As rental fashion looks poised to shake up the online fashion market, Drapers spoke to Filipa Neto, co-founder of rental site Chic by Choice about tech, innovation, and the joy of dressing up.
Filipa Neto, 26, and Lana Vedreiro founded Chic by Choice, an occasionwear rental site now based in London, in 2014 while the pair were studying at university in Lisbon. Inspired by their love of glitz, but their reluctance to pay huge sums for dresses they would only wear once, Chic by Choice now features brands including Self-Portrait and Valentino and sales grew 100% from 2015 to 2016. Filipa Neto sat down with Drapers to talk tech, innovation and the joy of dressing up.
How did Chic by Choice start?
When I was at university in Lisbon, my co-founder, Lara Vidreiro, and I used to go to lots of parties with the same people. It was the start of Instagram and Facebook and social media, and we found that we were spending too much money on new clothes for the events. We were spending too much on pieces that just weren’t investment pieces, and it wasn’t sustainable. We wanted to create something where we would still have access to dream clothes, but without paying so much for them.
Adeline black 2
Did you have any fashion background when you set up Chic by Choice?
When I joined the dots, I realised that there is a reason that I ended up doing this. My mum’s family runs a manufacturing business for underwear, and my dad runs a retail software company. He develops software for luxury boutiques in Portugal. What I do is a bridge between technology and fashion – understanding manufacturing, mark ups and wholesale and then also understanding how technology can enable fashion, and that’s a passion of mine.
What’s been the highlight of running the business so far?
The fact that you can meet incredible people in the fashion industry. In a city like London, which is the centre of fashion ecommerce, it’s been a true privilege to access the kind of investors who we thought would be difficult to get advice or feedback from. That’s what I appreciate the most: receiving advice from senior people who are so open minded and love fashion, and want to move it forward or bring it forward.
Img 6624 rgb nologo 2
What are some of the day-to-day challenges?
The fact that the company is growing makes it complex in terms of logistics. We have to make it hassle-free for the customer and we have a business that is 100% returns, so that is a challenge. We have to build these reverse logistics at the same time that we want to build new things for the customer. But at the same time the operation is growing so you constantly have to handle things in a different way. The same methods don’t work when your company is five times bigger.
Who are some of your industry inspirations?
I like Farfetch and Moda Operandi. They are bringing a new way of looking at fashion to the industry. I think their fashion distribution in particular is incredible. These two businesses do it in different ways, but they bring a layer of innovation to fashion distribution, and I think that is pretty aligned with what rentals are doing.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
Fashion is a traditional industry and I think one of the most important things that needs to change is the openness to new things and new technology.
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Drinking a glass of wine and going to a food market. I really enjoy food. I think we spend so much of our time working that we end up making food something special.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given?
I would say that one of the most important things I realised is that you have to listen to everyone, but in the end you need to follow your own instincts. There’s nothing worse than executing a plan that is someone else’s, and doesn’t work for you. One piece of advice I’ve heard is that there is a recipe for every industry, but there is no recipe for success.
Favourite clothing brand
For effortless style, I would say Alexis and for night, Marchesa – I like some glamour
Favourite places to shop
Selfridges and The Outnet
Last fashion purchase
The Furla Metropolis bag in black and white
Bali, but that was five years ago now
Last book you read
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
Last film you watched
This is my first job!