Dec 19, 2014
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Chic by choice: the latest dresses from major designers for hire

Dec 19, 2014

Balmain, Alberta Ferretti, Barbara Bui, Hervé Léger, Elie Saab… All names that make fashionistas around the world drool, and some weep, since very few are those who can afford to buy an evening dress by one of these major designers.

And it was based on this that Filipa Neto and Lara Vidreiro, two young Portuguese entrepreneurs, got the idea to launch Chic by choice, a website where users can hire designer dresses from current collections at reasonable prices (starting at £50). 

The average price to hire a dress on Chic by Choice is £100.

"To be able to buy a piece by a major designer is a real pleasure for women. A jumper, trousers, a dress... There are many who invest in a beautiful item that they can wear every day. But it's different for an evening gown," explains Filipa Neto. "It is a much greater investment and the pleasure much more fleeting. They don't want to make the dress worth it by wearing it to every occasion. The ideal solution for these women is thus to hire a dress."

Backed by an education in business and a solid culture in fashion in e-commerce, the two 24-year-olds thus launched their site in the UK in June. 

"We are Portuguese but from the very beginning we wanted Chic by Choice to have an international dimension. We therefore mainly bet on the English market, which is rich with opportunities, while offering delivery in 15 European countries," said Filipa. 

The United Kingdom currently represents 80% of Chic by Choice's revenue, which has been recording a 30% growth per month since its launch. A very promising start that has led the young entrepreneurs to launch their site in France. 

"France is the new priority. We have developed our customer service in French, in addition to English, and invested in communications. We hope that next year France will represent 30% of our rentals, the UK 60%, and the other countries we deliver to (Spain, Italy, Germany, Portugal, etc.) 10%. Given our current growth rate, it is a reasonable objective," explained the co-founder of Chic by Choice. 

To arrive at this success, Chic by Choice has a strong concept and irreproachable customer service and aims at attracting women between 20 and 40. The site thus offers more than 500 dresses (600 in January) at 85% off the retail price.

What's more, to avoid the problem of sizes or possible disappointments due to variations in models, the site offers customers a free back-up model. So instead of just one dress, customers can pick two different dresses in two different sizes and choose the one that fits best for the big day. Once the dresses arrive, they have 24 hours to decide and send back the second dress at no extra charge, only the dress chosen will be charged.

But in any case, anytime a customer places an order, she receives a back-up of the same dress in a smaller or larger size to ensure that she is not left without a dress.  

"This type of service is essential for our customers. It allows them to get past the hesitation of hiring a dress online and ensures satisfaction. For us, it is about creating loyal customers," explained Filipa.

As for the dresses themselves, they are bought directly from the brands and held for one year (the time of a season) before being sold to various partners.

A determining choice for Chic by Choice which, by offering its customers unique pieces from current collections, sets itself apart from its competitors. 

"We discussed this with the brands from the very beginning since it is vital for us to hold onto this positioning. And the labels also come out winners since we offer them a new visibility. A customer who falls for a Barbara Bui or Balmain evening dress on our site is a customer who will likely go out and buy a jumper or a skirt by the same designer," said the young businesswoman.

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