Armoire, a clothing rental company founded in Seattle for women, has opened its second retail location in Kirkland at 2245 Carillon Point.
The clothing line was inspired by co-founder Ambika Singh, who wanted to find a solution to cluttered closets, time lost shopping and the stress of not having the right outfit for a specific occasion.
Armoire customers pay a flat $149 fee each month to rent four items of clothing at a time, which can be sent back and swapped out as many times as a member wants. Shipping and cleaning is also included in the membership.
Singh saw in her own wardrobe and buying patterns an opportunity she felt could improve on how women move through the retail world and their own closets.
The premise of the store is multifaceted.
Singh noticed people often bought new clothes when the seasons changed or bought an outfit for an important interview or evening to be worn only once. Singh felt frustrated that a lot of her clothes were either being pushed to the back of her closet, never to be worn again or had out served their original purpose.
Not only were these shopping patterns expensive, but it also took away valuable time she felt could be used elsewhere. According to Armoire, the average woman spends nearly 219 hours a year shopping for clothes and roughly $161 per month on outfits, not counting shoes.
Through high-tech algorithms and personal stylists the store curates outfits that work for its members.
The start-up store also wanted to eliminate cost factors like normal wear and tear people see in their clothes or the occasional laundry mishap. Clothes are inspected and rotated out when they become damaged or torn.
Singh also included in her store the tag-less experience. Rather than being focused on how much the article of clothing might be, women are able to walk into the store and pick out outfits they like and not have to worry about the practicality or feel encumbered by the thought of buying to enjoy “forever.”
The store stocks items ranging from high-end black tie attire to casual beachwear. All clothes are shipped to the customer and while customers do have the option to try on what they will be wearing, the store was created with the idea in mind that many working professionals don’t have a lot of extra time. People still enjoy going to malls and window shop, but as society becomes ever more tech-based retail stores are getting more creative in how they engage with their audiences and adapt to the modern working woman’s lifestyle.
Armoire community development manager Lili Morton said the reason for the further expansion into the Eastside was the fact that their customers really enjoy the ability to try on the clothes when they do have time.
“I love making fashion accessible and not intimidating,” Morton said. “I think that we do that well through this space. We’re still showing people high end-designer pieces, but it’s still fun.”
She said it can also sometimes be hard for people to wrap their heads around the idea of renting clothes, but said this issue is quickly resolved once people enter their store.
“You can rent your furniture, you can rent a car, other people’s houses when you travel and now you can rent clothes,” Morton said.
Morton also pointed out a lot of the feedback they receive from their customers is that it can be freeing to people not to have to feel committed to an outfit, allowing people to experiment with new trends or new styles.
“A lot of the time you may buy something in a store and then you wear it once or you don’t wear it at all and then there’s this guilt associated with this article of clothing,” Morton said. “Armoire is really meant to complement your wardrobe and allow you to have access to brands and styles you may not have otherwise…you’re still keeping your current wardrobe and those pieces that you have an emotional connection to, but we found our members really enjoy experimenting and having fun and just the ease of having a curated selection at their disposal.”