Last year, sustainable fashionistas in lockdown embraced rental options for all their Zoom-worthy ensembles. Here, Glam Corner CEO Dean Jones talks about the interesting consumer shifts he observed in 2020. When weddings, parties and other events were cancelled at the peak of the pandemic, it may have seemed like a fashion rental business like Glam Corner could be in for strife, but 2020 brought on some very exciting moments for the Australian business – including raising $12 million in
in series B funding, the largest amount ever received by a B Corp company. “It’s a priority for a lot of funds to invest more in businesses that combine profit with purpose and those two things don’t have to be usually exclusive, in fact they’re self-enforcing,” says Glam Corner co-founder Dean Jones. “Businesses like ourselves, Beyond Me and Tesla are great examples of that, where they’ve built a phenomenal product and brand and as they grow, the positive impact is magnified. That’s amazing and that’s what B Corp is all about.” Jones believes the rise of the conscious consumer is an opportunity for retailers to adjust their value propositions and help the planet. “We have a lot of faith in how many customers have taken stock of their consumption habits during 2020 and are looking for new ways to shop more consciously, ethically and sustainably,” he says. “This is a huge and positive opportunity for pretty much every retailer, big or small, and across all sectors to craft their offering to be more in tune with this significant shift. So we get excited about what this will bring in 2021 and beyond.” Glam Corner, which pioneered clothing rental and the reverse logistics model in Australia, is on a mission to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable and circular economy. “Last year was very transformative for Glam Corner. While the onset of Covid-19 certainly affected the retail industry and supply chains around the globe, we’ve since seen some significant shifts in consumer behaviour towards rental and sustainable fashion solutions,” Jones says. While the evening wear category suffered as weddings and other formal events were cancelled, the model of renting clothes has grown in popularity. “The evening wear category was certainly affected initially however we saw a broader and longer lasting impact on customer behaviour and the adoption of rental as a more sustainable and affordable way to manage your wardrobe needs – especially when working from home,” Jones says. “It has never made less sense for our customer to own her entire wardrobe outright than this year.” While Glam Corner began in the most obvious category for rental fashion – evening wear and ballgowns – it has since expanded its product selection to cater for a range of occasions. “We realised very early on that a key lever of the growth strategy of any retailer is its merchandising mix. So we continued to expand into more product lines such as day dresses for christenings and the races through to more casual playsuits and kaftans for birthdays and engagement parties,” Jones says. “Interestingly, given the impact of working from home and video call meetings, we saw a surge in ‘above the waist’ products going out to customers – especially when thousands of physical retailers around the country were forced to close. Renting a never-ending stream of clothing without the burden of ownership has never made more sense to our customer.” A bricks-and-mortar debut In October 2020, Glam Corner unveiled a new partnership with department store David Jones, opening a location where shoppers can rent and return clothes from a David Jones store. The partnership will vastly expand Glam Corner’s reach. Customers can now book an appointment with a stylist and try on David Jones’ pieces for rental, while Glam Corner handles the rental logistics, bookings and fulfilment capabilities. Glam Corner also built a bespoke online section on the David Jones site so customers can rent items from the comfort of their own home. “Since my wife Audrey and I founded this business over eight years ago, our vision has been to build an endless online wardrobe for the women of Australia,” Jones says. “The launch of our partnership with David Jones was such an exciting milestone for Glam Corner. To be working closely together with one of the most prominent names in Australian retail was a huge ‘pinch me’ moment for our company. “Our vision has always been to be every Australian woman’s endless wardrobe and this collaboration has achieved another big step in that direction. This partnership gives customers a more accessible and sustainable way to access a wide array of local Australian designer brands.” Jones says Glam Corner will continue to invest in its in-house capabilities to improve the customer experience. “Our unique reverse-logistics fulfilment, garment care system and processes are actually the ‘secret sauce’ that makes Glam Corner special,” Jones says. “The entire Glam Corner fulfilment centre operates using customised software and hardware that was built in-house by the amazing Glam Corner software engineering and technology team. “When the product team identifies an area to make our customer’s experience better, we can jump into building and launching it, rather than spending time looking for ways it could integrate with third-party software. Having this technological capability at our fingertips has allowed us to move faster and continuously build better products and services for our customers.” The retailer is also introducing more and more brands to the rental platform, and expanding the supporting fulfilment and logistics infrastructure to process orders more quickly and on a larger scale. “A lot of retail businesses have had a turbulent year that has seen the acceleration of a lot of incoming change,” Jones says. “While the speed of this change was more rapid and difficult than some would have liked, in the end it was always going to be better for the customer. And if it is good for the customer it is good for retailers.” This article was originally published in the Australian Retail Outlook, powered by KPMG. To download the report, click here.