Have you ever purchased a dress for a special occasion and never worn it again? Is your closet filled with neglected clothing taking up valuable space? Do you want to buy that luxury item and get a return on your investment ? If any of these apply to you, By Rotation offers a solution to these dilemmas. Launched in October 2019, By Rotation is a gamified fashion rental platform, introducing a sustainable approach to renting and sharing wardrobes, giving users the opportunity to profit from quality pieces they aren’t ready to part with permanently.
As someone who’s accumulated a ton of clothing working in the fashion industry over the years, I’ve resorted to the old fashioned approach to getting rid of excess clothing, donations and sidewalk sales. What I’ve gathered over the years is knowing that where my clothes are going is essential. It not only feels good to see something you’ve cherished go into the hands of someone who will appreciate it as much as you; it’s our responsibility as consumers to be aware of their journey. It not only adds to the garment’s story, but also aligns with conscious consumerism. So, why not explore alternative avenues for sharing your wardrobe?
While the idea of renting out my personal wardrobe was something I had never entertained, my perspective shifted after speaking with Eshita Kabara-Davies, the founder of By Rotation. During our conversation, we discussed the intricacies of the product she created, its capacity to enable users to profit, and the significance of community in the organic growth of a successful brand.
Devine Blacksher: Can you share a bit about yourself, where you’re based, what you were doing before starting By Rotation?
Eshita Kabara-Davies: I’m Indian, born in Singapore. Over the past 13 years, I’ve been primarily based in London, spending time in New York City for networking and fundraising. My professional background is in investment, where I have worked with corporate bonds and hedge funds.
DB: Can you share the origin story of By Rotation and what inspired you to create a platform for fashion sharing in 2019?
EKD: By Rotation began as my response to the environmental impact of fast fashion. The idea emerged during my honeymoon in India, I noticed a lot of textile waste. I couldn’t help but feel that I was part of the problem. I had bought new clothes for this trip of a lifetime and I was probably going to donate most of the clothes I bought because I didn’t really like them all that much. And it turns out that 90% of what we donate to charity shops ends up in mountain hills in Asian and African countries. As someone who’s not part of the fashion industry, I thought, what can I do? What if I created a sharing platform where women can borrow things from each other, we can make and save money, we can make new friends, and we can save the planet? And that’s what we’ve built today.
DB: How does By Rotation work, and what sets it apart from other fashion rental platforms?
EKD: First and foremost, By Rotation is a social network. Users can list their clothing items on the app for others to rent or buy. We’ve integrated gamification into the platform, with top lenders having particular badges. If you use the app more often your visibility is enhanced. The beauty of a social network is once you find another “Rotator,” as we call them, who is your style or size, maybe they live near you, you end up repeatedly renting from them over and over again. The experience you have from renting from a person is very different from Rent the Runway; it’s memorable and special. This approach fosters a community where users not only share fashion, but also build connections.
DB: How does By Rotation contribute to a sustainable fashion revolution?
EKD: The platform promotes sustainability by reducing the need for constant fashion consumption. It’s led to the creation of habits that prioritize sustainability, making it an integral part of user’s lives.
DB: The concept of fashion as an asset class is intriguing. How do users strategically plan their purchases, rent them out, and leverage the insights dashboard to manage their fashion investments?
EKD: We have a feature on that app that is similar to the business insights you see on Instagram. You can actually see your lender insights dashboard, which shows you the total value of what you’re listing, so you’ll actually know how much your wardrobe is worth. It also shows you your rental income, return on investment, and top-performing items. This feature empowers users to make strategic fashion decisions. Instead of buying fast fashion, they’re thinking about buying high-quality items, investing in it and then knowing they can spread the cost of that by lending it out to other people.
DB: Could you share some real stories of users who have had memorable experiences on By Rotation?
EKD: There’s a few. We know of brides who have gotten married and found their “Something Borrowed” to individuals starting businesses by renting out their wardrobes. We’ve also known people who’ve become such good friends after renting to each other that they’ve moved in with each other. There’s a woman who was not able to pay for childcare because she had a second child. It was more affordable for her to stay home and make money from renting out her dresses; she’s now made it a full-time job. And then another user even funded her IVF journey, through earnings on the platform.
DB: What are the top renting categories?
EKD: People love to rent a dress because it’s a new outfit very quickly. And then they also like to rent contemporary.
DB: How does By Rotation balance the digital and IRL aspect of community building?
EKD: People are building connections not just on the app, but also in-person. These days, we now have 400,000 users of the app, so we do a lot of in-person events. Often these are ticketed events. Last year, we did a summer party and our first full-day event, the ByRo Insider 2023,
DB: How does the subscription model work?
EKD: The app is free to sign up. We take a 20% commission when a rental request has been approved.