According to FMI, global online clothing rental sales are expected to grow 11 per cent CAGR between 2021 and 2031.
“Post-Covid, the opportunity for the circular economy is huge. It has fast-tracked sustainability and circularity – especially within fashion. I think we are definitely in the right place at the right time,” Kore told Inside Retail.
Focus on customer experience
Launched by Kore and fellow co-founder and co-CEO Costa Koulis in 2016, Designerex enables consumers and independent boutiques to list garments for rent, rather than buying and renting its own inventory.
In this way, it’s more like Airbnb than rental sites like GlamCorner and Rent The Runway. The benefit is that Designerex is highly scalable, but it also means that users are responsible for shipping and cleaning items, which can be a hassle.
Improving the customer experience is a key focus for Kore and Koulis, with the goal of making it as easy to borrow a dress online as it is to buy one.
They recently teamed up with Australia Post to create a solution to generate shipping and return labels, which users can either download and print at home, or present at the post office via a barcode. Previously, users had to write out addresses by hand, which could lead to errors.
“It’s also much easier and quicker for the customer to just use a barcode, and they’re used to having this barcode label experience with other retailers,” Kore explained.
Designerex is also trialling a three-hour delivery offering with last-mile delivery service Drive Yello.
“Events are very time-sensitive, so we do anything to help that cause, and three-hour delivery or last-minute delivery is one of those things,” she said.
“If there’s a disaster, it’s Friday, and you get an invite somewhere, you can jump on the platform. We’ve got 30,000 listings currently from 6,000 dress owners, and we’ve got over 800 brands available.”
Whereas users could previously search for items by style, price and other common filters, now they can also search by location and see which items are available to be delivered in three hours.
“We do anything the customer wants in this market,” said Kore, who came in 30th in Inside Retail’s 2022 Top 50 People in E-Commerce. “The opportunity is endless for us.”
Where to next?
The aim of the next funding round is to drive global growth, with an initial focus on the US market, where the platform launched in April 2019. Next year, however, Kore and Koulis are hoping to enter the UK and Europe.
“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be in 191 countries like Airbnb. It’s a scalable platform; there’s no need for warehousing or purchasing inventory,” Kore said.
“While we nail the logistics piece and the payments and the technical side, it’s always been our intention to be a global company.”
To help with this, the co-founders recently expanded their advisory board to include Shane Lenton, CIO at Cue Clothing and founder of Unified Commerce, and Wayne Baskin, deputy CEO and CTO at Booktopia and co-founder of Superhero.
Lenton and Baskin are also investors in the business.