Anna Bance Co Founder of Girl Meets Dress
Anna Bance co founder of Girl Meets Dress
1. Was it a light bulb moment when you came up with the basic idea of girl meets dress?
We were the first company to rent luxury fashion online and it is wonderful that Girl Meets Dress is now pioneering the way for rental as an exciting ecommerce category of its own.
The idea for Girl Meets Dress came to me while working as Head of UK PR for French Luxury brand Hermes. As we know, celebrities have always borrowed dresses for special events, and I noticed that with the proliferation of social media everyone is now a mini-celebrity in their own world, adding an increasing social pressure to a women’s inherent desire not to wear the same dress twice.
Launching Girl Meets Dress gave all women can have access to this luxury – being able to easily wear more relevant, trend led, time-sensitive fashions, while continuing to invest and buy only in those classic pieces which will stand the test of time.
2. How easy was it to get the business started up?
When Girl Meets Dress launched back in 2009, the recession mindset dominated which was fantastic timing for the concept.
It meant that “cost per use” was a huge driver, as being smart with money and where to spend it was highly regarded.
We operate in a similar way to that of another retailer, buying the stock from designer brands and then renting the items out to customers for between 10-30% off the retail value.
When researching the market we noticed the trend for fast fashion phenomenon which has been fuelled by mass market retailers’ abilities to manufacture and retail in very short time cycles. so much so that women now buy four times as much clothing as 30 years ago and the average woman has 22 garments in her wardrobe that she has never worn. We took this into consideration and established price points from here.
Retail and consumer habits are changing significantly, both in terms of expectations but also in terms of value. The growth in rental is testament to that change and also highlights consumers growing preference for experience over ownership.
In the past most people lived a more predictable, structured life. Most consumers aspired to own a home, and a car or two. There were certain days for work and days for play, clothes for work and other clothes for play, and so on. Today, people are rapidly evolving how they live and work. What seems increasingly important to people is quality of experience, selection and convenience.
Anna Bance co founder of Girl Meets Dress
3. Being a novel idea altogether was securing finance by banks easy?
Girl Meets Dress.com raised a round of financing in 2013 from Global Founders Capital, the $200M fund from Rocket Internet’s Samwer brothers and former Delivery Hero co-CEO.
4. What it something that people were naturally drawn to or was it a bit of a hard sell hiring dresses?
I would say there had always been a potential market for the service we provide. I spotted a gap in the market for online luxury fashion rental after working as Head Pr for Hermes for a couple of years.
Now a days GirlMeetsDress.com provides millions of women the ability to rent designer dresses and accessories for a fraction of the retail price, allowing them to look and feel beautiful for all of their social events.
5. Your part of a sharing economy that is growing by the day. How do you think you fit into it?
When Girl Meets Dress launched back in 2009, the recession mindset dominated. It meant that “cost per use” was a huge driver, as being smart with money and where to spend it was highly regarded. But it was also clear that people have since realised that experience and time are the most precious commodities we have, and that consequently ownership is becoming more irrelevant than ever before.
6. Where do you see the business growing into?
We started International delivery in 2014 and have expanded into Europe, targeting customers from over 30 different countries including France, Germany, Spain and Italy.
The majority of all transactions are outside of London, enabling customers in all parts of the country to have global designers delivered to their doorstep. Customers can rent over 4,000 dresses from over 150 designers.
This is the first time designer rental has been made accessible in Europe. The expansion will enable customers in all parts of Europe to have access to global designer brands. The expansion into Europe aligns with the GMD team’s global ambition to build a brand combining e-commerce and merchandising expertise with a deep sense of innovation and luxury.