The utility of a site like Rent the Runway, which allows members to borrow one-time-use, formal designer garb for a fee, is obvious. Spin-offs appealing to niche markets, like Luxemi, which rents high-end sarees and salwars, have also met with success. But what about a lending service for the everyday wardrobe?
The recently-launched start-up Le Tote seeks to offer just that — for $49 a month, the site will send you as many “totes” as you can use, one at a time, over the course of the month. Each package include three pieces of clothing and two coordinating accessories. The clothing, which is manufactured by the site, is akin to fast fashion. The idea is that by renting instead of buying trendy, of-the-moment items, subscribers will obviate the need to purchase excessive, if inexpensive, clothing that they only wear once or twice.
Interestingly, Le Tote’s flat fee per month, while reminiscent of Netflix, is also a nod to the recent boom in the of-the-month retail club model. And unlike Netflix, where you actually pick your film, Le Tote sends you an approximation of what their stylists believe you want, based on a style profile you create at sign-up. (That’s also similar to how the monthly product clubs operate in order to offer personalized product selections.) Stylists follow up with recipients regarding whether they liked their orders, so there’s always room for improvement.
Overall, Le Tote presents a potentially viable alternative to the over-consumption of clothing we just don’t wear enough to justify owning. Will it succeed? We hope the idea takes off — it could help cut down on a good deal of waste.