Victoria Prew is the co-founder and chief executive of online fashion rental marketplace Hurr Collective. Headquartered in London, Hurr offers clothing and accessories from over 65 designer and retail partners.
The platform is a two-sided marketplace. On one side, it allows lenders to make money from their under-utilised wardrobes. On the other, renters who can access designer pieces for around 20 per cent of their original retail price.
Prew told Retail Gazette that she co-founded Hurr in 2017 with Matthew Geleta after “spotting a huge gap in the market”. She described the ecommerce business as a “tech-first platform” with thousands of renters and lenders building a “smart solution for fashion”.
“As a millennial, I’m of a generation that doesn’t question shared ownership,” Prew said.
“First-hand, I’ve witnessed the rise of disruptive tech-first businesses such as Uber and Airbnb. We rent cars and houses, so why not our wardrobes?
“As an undergraduate, I founded a tech-led startup and after training in a more traditional corporate environment, I founded Hurr to disrupt the way we consume fashion.”
Prew added that she wanted to “reinvent” how consumers view fashion.
“Three and a half years ago, sustainable fashion was not on the top of the agenda or retailers’ priority list,” she said.
“I founded Hurr to disrupt the way we consume fashion”
“In a very short space of time, the spotlight on fast fashion has really come to the forefront as we know it now.”
Prew describes Hurr as “disrupting the £21 billion UK fashion industry” as clothing rental services continue to pave the way for a more sustainable approach to fashion.
“The number one reason of disruption is because we’re championing access over ownership,” she said.
“When you say to a retailer that people want to access your brand but may not want to own your brand, that’s where the real disruption comes.”
With Brits disposing an estimated £140 million worth of clothing each year, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), Prew said there has “never been a better time to be a circular economy business”. And according to GlobalData, the UK rental market value is expected to reach £2.3 billion by 2029 – a stark increase compared to the estimated £400 million in 2019.
“We know millennials are choosing to opt for more eco-friendly products and pay a premium for such products,” Prew told Retail Gazette.
“They really care about sustainability and they’re also incredibly savvy. They don’t want to spend £500 on a dress that they’re going to wear once to a wedding, so we’re very much at the forefront of people’s minds.
“We want every single person in the UK to be renting their wardrobe over the next 12 months to 24 months.”
To further increase brand awareness, Hurr launched its first ever physical pop-up in luxury department store Selfridges in London in February last year – right before the Covid-19 pandemic prompted the first of three nationwide lockdowns – after securing investment from New Look founder Tom Singh.
The pop-up was initially set to run for six-months, featured a collection of 200 curated pieces available for customers to rent for between four and eight days at a time. The Selfridges Rental Collection also marked the first time a department store has launched its own rental collection and illustrated a shift towards sustainability within the industry.
Prew said partnerships such as the one with Selfridges were putting Hurr on the map as a “pioneer” of the fashion retail sector.
Just last month, Selfridges launched Hurr online as it sought to venture into the rental market. Items are available to rent for four, eight, 10 and 20-day periods and prices start at £20 for a four-day rental.
“Department stores across the UK have always championed innovation and they’ve done some really interesting pop-ups within the circular economy space,” Prew said.
“Selfridges legitimised our business overnight. Over the course of a year, we have proven that you can take what is a pilot scheme, and make it successful.
“The Selfridges Rental Collection is powered by our white label proposition so the customer thinks they are transacting with Selfridges.”
Despite the pandemic affecting many retailers due to lockdowns and an overall lack of demand for non-essential offerings, such as occasion wear, Prew said Hurr was a “Covid success story”.
“We offer clothing for all sorts of occasions, whether it’s a date night, wedding or birthday. Some customers even rented a coat for a picnic in the park,” she said.
“We’re a data-driven platform, most of the decisions we make in a day are made from either what our customer wants to see from us or what we think our customers will want.”
Prew added that Hurr is facing the same challenge today as it did when it was first founded.
“It can be a daunting prospect to rent for the first time, so we spend a lot of time trying to drive commitment and introducing marketing initiatives around that,” she said.
“Our main challenge is getting someone to rent for the very first time.”