Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven Sarah Fischer.
A few years ago, we wrote about Rent Frock Repeat, a company that allows users to rent designers dresses for important events. It struck us as a cool idea and a fun way to have a never-ending supply of amazing dresses.
Then we heard of their expansion to Ottawa! Okay, for now it’s a pop-up shop in Gatineau, open until March 30. But when we heard they were bringing hundreds of couture dresses to a funky chalet across the river, well, we had to investigate.
Turns out many Rent Frock Repeat customers are from Ottawa. It was a bit surprising to co-founders Kristy Wieber and Lisa Delorme at first, but as they get to know their clients better it makes perfect sense: Rent Frock Repeat is perfect for business women, politicians, and other professional women who have plenty of upscale events but relatively few places to shop for fitting attire — and even less time.
Plus, their business model — which they call ‘collaborative consumption’ — saves us from the negative cycle of buy dress>wear once>put in closet>feel bad about never wearing again. Good for the wallet, and the environment, we say.
Indeed, their tagline has changed from “Release Your Inner Runway” to “Less Stuff. More Life” to reflect the fact that Rent Frock Repeat is more than just amazing designer dresses at accessible prices. It’s about having less stuff in closets, never to be worn again. “Customers loved the time we saved them from having to drive around from mall to mall – they could come see us once a year, in a very anti-retail environment, and leave with a wish list of dresses that would be at their fingertips when events popped up,” Kristy says.
Through thank-you cards, customer surveys, and other analytical information, Kristy and Lisa realized that Rent Frock Repeat was part of a growing trend in collaborative consumption that allowed women to have more experiences – or more simply put: less stuff, more life.
As we chatted with Kristy and Lisa — two savvy ladies that have grown their business carefully and work with up-and-coming designers in innovative ways — the whole business seemed very exciting. Yes, they are surrounded by stunning dresses, but they also serve as stylists for busy, smart women; as coaches for young designers; as trend-watchers and textile mavens.
Not to skip the delicious dresses. With a little encouragement, I tried on a couple frocks and discovered up-and-coming Calgary designer Emogene and Camila and Marc of Australia. Love! (Sarah stayed away from the fitting room, which was actually just a bedroom on the main floor of the house they’re renting, but can’t stop thinking about this Tadashi dress.)
So if you love dresses — or hate shopping for them in the traditional sense — and think you might need even one in the coming year, do make an appointment with Lisa and Kristy while they’re in town. I didn’t plan on trying one on, but when I did, well, I didn’t have to look in the mirror … it just felt right, in so many ways. Once you pick your favourite dresses (with sizes) your online account lets you save your choices so that when that invite comes, the dress decision will be just a click away.