Clothing rental platform Onloan pausing operations
Clothing rental platform Onloan has announced that it is pausing its operations, citing the pandemic, HMRC legislation around leasing, and stock issues as key obstacles that had made it difficult for the business to fundraise and grow to the next level.
"We have some big news and sadly not the good kind - Onloan is pausing operations," Co-Founders Tamsin Chislett and Natalie-Anne Hasseck wrote on Onloan's Instagram account. They also informed followers that from February would be the last month that users would be able to rent items "for now".
In a series of posts they said: "We are incredibly proud of what we have built: a pioneering rental subscription, providing access to the world's greatest contemporary designers. Where we nailed the service, the piece of the rental puzzle we have not yet cracked is how to finance the clothes to grow Onloan to the next level. We're sure you could all see from browsing the site we were too frequently out of stock with our best pieces out on Loan all the time.
"Pausing goes against everything we've been taught in hard and fast "start-up school" - but the fashion industry has been dictated by speed for far too long and from our view it's not going well. It's time to take a minute and reflect before moving forward."
Pausing the businesses' operations also entails the sale of Onloan's entire stock of clothing, which is now available for customers to buy preloved on its website until mid-March.
CEO and co-founder Tamsin Chislett commented: “Our position was unique in the growing rental market and a UK industry first. We made a success of so many things, from renting daywear instead of just occasionwear, to our subscription model with economics that worked well for both the customer and for Onloan. We set out to give customers a way to give up fast fashion entirely, and we heard over and over again that we had succeeded. However we faced significant challenges too. The pandemic meant revenue was up and down in line with the lockdowns. Who knows where we might have got to without it. And without EIS tax relief a huge portion of investment options were unavailable to us - particularly those that might have supported a sensible, sustainable level of growth. The EIS rules need to change to support the circular economy, not just in fashion, but across so many sectors.”
Natalie Hasseck, Creative Director and Co-Founder added: “I am so incredibly proud of what we have achieved: we introduced some of the greatest contemporary designers to rental. To hear from our customers that they gave up the highstreet and fast fashion because of Onloan will always be the greatest gift. We would like to thank our incredible Loaners, our brands, our investors and our wonderful team for their loyalty and commitment and for making Onloan what it has been these last three years.”
In November Onloan had run its first 'Loanerville' pop-up at 9 Club Row in Shoreditch allowing potential users and existing customers to see the businesses' rental wardrobe in-person. The pop-up also hosted a variety of events, including a panel discussion series on sustainability, new designer launches and workshops.
In an episode of TheIndustry.fashion's InConversation podcast Chislett and Hasseck spoke about how they decided to launch their business together after coming from very different career paths, how Onloan's business model was one of its main unique selling points and why it focused on "elevated daywear" instead of occasion wear.