News had it that Glossier and Rent The Runway, two female founded fashion startups entered the unicorn club, each surpassing $1 billion worth of valuation. While we should all celebrate for their success, I wonder is the term “unicorn” somehow diluted and its qualification shrunk to just one single number? Will any newcomer, when valuated above $1 billion, become a unicorn?
I’ve shopped at Glossier’s headquarters a couple of times, I found their powder pink overalls whimsical, product design and offerings breezy and novelty. But I’m not too impressed, not by lipsticks whose caps always crack 1/3 into use. I am, however, convinced by its ability to capture FOMO ( the Fear of Missing Out), the millennial zeitgeist, the anxiety of obliged response to the latest buzz. While Glossier sis might give fans of Huda Beauty the side look, they are ultimately the same crowd who helped make Kylie Jenner the youngest self-made female billionaire.
Rent The Runway, for the most part, is out of my league. In fact, I used to have a hard time understanding its customers. For bridals, occasion attires, I get it, no one wants to wear the same piece twice and few can afford to buy a new piece for every invitation they receive. But day to day rentals or subscriptions? Of course I wouldn’t understand. I myself, obsessively peculiar about every piece I acquire, be it a Uniqlo cotton t-shirt, for that 70% mauve, 30% rusty orange color palette, or a mesmerizing vintage Missoni skirt, whose kaleidoscopic pattern reminiscent of the trippy 70’s, was blind to the fact that there are tens or hundreds of millions of people out there who dislike shopping, have little interest in styling, and would like to have their wardrobe taken care of.
But day to day rentals or subscriptions? “Wear Something New Every Day?”
We certainly don’t NEED to wear something new every day, but do we WANT to wear something new every day? And what does that make of Rent The Runway? An alternative of fast fashion? Does freeing ourselves from ownership endorse us to collectively consume more? Is endless newness an innovation that makes the world a better place?
My clothes grow on me and they are an integral part of my identity. My Craig Green deconstructed trench coat is a successful tax season filing and a hope I cling onto for the future of fashion; My Christopher Kane embellished cross section flower sweater embodies the pre-Alessandro Michele era dorky chic before it went mass and has its fair share of an eternal moment being exhibited at The Met’s 2016 annual show Manus × Machina. Even the basics! Not every black cashmere turtleneck is the same - the stretch level, the shoulder fit, cropped or above the hip, densely ripped or heavily cabled, they all make a significant difference, drawing the fine line between one Parisian classicist and a Steve Jobs wannabe.
A great fashion piece speaks on your behalf. It lets you re-visit a mood, re-claim your territory, re-instate your faith, and re-live a memory. It is a she, or he, or gender by choice; it is Gabrielle the bag, Suzanna the shoe, Jeanne the wrap dress. A great fashion piece deserves the bitter longing and yearning, the excitement and pride of ownership, the cherishment to be held on to, passed on and loved again.
Be it unicorns or mermaids, we do not need more FOMO induced fast fashion. It shall not give us more joy if we can switch our clothes five times a day. Let’s have some JOMO (the Joy of Missing Out). Have you ever wished it to rain so badly so you can make a statement in your oversized waterproof windbreaker? Have you tried to search every corner of the world to find Look 4 from SS 2012? Have you connected with some stranger over your common obsession of an underdog designer? I have. While these moments may sound intense and borderline insane, they are moments that made me who I am. They are personal, not intended for sharing, and certainly non-existent by unboxing a rental box.