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Anna Bance

The Girl Meets Dress co-founder speaks to Marie Davies about the award-winning designer dress rental site.

Can you explain the idea behind Girl Meets Dress?

Girl Meets Dress is a designer dress rental company. We offer more than 2,000 dresses from 150 designer brands for up to a tenth of the retail value. Hiring a dress allows women to very easily wear more trend-led, time-sensitive fashions. To date, the clothes rental market has very much been focused on catering to menswear with limited options available for women.

Where did the original concept come from?

My co-founder Xavier de Lecaros-Aquise and I started the site in 2009. I was inspired by the constant lending and borrowing of samples that goes on behind closed doors within the fashion industry. Why not wear the designer brands you have always aspired to and experience something different for every event?

What is your fashion background?

After graduating from the London College of Fashion, I worked on the editorial side for InStyle, Wallpaper, The Telegraph, Harper’s Bazaar and then went into PR in-house at Hermès, where I stayed for three years as the UK PR manager in London.

Who is the Girl Meets Dress customer?

Our customer demographic is very varied, ranging from a 14-year-old girl off to her school prom, to young professional women who have five weddings this summer and need a different dress for each, through to mothers of the bride.

Would you say designers benefit from being on the site?

With rental, designer labels get to be introduced to potential customers on a regular basis. 98% of our customers rent a new designer label they have never worn previously in their life. That is a huge marketing opportunity for designers trying to reach new customers plus the next generation on a mass scale.

How long is a dress on the site for?

This totally depends on the popularity of each dress. We wanted to ensure that when a dress is in demand we don’t take it off the site too early, to ensure that all customers planning to rent it get the chance. Being not completely seasonal is definitely a plus for us. When we decide to no longer rent a dress, it goes into our Sale section and customers can buy it.

Do you offer any customer loyalty schemes?

We’ve just launched Girl Meets Dress ‘The Club’, in which for a monthly fee of £39 customers can rent any dress, every month.

What’s next for Girl Meets Dress?

We want to continue to grow the business and the team, to innovate and create a brand and service which will give women throughout the UK access to the biggest closet in the world. As such we are looking to raise our first round of investment so as to continue our leadership of this emerging space and be in a position to wow our customers in every way possible.

Quickfire questions

Which are the most popular brands for spring 11?

Customers are loving Halston Heritage, M Missoni, Carven and Hervé Léger among others.

What is the latest label to be added to the site?

We recently launched M Missoni dresses,which caused a lot of excitement.

What makes the perfect dress?

One so fabulous that to wear it once is enough because the memories last forever.

Which is the most hired dress to date?

The twisted halter dress [not pictured] by Halston Heritage is doing very well. Like the dress pictured, it is the perfect summer colour.

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