Wardrobe picks up $1.5 million for a new fashion rental marketplace

Wardrobe, a new peer-to-peer fashion marketplace, has today announced the close of a $1.5 seed round and its public launch out of beta.

The funding was led by angel investor Cyan Banister and Ludlow Ventures, with participation from GroundUp Ventures, Airbnb cofounder Nate Blecharczyk and HQ Trivia founder Rus Yusupov, among others.

Wardrobe was founded by Adarsh Alphons after he had an epiphany about just how many items of clothes in his own house went mostly unused. In fact, the WSJ suggests that most people only wear around 20 percent of their wardrobe on a regular basis. Alphons says that the average woman has 57 items of clothes in her closet that she doesn't even wear once a year.

So began Wardrobe.

Wardrobe is a peer-to-peer rental marketplace for vintage, designer, and luxury brand clothing. However, unlike Rent the Runway or other sharing economy fashion platforms, Wardrobe uses dry cleaners as hubs for the inventory. This not only allows the company to scale more quickly from geography to geography, but also to remain lean without taking on the risk of big warehouses and complicated logistics around shipping.

Here's how it works:

Folks who want to rent their clothes on Wardrobe simply fill out a few answers to questions and receive a shipping label in the mail. Once their clothes are approved, they're sent to a local dry cleaner where they wait to be rented for either 4, 10, or 20 days.

Wardrobe HQ handles everything from storage to shipping to photographing the pieces for the app.

The owner of the clothes makes between 70 and 75 percent of the rental cost after the cost of dry cleaning.

Interestingly, Alphons learned in beta that users want to not only browse the app for clothes, but follow specific users and closets that they particularly like. So the app is now tailored to let users follow one another and watch each other's closets, creating an environment that may attract influencers to the platform.

Wardrobe currently has partnerships with more than 40 Manhattan dry cleaners, serving all of the island below 110th Street. Alphons says that each dry cleaner can hold between 100 and 1,000 items of clothing at a time.

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