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We spend most of Weddings Week discussing brides and bridesmaids, but wedding guests deserve some love, too. After all, it's not cheap to cheer on your friends to matrimonial bliss: Airfare, hotels, gifts, and outfits for each event add up. If you're tired of buying a new ensemble for every set of nuptials, then you should get to know StyleLend, a San Francisco-based startup that lets you borrow designer dresses from other Bay Area women.
Let's break that down into terms that every SF-er understands: It's like the UberX or AirBNB of fashion.
StyleLend isn't the only business in the dress-rental game. The company is similar to Rent the Runway in that clients pay a fee to borrow a dress for a few days. But let's discuss the differences. At RTR, you book a dress for a 4-to-8-day period, and your dress travels from the RTR super closet to you, via UPS. StyleLend, by contrast, is a collaborative consumption marketplace, offering 7-day rentals of inventory sourced from other San Franciscans' closets. Borrowers receive dresses either directly from the lender or from a StyleLend stylist within 24 hours. If the dress doesn't fit, the borrower doesn't pay. And since lenders get to set the price, many rentals come out cheaper than a comparable RTR dress. (The Row for $60? Yes, please.)
Most of the available dresses fall within the bridge/contemporary category, with original retail values between $300 and $500 —think DVF or Milly— and rental prices hovering between $45 and $60. There are, of course, some standouts, like a color-blocked Celine number renting for $80, a Zac Posen showstopper for $450, or a scarlet Gucci gown for $120.
But the system isn't as reliable as RTR or a traditional store. Since StyleLend's stock is dependent on what lenders are willing to let out of their closets, dresses are rarely available in multiple sizes. Instead of browsing all the options, you're better off filtering your search by size to avoid the heartbreak of discovering your dream dress won't fit. You can also search by occasion —there's a wedding looks section— and price.
If want to save money on dresses for the 8,000 weddings you'll be attending in this summer, StyleLend will be your new best friend. And if you just teared up thinking about all the money you've spent on the wear-once dresses hanging in your closet, it might be time to recoup your wardrobe budget as a StyleLend lender.
· StyleLend [Official Site]
· Can You Be Too Pretty for Silicon Valley? [Racked]
· Style Lend Launches Out Of Y Combinator To Be The Airbnb For Women's Closets [TechCrunch]