Cinderella Syndrome

Getting Hip to Dress Rental

German celebs in rental dresses source Dresscoded
German celebrities in ballgowns from Dresscoded.com, including actress Nadja Uhl (second from right), the star of "Summer in Berlin."
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The sharing economy is booming, and companies who are early to market, such as DriveNow car sharing, stand to reap the benefits.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The practice of renting formal dresses is well established in the U.S., where one company generated income of $809 million last year from five million customers.
    • Rates for the rental of high-end gowns and dresses generally run about 15 percent of the retail price.
    • Social media gives fashion trends a shorter shelf life.
  • Audio

    Audio

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A black evening dress by Versace for €190, or $216? A dress by Just Cavalli for €140? These are not bargain prices in the summer sales, but rental prices for luxury-brand evening wear.

While German women are slowly getting used to the idea of renting a dress for a reception, it is already a big business in the U.S. The market leader, New York-based Rent the Runway, served more than five million customers last year and generated sales from dress and accessories rentals of $809 million.

Alexandra Grün, the founder and manager of the Munich-based online dress platform dresscoded.com, is pioneering the concept in Germany. “We started in 2013, initially only to outfit film actresses and other celebrities for big events,” said Ms. Grün. Since then the small start-up has become a solid business with growing numbers of customers. “We feel that customers in Germany are becoming more and more open, not only to owning evening dresses, but to renting them,” Ms. Grün added.

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