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Name: Le Tote
Quick Pitch: Head-to-toe outfits delivered to your door for a monthly fee.
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Genius Idea: Exchange your outfit for another at any time.
The average American buys 64 pieces of clothing per year. Driving that impressively high number are "fast fashion" retail chains like Forever21 and H&M, which produce trendy clothing meant to be worn a handful of times and then disposed of.
At the rate at which many young women are going through clothing, one begins to wonder: Why buy?
Le Tote, a San Francisco-based startup founded (and self-funded) by Ridgecrest Capital's Brett Nothart and Rakesh Tondon, is offering a solution to those asking that very question. For $49 per month, you can "rent" a full outfit, sans shoes, and return it for another at any time. Call it Netflix for fashion.
There are no shipping and return fees, nor are there any set return dates, so you can keep an outfit indefinitely or try out several different ones in a single month.
There are some drawbacks. The biggest, in my opinion, is that you don't get to choose your outfit. Instead, you're asked to fill out a "style profile" and are sent a tote of two accessories (all jewelry) and three garments (dresses, skirts, tanks and blouses) to try on. After the tote arrives, I'm told that a stylist will reach out to you to see whether you're satisfied with its contents and what you'd like to change going forward.
Unlike Rent the Runway, which offers short-period rentals on designer merchandise, all of Le Tote's clothes are private label. A spokesperson for the company wouldn't say where the clothes were sourced from, only that they are from the same wholesale manufacturers that supply stores like Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie.
I was sent a sample tote containing a dress, skirt, blouse, necklace and bracelet. The clothing quality was approximate to what you'd find at Zara: all of the fabrics were synthetics (polyster, rayon) but fashionably cut and with nice details -- I particularly liked the defined weave of the yellow pencil skirt, and the ruching pattern on the taupe-colored dress. The fit, too, was easy: the dress had a stretch waistband, and the sleeveless blouse was loosely draped from the shoulders. The jewelry (pictured) was trendy but obviously inexpensive -- the kind of thing you would find at Forever21 or H&M.
Is it a good value? That depends on what kind of shopper you are. If you tend to think of the clothes you buy as investments, to be worn for several seasons, Le Tote isn't likely to seem like a good value proposition. But if you find yourself dropping $50 for a new outfit at H&M every few weeks, Le Tote may be the perfect fit.
This story originally published on Mashable here.