cash by sending my Gucci belt and Chanel slingbacks off to new wearers, all to add to their history and help people form new memories in my old treasures. Call me cheesy, but I just think that idea is romantic.
It's worth mentioning that the app has an extremely well-curated high-fashion inventory, with the most popular brands being Dolce & Gabbana, Zimmermann, Johanna Ortiz, Cult Gaia, Bottega Veneta, Loewe, Fendi, Stella McCartney, and Chanel, and there are even new-season items from recently dropped collections readily available. That being said, I do wish there were a wider range of sizes and more diverse labels to select from, as representation and inclusivity is something I'm constantly thinking about and looking for in a shopping destination.
I talked to two industry leaders who have been longtime renters and loaners, and stylist Cassandra Dittmer agreed. "I truly hope that [Tulerie is] able to scale and continue to grow its selection," she said, going on to note the positive side of the initiative. "Fashion-minded consumers are going to only ask for more solutions on how to dress fashionably, ethically, and with their values in mind. With increased transparency and climate awareness throughout the industry, renting is one of the best ways to connect like-minded consumers who want to evolve their personal style while still dressing in alignment with their values."
Stylist Anchyi Wei also enjoys being able to wear luxury without having to personally invest all-in on something she's not ready for. Ahead, both women offer their own takes on the app and explain why they feel Tulerie is the future of fashion, even though it's founded on the idea that we can all bring energy and light to clothing from the past.
"It's wonderful to know that someone else can make use of my pieces and give them the light they deserve."
Digital creator, stylist, and photographer Anchyi Wei has loaned out 15 items since she joined Tulerie and has made around $2,000 from rentals and sales. She rented this Carolina Herrera tiered polka-dot dress for a picnic with friends and ended up distinguishing the dress code as black and white all because of it. "I'm a big believer in circular economy and believe this is the way of the future. As a loaner, it's wonderful to know that someone else can make use of my pieces and give them the light they deserve," she said, counting the first-ever rental of her yellow Viva Aviva top as particularly memorable. "I was so excited to share my closet, and hoped the renter looked amazing in it!" Wei prefers Tulerie to other apps because of the quality of inventory and the helpful members in the community, confirming that she's earned much higher commission in comparison to other sites. But most importantly, there's the consideration for the environment. "From a sustainability standpoint, the Earth is not made of unlimited resources, and there is no sense in overproducing and waste generation when we can collectively share a few high-quality goods."
"[Tulerie] helps to rewire our brains to realize that we don't need something 'new' for every event."
Sustainable stylist and creative director Cassandra Dittmer has used Tulerie for vacations and a wedding, most notably borrowing a brand-new Bottega Veneta Mini Jodie bag for a trip to Monaco. This would've been nearly impossible on other rental apps, which usually do not offer new-season products. "I once had someone tell me that I was helping redefine luxury by championing rentals and prioritizing sustainability without compromising a fashion-forward aesthetic, and that thought process really resonated with me," she told POPSUGAR when reminiscing about the compliments she's received on her rented items. "I feel good about using Tulerie because it promotes circularity in the fashion industry and helps to rewire our brains to realize that we don't need something 'new' for every event. Ultimately, Tulerie helps me align my values to how I dress myself, and that makes me feel incredible."
The Bottega Veneta basket-weave clutch I borrowed can be rented for four days for $178, for 10 days for $283, for 20 days for $388, or purchased from the seller for $1,480, with the original retail price marked at $2,100.
The pink and metallic Prada strapless bustier I wore for the wedding can be rented for four days for $84, for 10 days for $130, for 20 days for $176, or purchased from the seller for $657, with the original retail priced marked at $925.