Armoire’s Chief Boss Lady Ambika Singh and Head Engineering Boss Guy Tristan Rees announce Armoire 2.0!
Do you remember the infamous retail dressing room? Women of all shapes and sizes would stand in front of ‘The Big Mirror’ and critically study themselves, seeking advice from whoever was closest. The dressing room became an instantaneous community, a place to safely ask how you could really wear [insert trend] even though you were [insert insecurity], and if an item really looked ok. The dressing room offered raw, intimate moments between strangers, standing around in mis-matched clothing asking each other’s opinions.
When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, that dressing room magic was lost overnight. Before the pandemic, 80% of all apparel was purchased in brick and mortar stores. This quickly shot down to nearly 0%, and with it, we lost a place to confide in strangers, to stand around in socks and share a serendipitous connection. COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on the retail industry, on the way we shop, go to stores, and interact with each other.
At Armoire, a women’s rental clothing service, our product & technology teams quickly recognized the impact of this shift. We needed a way to fundamentally change the online shopping experience to innovate for this new frontier, but more importantly, we needed a way to retain these serendipitous dressing room moments. How do we channel the in-person experiences we love – virtually?
This is how we came up with the PWR Feed (PWR = power!) – a first-of-its-kind digital dressing room for Armoire members. The PWR Feed recreates the experience of trying on new clothes, allowing the Armoire community to scroll through member-uploaded photos in their live feed. She can add items she sees directly to her closet with a quick tap (the virtual equivalent of “I didn’t quite like this on me, but you should try it on,” and throwing hangers over the dressing room walls). Photos are accompanied by reviews sharing triumphs, disappointments, and bra advice – and a commenting function allowing for a two way conversation about fit and style – a nearly impossible task with an Instagram model. What’s more is that instead of the goose-chase that occurs when you see a cute dress on Instagram, our members can “Add to Cart” in 1 Click, straight from the feed.
Armoire is excited to be the first clothing rental company to take this step in the shopping shift, and we owe it to our biggest asset – our Boss Lady members. A communal dressing room is only as good as the community inside it, and to build this we created an experience that celebrated our Boss Lady by putting her at the center. The Boss Lady is the backbone of our families, workplaces, and communities. She comes in all shapes and style preferences, and might walk the walk in a red pantsuit one day, cashmere joggers the next, and a sequined cocktail dress to close out the week. In this lies the magic of the dressing room– the realness that’s at its core.
Unlike the glossy images of commercially motivated Instagram models, our virtual content will follow the unspoken rules of the dressing room: honesty, enthusiasm, and a little love for your fellow Boss Lady.
We saw this community in our PWR Chat, our Facebook group where members shared their favorite looks and exchanged positivity and advice. We watched with awe as our members made our Facebook group the kindest place on the internet. Posting a photo there was the best jolt of joy for me personally over the long weeks of Stay Home. The genesis of rethinking the virtual shopping experience came from these women.
Fundamentally, this innovation revolves around the women who drive Armoire – women who are authentic, supportive, and passionate. Our goal isn’t to recreate the brick and mortar shopping experience, but to build upon it as we move into an increasingly virtual world. We want to retain the richness of experiences like these as we innovate within a necessary reality and shifting means of consumption.
At Armoire, we already know rental is the future of fashion – and “social renting” is the next step. Our goal to empower women through their clothing, or armor, becomes more fully realized as we step into this new reality, bringing the honesty and enthusiasm of our community online. As our modes of consumption change, we bring the human connections of real women to the forefront.
Try our virtual dressing room at armoire.style live today – we’ll have a glass of virtual champagne waiting for you.