The Interview: Eshita Kabra-Davies, founder, By Rotation
Inspired by her passion for fashion that doesn’t weigh on her conscience, and focusing on practicality over indulgence, Eshita Kabra-Davies founded UK’s first "peer to peer fashion rental app", By Rotation, in April 2019, with the desktop beta platform going live at the beginning of May.
This month has seen the launch of its mobile app for all devices, making it even easier for users, or "Rotators", to list and browse under the #WhatsMineIsYours ethos. Kabra-Davies calls it the Airbnb of mid to luxury fashion, with creating a like-minded community at the core of the concept. The aim is to provide a sustainable and more cost-effective way to a new look, targeting pragmatic, fashion-loving and eco-conscious adults in the UK, as she explains.
Where does the idea behind By Rotation originate?
Having travelled to my motherland or Rajasthan, India, for my honeymoon, I witnessed the first-hand effects of textile waste. I felt compelled to try to bring about change. As an investment professional with over six years of experience in finance [at Standard Life and AXA], I wanted to combine my commercial experience with my passions for fashion and graphic design. I also wanted to create a conscious and inclusive community that democratises fashion and does not harm the planet.
How is By Rotation different?
By Rotation is the first of its kind. It’s a pure peer to peer fashion rental app that enables you to rotate your wardrobe literally at your fingertips, as well as do good for the planet, your wardrobe and wallet at the same time. As we continue to democratise quality mid to luxury fashion, and create an inclusive and accessible community for all, launching the mobile app was the natural and optimal platform for us. The user experience of By Rotation has been likened to Vestiaire Collective and Depop amongst other sharing economy apps that also support the concept of circularity.
What are the general rental costs for clothes and accessories?
Rental costs vary and are set by the lenders themselves – on a per day basis – with percentage discounts offered for longer periods. It’s all at the lender’s discretion. We recommend charging no more than 5% of retail price – which is also indicated when listing the item. Currently on the platform you can rent pieces from £5 per day. As a renter you can put whatever minimum rental period you prefer. So, if it’s not worth your time to just rent your jacket out for a day, then you would maybe put it up for a minimum of maybe five days. Given it is a marketplace, it's all about demand and supply after all. We take a small percentage cut from both the lender and the renter. Returns can either be in-person, via London on-demand courier or Royal Mail tracked.
What happens if the pieces are damaged or in a worse state than before the hire?
Much like Airbnb, conflicts are dealt with between both users. We mediate and resolve conflicts if required. On a case-by-case basis, we would reconciliate any damage or theft of an item. We are also looking to offer insurance as an add-on within the app. Rotators always review and leave feedback for each other – again with the same format as Airbnb, providing a level of trust
What is the real appeal?
You have access to an extensive wardrobe without paying full retail price, as well sharing yours with others allowing for a more sustainable approach to fashion. As well as this, it’s a great way to make passive income. The platform is particularly popular for people going on holiday, weddings and important work events. I created By Rotation after realising I wanted to look new and special every day on my honeymoon, but I didn’t want to give into to the "wear once" mindset and fast fashion. The app is for both men and women, although women have so far been the most active. I would, however, argue that we are probably the most inclusive platform that is out there. We don’t have any waiting lists or subscription fees in order to join. You can join straight away, though obviously we check who you are for security purposes. With the new mobile app we have ID verification.
What have been the most sought-after hire pieces so far?
The sold-out everywhere Jacquemus Le Chiquito bag in pastel blue, an Innika Choo "Iva Biigdres" dress – both in yellow and lavender blue, Dior saddle bags and a WALD Berlin æDrop it Like it's Hot" necklace. A lot of the newer labels that have become Instagram favourites tend to be the most popular, including Réalisation Par and Reformation. Also, the real high-end items from the likes of Dior, Chanel and Missoni that can be rented for an event at a fraction of the original retail price.