The Dress Change: bringing the clothes swapping party online
The fashion industry has found itself under an increasingly uncomfortable spotlight in recent years as everyone from activists to TV documentary makers and the UK parliament has been scrutinising its practices with a particular focus on waste.
One of the results of this has not only been to force the big players to clean up their acts but it has also paved the way for a new generation of entrepreneur to create a new generation of retail model, often focused on the principles of reuse, rental and recycle.
There has been a rash of new hire propositions to launch in the past year from The Endless Wardrobe to My Wardrobe HQ, but The Dress Change takes a somewhat different approach. Founded by Montana Marshall, who is CEO of the business, it has basically brought the concept of the clothes swapping party to a digital platform.
The platform is membership-based with a free version offering one exchange of clothing, footwear or accessories per month and a paid version offering five exchanges for £9 per month. Like other online communities from eBay to Uber where building trust and relationships is key, there is a rating system where users can rate each other from one to five stars. Any users who maintain a rating of 4.75 and over three months will be invited to a free themed event.
Marshall explains the inspiration."The idea for The Dress Change came about in late 2017. I hosted a weekly girl’s night at my house where we would usually cook/order take out,have a few cocktails and catch up on everyone’s world, talking well into the night. On one particular girl’s night, we decided to go out for drinks to a new bar in the area.
"All of a sudden, and before we were due to leave, no one liked what they were wearing. They all started rifling through my wardrobe for items to wear and swapping pieces between each other until everyone was happy and suitably dressed for our impromptu night. I watched this all taking place and the idea for The DressChange was born."
"There are so many women out there who can’t always afford to go out shopping or do big hauls online, so I wanted to create a place where they could get new clothes but at a much cheaper price. People can basically get a whole new outfit for under £10 a month on the site."
For those committed users with the highest ratings on the site, further benefits can had, such as events that no only cover styling tips but also advice on how to mend clothes and even self confidence training.
"The events are an opportunity to socialise, learn and enjoy some great food and drink for free. Given we’re an online platform, we felt the need to bring this into the real world too in the form of our events, so we have multiple touch points with customers. This has worked really well to date," Marshall explains.
Marshall says her vision is to enable all women in the UK to shop for the clothes they love in an affordable way and to create another sustainable, waste free way of shopping in the fashion space.
"Our key audience tend to be the money savvy, low income, eco-friendly, social media types, and second hand shoppers. We also have a number of customers who love vintage items too," she says.
She is also focused on rolling out her sustainable vision to other areas of the business, offering premium services and expanding into other verticals.
"My vision for The Dress Change is to be the way to shop for second hand fashion online. Future plans are to be able to provide 100% biodegradable bags with our Elite memberships and courier collection from your doorstep to make the process of sending/receiving items even smoother. We will also be exploring the option of expanding into other markets," says.