The infinite wardrobe of DressYouCanThe tale of Caterina Maestro, founder of the Milan showroom where it is possible to rent and share the fashion of your dreams.

Jul 27, 2018
Caterina Maestro
Caterina Maestro

We stuffed ourselves with Fast Fashion, only to find out that we would wear the purchased outfit only once, to then discard it. And if fashion is one of the most polluting sectors in the world (apparently the second one after the oil sector), this business model certainly did not make it more sustainable.
Recently, though, some entrepreneurs had the idea of continuing to meet people’s desire for fashion by making it harmless, through a model that draws upon the sharing economy, Airbnb and Netflix. There are already many examples: Gwynnie Bee, Rent The Runway, Chic By Choice, Girl Meets Dress, Drexcode, Share My Bag…
In Italy there is DressYouCan, online and in the showroom in Via Mora 1, Milan (at the Colonne di San Lorenzo), founded by Caterina Maestro.

If I say Circular Economy?
“Today the expression circular economy is on everyone’s lips, almost a label behind which to hide, deluding the market and ourselves that circularity can solve the problem of an excessive resource consumption. Recycling will not be enough to keep up with the growing demand of natural resources, partly because 100% recycling will always be a mere illusion. Therefore, the goal is to reduce or eliminate garment and textile waste, keeping garments and textiles in circulation as long as possible through reuse. Practically going back to a ‘slow fashion’ production.
DressYouCan does exactly this: it is a sort of trend collector that optimizes consumption by making it sustainable (through rental), transferring the concept of the sharing economy into fashion. 38% of the DressYouCan  members have already stated that they buy fewer clothes”.

img_20180315_120139When was the idea of DressYouCan born?
“It is said that great enterprises are born in order to meet a need of society – even one that can be an unconscious need. DressYouCan, instead, was born out of the more than conscious desire of a single person. It was 2014, it was three of us, three girlfriends visiting Morocco. A journey ruined by 4 days of non-stop downpour; so for lack of anything else to do, we got down to draining our credit cards. While bargaining and buying, buying and bargaining, we walked by a delightful showroom in the Medina, where the real object of desire manifested itself before our eyes: a biker jacket that fit all three divinely, but, diabolically, it was a single piece. I said to myself: ‘why not create a wardrobe to be shared, a mecca of desire in which to be able to wear, at last, the much-envied outfit seen on your girlfriend, on the neighbor on the underground or your colleague at the office?’.
Because, after all, although it was born out of the apparently temporary whim of three women, in the end DressYouCan meets a need that is shared by the majority of women: that of owning more clothes than necessary. An Infinite Wardrobe shared between peers, where to take, only if necessary, or just for fun, the outfit of your dreams and then put it back with a light heart and being, for once, fully satisfied”.

How much waste is behind fashion purchases??
“A lot. Our manifesto “In every woman’s wardrobe there are more items than those she actually wears but many fewer that she would dream of wearing”, reflects a portion of the reality, which is incredible, to say the least.  Suffice it to think that:

  • On average, 80% of a woman’s wardrobe is not regularly worn.
  • On average, every woman wastes 95 euros on unworn clothes every year.
  • More than 50% of a woman’s wardrobe has been worn only once, because it is the result of an impulse purchase or because it belongs to a past season/size.
  • 46% of women have in their wardrobe at least an item of clothing that has never been worn or that still has with the tag on".

img_20180315_120521_lowHow much do your customers use the service with sustainability in mind?
“Sustainability and respect for the environment are values inherent in the choices of our customers, who - although they are motivated to rent an item by a special occasion - consciously choose how to use it, instead of owning it, regardless of their spending power or social category. We notice that even more attention is paid by the sector’s operators, with whom we come in contact, and by emerging designers, who really care about recycling and sustainable production”.

You also deal in shoes. Is it more an accessory for clothes… or does anyone just rent a beautiful pair of shoes? 
“DressYouCan is the only e-renting service that offers a complete outfit, including shoes, because it was actually our customers who asked for it. So much so that part of our current and future investments will destined to increasing our shoe supply. It sometimes happens that some customers approach the DressYouCan service thinking they are renting an outfit and then instead they end up falling in love with a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes (and they leave the showroom with them on). It is a growing trend; indeed, we have dedicated a specific Gift Card to it, in order to give our centipede friends the gift of a rental at a fixed price of € 59”.

What are the most popular brands?
“The fundamental premise is that the DressYouCan catalogue has turned versatility into its strong point, having an original business model based on a ‘mixed supply’ made up of pieces by young emerging designers, world-famous brands and iconic pieces from the wardrobes of single users, who play the double role of supplier and consumer.
The choice of devoting a third of the DressYouCan catalogue to fashion names that are unknown on the national scene is particularly appreciated by our customers, who are more interested in the fitting than the brand.
The undisputed fashion icon of the 90s, Manolo Blahnik, is the one who dominates: indeed, the power of  Sex and The City, keeps influencing us new Carries, in defiance of the current Mr Big, thanks to rental”.

_mg_4230_lowWhat are you most proud of in regard to DressYouCan?
“That it offers an innovative and concrete answer to the contradictions of the fashion system and of society: acceleration of fashion’s rhythms and textile waste, fast fashion brands and overproduction, affordability and high quality products, social networks and bloggers and product life expectancy, emerging designers and fashion victims, compulsive shopping and economic crisis, the multiplication of occasions but the coincidence of social contexts.
We proudly claim, besides applying the rental concept to the world of fashion, the creation of the first Infinite Wardrobe accessible from every point of view: economic, physical and ideological. We have brought the fashion experience back, and no longer the brand, VIPs or designers, but the single customer”.

How is your business doing and what are your prospects and plans for the future?
“We trust in the vertical increase in collaborations with new brands and retailers. DressYouCan is a very powerful marketing channel for the fashion industry: for emerging designers, it is the ideal tool to show, promote and distribute their creations without incurring in fixed costs. For international brands and retailers, it is a means through which to reverse the trend of brand commodification, to test innovative product lines in a dynamic manner, to acquire and secure the loyalty of new market segments. Our ‘plan for the future’ is that of conquering the national market, in order to then go abroad, being strong thanks to the advantages connected to the quality, the taste and the creativity of Made in Italy, enhancing especially research, collaboration and, why not, the incubation and promotion of brands that are not very famous on the national market yet. We are planning, along with enhancing the web platform, the strengthening of the logistical structure, with the opening of showrooms in other strategic cities on the national territory”.

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