It’s Re:Leased is shutting down operations

There is no easy way to say this, and there is no way to keep it short. But we’re gonna try;

Throughout the spring, we have been hard at work trying to secure the resources necessary for It’s Re:Leased to continue its journey onwards and upwards.

It is with the absolute heaviest heart, we now have to tell you that we have exhausted all options for It’s Re:Leased and we are forced to shut down operations.

Because we are privileged to have received countless emails, texts, chats, actual letters, drawings from your children, and gifts with your testimonials on how much you appreciate our service — we know these news will be as difficult for you to hear as it is for us to say it.

Why we are shutting down

We understand you might be puzzled with tons of questions about what happened. And as with any startup that doesn’t make it all the way, there are a million little pieces making out the puzzle as to why that is.

As It’s Re:Leased has consistently grown in both community and brand partnerships — having reached 2 000 subscribers and shipped 10 000 orders — giving a clear explanation to why it has come to this is anything but straightforward.

What started with one single order being packed in Johanna’s kitchen quickly grew in numbers thanks to you all.

A fashion rental business is a logistics heavy operation with the inevitable need of physical goods — the clothes. To succeed in scaling a company like this sufficient financing is crucial.

Since the start It’s Re:Leased has consistently managed to grow and exceed customer expectations with limited funding, but for our journey to continue we have been dependent on having the proper resources onboard — something that we have been unable to secure.

Over the past few months we made a final attempt to continue our journey without additional external financing. But due to our timeline and product roadmap this quickly proved to be at the cost of your customer experience and too difficult for us to manage.

Why we started

Our mission with It’s Re:Leased has been to change consumer behaviour at its core, and in doing so change the fashion industry. Some reminders as to why that is necessary:

  • Fashion industry churns out over 100 billion garments a year. 97% of which are made out of virgin resources.
  • The mass production and deliberate over production of clothes are the main causes as to why the fashion industry accounts for 6–10% of global CO2 emissions.
  • Today we buy 15 kg of clothes a year and we throw away 8 of them within a year. On average we buy twice as many clothes today than just 10 years ago — but only using them for half as long.

It’s Re:Leased was born out of the frustration over how this broken system is only accelerating in speed and that the only efforts towards a sustainable fashion industry are centered around recycling fabrics and the message to only consume what you need. The first strategy is moving too slowly and the second is simply not an honest request as it would lead to the death of the trillion dollar economy that is fashion.

Making access more desirable than ownership, has been at the heart of what we’ve done with It’s Re:Leased throughout the years.

Our journey

This mission started with a single rack of clothes, gifted from friends’ closet clean outs. And a Squarespace site that was impossible to integrate with any type of actual booking system so we were basically solely a waiting list for six months.

Actual footage of Johanna when she realized there were more people on that waitlist than we had inventory for:

Buyers don’t respond well to being at full capacity.

But because there were so many of you ready to subscribe to your wardrobes, we were able to convince some of the largest brands in the Nordics to join us. (Not without the initial hesitation — we have built a relationship over 2,5 years with some of our brands before placing the first order with them.)

From the IKEA racks of Johannas home to the showrooms of brands such as Rodebjer — our curation has always been made with the utmost care for your desires and needs.

And that Squarespace site has since long been replaced with our own website where we’ve created a customer experience and subscription service unlike any other on the market.

It’s Re:Leased potential has always been bigger than the resources we’ve had onboard to fully execute on that potential.

To give you an example — in order to meet the demand for the majority of our inventory we would need to stock 30–50 pieces per size. We’ve at maximum been able to stock 10. At any given moment we’ve had between 300–500 people on waitlist for majority of our assortment.

And in Q1 of 2021, nearly a thousand orders were shipped out by one single person — from this space:

You do what you have to.

Countless investors have expressed how impressed they are of our ability to create so much with so little, so it pains us not to be able to prove what we could have achieved with the right resources.

Where we struggled

When time came to secure additional financing for the company, it proved to be a challenging climate with a business relying on operations and inventory.

Fast fashion has depleted the value of clothes, making us all believe that it’s somehow reasonable for a dress to cost the equivalent of a cappuccino from your favorite barista — and we’ve been fighting the mentality that clothes should be cheap, perhaps not even cost us anything at all.

Because we have countless testimonials from our community, thanking us for enabling them to wear the quality they would otherwise be reluctant or unable to buy, we still to this day disagree with the notion that clothes don’t have a value. By now we’re no longer keeping count of how many “I will never buy fast fashion again” quotes we receive from our community — solely because of experiencing the difference between our assortment and the fast fashion brands.

Before we go

The changes necessary to create a sustainable fashion industry are not only possible — in fact, they are requested and appreciated by the customer, should one only have the guts to offer it to her.

Our community’s reach outs over the past few weeks has brought us so much pride and joy — it is evidently clear that It’s Re:Leased has been a part of changing the hearts and minds of so many women (and some men). What has started here can’t be shut down — in one way or another, the rental revolution will surely continue.

Until next time friends — it’s been the privilege of a lifetime. Thank you.

Johanna Norrman, Co-Founder and CEO

Annie Thorell, Co-Founder and CTO

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