“Both businesses are focused on the circular economy – eBay is about resale, we’re about rentals. Working together was a direct step.”
While the partnership with eBay won’t change the way The Volte is run, the two businesses will promote each other.
“They support our rental, we promote them as our resale partner,” Ms. Olivier said.
The fashion rental market is booming, with retailers such as David Jones and Country Road partnering with players such as Glamcorner, Volte’s competitor.
Globally, pioneer Rent the Runway launched a disappointing initial public offering in 2021 and laid off a quarter of its workforce last year to pave the way to profitability.
Ms. Olivier believes her business model is unique enough to weather economic storms.
“We don’t take inventory,” she said. “This also cuts the headache and ensures that we are focused on one thing: renting clothes. When you hold the object yourself, your focus shifts dramatically. The business will be one of logistics, shipping and laundry.
Consumers can rent their own clothes on the site, and have to handle all the logistics – shipping, returns, cleaning and any damage to the item – themselves. Volte charges a 15 percent commission for the lender and 13.5 percent for the borrower, plus $5 for the insurance option.
Ms. Olivier also believes that Volte clothing achieves a luxury price point.
“Our average dress retails for $1,500 off the rack,” she says, referring to commonly rented brands like Zimmerman and AJ.
“Our customers are renting out their clothes as their property, just like you do with Home and Airbnb. So they invest in providing a great experience for the renter and consider renting as a business.
Consumer analyst Craig Wolford from equities research outfit MST Marke said there would be a “softening” in the rental market post-Covid. To ensure long-term success, platforms must ensure broad choice for users while protecting those who lend their assets, he said.
Mr Wolford said: “Many of these businesses have been incredibly successful during Covid.
“Back then, there was an overabundance of interest in online retail and it was going into the rental market. But now consumers are coming back to the store, and they have more options. So I think the rental appeal is softening.”
Attracting repeat customers was also key, Mr Wolford said.
“These platforms need a certain size to succeed. Big inventory is one thing, but to have long-term success you need a breadth of regions, styles and sizes. Platforms with that breadth are the winners here.”
In October 2022, The Volte began working directly with designers to introduce them to the rental market. Rebecca Vallance, Alemais and Kit X were among the first gifts, and Ms Olivier said there was more to come.
“Our biggest challenge is prioritization,” she said. “We offer luxury fashion for rent, but until recently the website didn’t reflect that, for example. This funding allows us to continue to be the company we know we can be.”