NEW YORK, United States — New York-based, peer-to-peer luxury rental site Villageluxe has secured $2 million in seed funding, led by investor and entrepreneur Carmen Busquets. Adrian Cheng’s C Ventures, Erica Duignan Minnihan of Reign Ventures and former Mosley Music chief Monique Mosley also participated in the round.
The new funds will be used to grow and scale the invitation-only platform, launched in 2015 by former venture capitalist Julia Gudish Krieger. Thus far, the platform boasts over $10 million worth of inventory, spanning vintage pieces, couture and ready-to-wear from luxury brands including Balenciaga, Gucci, Chanel, Hermès and Céline, with renters and lenders including Man Repeller founder Leandra Medina, DJ Harley Viera Newton, renowned hairstylist Sally Hershberger and photographer Sophie Elgort.
According to chief marketing officer Shanin Molinaro, the company will invest in technology to “enhance features that will allow for a more seamless approach to renting,” such as AI-powered fit technology and search capabilities for items from nearby closets to encourage “hyper-local” sharing, which helps to minimise carbon footprints.
Helping to foster connections within the platform’s invite-only community, or “sisterhood,” is another key feature and Molinaro is focused on. “We already see really intimate conversations [between renters and lenders] taking place. They’ve become friends and they get to know one another,” she said. Expansion is also on the cards, first across US cities — including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami and parts of Texas — before rolling out internationally.
Certainly, Villageluxe is tapping a growing opportunity. The global online clothing rental market was valued at $1 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $1.9 billion by 2023, according to a report by Allied Market Research. North America, the market leader, accounted for 40 percent of global market share in 2017.
Molinaro declined to give figures for the business or number of site users, but noted that about 22,000 women are on the waitlist to join the platform.