Websites that allow you to swap clothing are nothing new (we grew fond of Swapdom some time ago!), and Rent the Runway has long had the designer rental market cornered. But Harvard University graduate Julia Gudish saw a niche that needed filling in the market: A perfect combination of the two.
Her solution? She and her business partner Dmitri Smirnov co-founded the just-launched site VillageLuxe, which allows women all over Manhattan (they have plans to expand in other U.S. cities like Los Angeles and Miami eventually) to both lend and rent designer goods with other women across the city.
“When you think about fashion, it’s really just a medium to express yourself. We all have different personalities and we ask ourselves, ‘Who am I today?’ when we’re getting dressed,” Julia tells StyleCaster.
“That’s why we invest so much money and time in our closets. Thinking about it as a business person, we under-utilize our closets in many ways; when you think about your closet as an asset, what no one’s done is look at the things we don’t want to sell or consign, and that’s where there’s this idea of unlocked value. I’m not wearing it right now, so someone else could be.”
How It Works
As of right now, VillageLuxe is still only open to select members of the fashion community; but we did some digging and came across some truly amazing finds: Chanel sneakers, Lanvin sweaters, Prada bags and beyond.
The entire site is invite-only; this helps not only curate the selection of pieces available on the site, but also ensures that the community of women renting and lending stays tight and well-managed.
“If we could come up with a way to really allow people to share their closets and bring out that unlocked value, that’s where this idea was born,” Julia says. “So people put their closets up on VillageLuxe, whether it’s designer, cool vintage pieces, things you got when you were traveling; other people can search your closet and find things they like.”
“This is really Air Bnb for high-end fashion,” she continues. To that end, each client on the site who posts a closet decides everything about the exchange: what price to set, whether or not there’s a deposit, how long to rent pieces out for, and even whether or not to approve requests for rental.
Not surprisingly, most women have emotional and strong financial connections to designer pieces. Julia says she understands this, and for that reason, there’s a stringent process for making sure the items you rent out to others are taken care of.
“Based on my comfort level and how sentimental a certain piece is to me, maybe I decide to only lend my Gucci bag to people I personally know or people I have mutual friends with,” Julia says. “There’s also a mandatory review process after an exchange is complete. There are all the levers to pull to make sure I feel comfortable renting out something to someone.”
Special Invite Code: The site is invite-only, but we managed to score invites for the first 500 StyleCaster readers who head over to the site! Just enter the code “STYLE” when you get there.
Check it out: VillageLuxe.com