Designerex is ready to step out in style into a COVID-normal world with tens of millions of dollars worth of dresses set to be rented out on the platform over the next 18 months.
"We happen to be at the right place, with the right technology and solving the right problem, at the right time" Designerex founder Kirsten Kore says.
"The good news following the pandemic is, everything is back on - from weddings, dinner parties to milestone celebrations and people want to feel amazing and beautiful each time.”
For Sydney-based Designerex this means activity is up almost sevenfold on the platform since COVID hit.
"Our monthly active users have grown by 650 per cent since the lockdown first hit," Kore beams.
"And we're expecting over $50 million worth of dresses to be booked over the next 18 months or so.
"That's mind boggling in anyone's language but honestly, I'm just super happy to see people are out enjoying themselves, and catching up and celebrating with their family, friends and colleagues.”
Kirsten and co-founder Costa Koulis started Designerex in 2016 after she "rented" a dress from a complete stranger on Facebook - a risky proposition given it required her to transfer money to the owner with zero protection or guarantee she'd even get what she was paying for.
Fortunately, it all went well but it sparked an idea in Kirsten and Costa which has now evolved into one of the world's largest peer to peer dress sharing platforms.
Importantly, it solves the one problem Kirsten had with her foray into Facebook fashion.
"Designerex is the most secure dress sharing platform on the market," she says.
"We integrate leading real-time ID verification technology, this gives renters and lenders peace of mind when they make and receive a booking request.
"In rare instances that an issue may arise, there's still a layer of security for our users so they can rent and lend, in the most secure and trusted way."
Fast forward a few years and a global pandemic later, Designerex is boasting more than 26,000 designer dresses from 863 brands, listed by nearly 6000 lenders. Some dresses on the platform, which would normally retail for in excess of $2,000, can be rented at a much more affordable level.
In some cases, the dresses are sold out in stores, so they can only be accessed on Designerex.
The platform doesn't own a single garment - much like Airbnb doesn't own a single property. Instead, it operates peer-to-peer model, which means Designerex also enables thousands of people to earn ongoing rental income from dresses they have purchased
"Our mission at Designerex is to drive out the need for fast fashion and provide women with a better solution," Kore says.
"Fast fashion has been successful in the past, because it has given consumers what they want - something new, something quick and something affordable.
"Designerex flips that consumption on its head though, in a far more sustainable way, whilst still addressing all these wants and desires from consumers.”
Kirsten and Costa are now looking to broaden their US footprint after launching into the American market in mid-2019.
"The States are very much an opportunity going forward, especially after our success in Australia," Kore says.
"We are laser-focused on scaling globally and we have the best technology platform in the world to help us do this."
There's also the matter of a post lockdown Australia, which happens to coincide with the Christmas party season.
"Oh yeah, it's probably an understatement to say I'm excited," Kore says.
"I think everyone's looking to letting their hair down after the year we've had so we're expecting an influx of bookings in the weeks and months to come”.
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