An online fashion rental business – which is said to be the first of its kind to tap into the £10bn UK high street clothing market – is expanding its growth plans just five months after launching. Hirestreet hires out dresses for all occasions from high street brands for £7 for 10 days, and is the only rental business to operate in this area of the fashion rental market.
Jesmond-based Hirestreet caters for the 16 to 30-year-old millennial market and their love of affordable clothes, offering an environmentally sustainable alternative to buying outfits and wearing them once. The business, founded by 25-year-old entrepreneur Isabella West, is planning to invest in more stock to help it keep pace with demand, as well as looking to develop a new bespoke website.
A number of jobs are also planned as Hirestreet continues to grow and brings outsourced services in-house. Hirestreet is now on the lookout for investment to support its continued growth.
Isabella – who left her job as a strategy consultant in London to found Hirestreet in her native North East – realised the opportunity to start her business while working on a study into the future of shopping trends for a major London-based retailer.
She said: “The scoping project covered areas like the use of AI and a virtual try-on service, but it was the concept of renting that really interested me.
“I knew renting was huge in the United States and Australia, but not so much in the UK and certainly not in the non-designer market.
“I did some of my own research and realised there was a gap in the market and the potential value there was significant – this is a £100m market and no-one was operating in that space.
“While it is a nice problem to have, we have found that we currently have a lot more demand than stock. Over the summer weddings, holidays and the races were huge business. Now we have huge demand for Christmas bookings – particularly ball gowns and party dresses.
“We do need to add more stock so we can accommodate this demand, our growth is largely organic so far, but investment would help us grow even more quickly… It has been a very steep learning curve for me – I obviously believed that the concept would take off, however the speed in which people have responded has been amazing.
“A lot of work has gone into Hirestreet and that is paying off, but now the goal is to get us to the next level.”
Luke Philpott, corporate solicitor and specialist advisor to startups at Sintons, has assisted Isabella with early stage startup support.
He concluded: “Hirestreet is a highly innovative business which has seen a gap in the market and has gone for it, to great success already.
“Isabella is a hugely impressive young entrepreneur who has the determination to make Hirestreet into a key player in the UK fashion scene.”
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