The latest “Netflix for fashion” comes to us in the form of Wardrobe Wake-Up: an online clothing subscription for women. Founded by Boston-based entrepreneurs Aaron Fleishman and Barbra Dickerman in October, 2013, the site aims to affordably dress the young professional woman for a variety of occasions. With Fleishman and Dickerman fronting the project as CEO and President respectively, the site has steadily gained popularity and prestige since its officially launch last summer.
The company is based in Boston, though it is a nationwide service, distributing to the continental United States. What sets the site apart from similar services is its prices; Wardrobe Wake-Up provides designer clothing rentals at irresistibly low prices.
The typical college-aged or post-grad woman faces a daunting list of financial and social struggles. On the one hand, she needs to have access to business casual items that she can wear to job interviews and meetings. On the other hand, she is cultivating a social life that she needs to dress for (preferably with minimal repeats). Taking this dilemma into account, Fleishman and Dickerman decided to create a site that would make top of the line, designer items available to rent, rock, and return.
“In this sharing economy age where these expensive items no longer have to be owned, they can be shared,” says Fleishman.
In just ten minutes, women can sign up, input style preferences, and receive a garment that suits their needs in the mail. Every member is assigned a stylist, who assesses the client’s personal style preferences and then pick them out an outfit and sends it to them. The site features a variety of tops and dresses from well-known, renowned designers, as well as up and coming designers from the Boston and Brookline areas.
Three students at Boston University agreed to do a trial run with Wardrobe Wake-Up and review the site based on their personal experiences: Jacqlene Boening, Francesca Blanch, and Nicole Jacques. Each one of these young ladies had a different idea about where they wanted to wear these outfits, but none of them had a very specific of an idea about what they wanted. After working with their stylists, all three girls ended up with an outfit that fit or enhanced their aesthetic.
Using Wardrobe Wake-Up was Boening’s first experience with an online shopping outlet. The film and television major didn’t have an exact garment in mind, but by setting some parameters to work within, she figured her stylist couldn’t be too off base. Fortunately, the site’s unique sign up and trial process proved to be both “fun and easy” enough for even a first timer to complete. Boening said, “After I filled out the questionnaire to let their stylist know what I do and don’t like, I recieved an email letting me know that a dress was on the way; it was so simple and quick.”
Her “preference for wearing dresses when going out” was fulfilled when Boening received a black Helmut Lang dress. After wearing out for dinner with friends, she was “completely pleased with the dress. It fit perfectly, was something I would pick out for myself, and met all of the requirements I provided the stylist with.”
Accounting for all of the features unique to Wardrobe Wake-Up, Boening reflected on the convenience of the site. She said that her stylist “took all of the work out of finding the perfect outfit,” saving her the time and energy one usually spends when shopping for an outfit to look nice on a night out. Boening commented that would recommend Wardrobe Wake-Up “ to anyone looking for a new piece to temporarily add to their collection who doesn’t have the time to go out and find something new.”
Blanch, a sophomore studying broadcast journalism, was looking for an outfit that was “business casual, but still fun.” To her surprise, Blanch’s stylist sent her a white bodycon dress that was probably too much fun to wear to a business casual meet-up. “I liked the way the dress fit and how it looked on me,” she commented. But taking in the glamour of the garment, she decided that the dress was better suited for a social gathering.
Blanch wore the dress to a formal dance hosted by her sorority. For a pop of color, she paired the dress with red shoes and a red statement necklace. Even though the dress wasn’t exactly what she was picturing, she was able to take the garment and individualize it to her taste. After finishing the look with softly waved hair and excitement for the night ahead, Blanch had the fun look she was seeking from the very beginning of her trial with the site.
Wardrobe Wake-Up was also in line with Blanch’s craving for efficiency. When it came to the technical aspects of working with Wardrobe Wake-Up, Blanch said, “I like that that they provide a return label/packaging because it makes the process so much easier.” She appreciated that her stylist was about to send her a “well made,” name brand piece “at a fraction of the retail price,” and all Blanch had to do was open and close the box it came in.
For Jacques, working with Wardrobe Wake-Up was an opportunity to try out a more professional look, while also making strides towards a positive self-image. As a senior preparing to graduate from the University’s College of Communication, Jacques is one of many young women making the tough transition between student life and full-time employment life. With a professional networking event coming up, Jacques trusted her stylist to provide her with something that would fit into her lifestyle.
When the navy blue knit dress arrived, Jacques was immediately relieved. She admitted that the dress was “definitely something I would not have picked for myself, especially because it hugged close to my body and I previously was not as familiar and comfortable with that style, but I was very surprised and pleased with how it looked.”
Despite a recent, impressive weight loss of about twenty pounds, Jacques still anticipated a limited selection of clothing would be available to her; Wardrobe Wake-Up only offers clothing up to a size 12. She contacted her stylist about her concerns. Her stylist responded quickly to discuss items that could work and that would be simple for Jacques to style for comfort and confidence. When wearing the dress that was provided, Jacques felt like she had an outfit that would make her social and professional media sites look more official.
(photos courtesy of Arman Maqsudlu and Alyssa Horowitz)