Summary List Placement
In the summer of 2019, Regy Perlera found himself scurrying around New York. He had just left his job as a product designer at Nike and was on the hunt for investors for a new idea: a platform that would allow men to rent designer clothing.
Perlera said investors were skeptical. Sure, Rent the Runway hit a $1 billion valuation in 2019 and other rental fashion platforms have appeared, but those mostly cater to women. He said investors wondered whether men care enough about fashion or the environment to use this kind of platform.
“I remember taking [investor] meetings in every borough,” Perlera, 28, told Insider. “The first few weeks were tough.”
But he was able to convince at least one big investor on his idea: Alexis Ohanian, serial investor and cofounder of Reddit. By the end of July 2019, Perlera was able to raise a $4.3 million funding round from investors including Ohanian’s Initialized Capital, Notation Capital in Brooklyn, and the rapper Nas.
Perlera told Insider that he wants his company Seasons to redefine ownership for the next generation, so consumers won’t have to buy products, only to throw them out soon after. “We’re trying to change the way people think about ownership,” he said.
The platform currently allows users to rent archival luxury from brands such as Prada, Gucci, and Dior, as well as contemporary ones like Jacquemus, Marni, and Our Legacy.
As for the name? Well, its product offerings change based on the seasons, naturally.
Reconnecting with an old partner
After this funding round, Perlera reconnected with an old friend, Luc Succes, 30, who came aboard as cofounder.
They gave themselves four months to build Seasons, “a really tight deadline,” said Succes, now the company’s chief technology officer.
After building the app and the website, Seasons launched the next November, even though investors were saying to wait until March 2020. “Now we know how that would have gone,” Perlera said, expressing his gratitude that he didn’t launch in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The company closed another funding round in February, which helped it get through the year. It still had to temporarily shut down its warehouses, and it began selling more vintage clothing, a decision made by the company’s buying director, Jesse Hudnutt. These vintage buys made up 40% of the company’s summer purchases, on trend with millennials’ increasing interest during the pandemic in vintage clothing, as Insider previously reported.
Inventory is a problem for Seasons, Perlera acknowledged, mostly because it’s so expensive to acquire, and sizes often sell out quickly. To manage demand, the company decided to implement a membership tier program in November 2020, with prices ranging from $65 to $175 a month.
Also, the platform currently services just a limited amount of people, but users have jumped at the opportunity to sign on. When Seasons launched its membership program last year, seeking to cap its users at 300, Perlera said more than 200 signed up within weeks.
“If you think about letting anybody and everybody come to the website, you risk compromising the availability of sizes and styles for people that were already on the platform,” Perlera said.
Right now, the company sources merchandise from more than 18 official brand partners. At first, it didn’t ask brands for permission to sell their products on their platform — Perlera and Succes simply bought the clothes in stores and then offered them on the platform. This was, Perlera said, to prove that people were interested in renting rather than actually buying menswear. Today, Perlera said companies come to them.
Currently, Seasons rents out more than 500 pieces of men’s clothing and has expanded from its initial New York market to locations including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, and Phoenix.
Perlera says he just wants people to care
Perlera and Succes have a long working history — they previously cofounded another tech startup, Often, which lasted from 2014 to 2016.
“There was a moment where, after we went our separate ways after starting the first company, Often, I realized that there was just something really special about building product with somebody that cared the same amount as you did,” Perlera said.
They decided to give entrepreneurship another go, and that’s when Seasons came about. Perlera said they learned from their first startup experience together when it came to finding investors for Seasons.”The second time around, I think we had to build a reputation that we could build a product,” Perlera said.
Next-gen consumers are known to buy products that align with their social missions and values, and Perlera said next-gen menswear consumers have grown up with values popularized by the internet, interacting with their favorite brands and products online. Streetwear and sneaker communities have fostered environments that have shown enthusiasts “it’s okay to care,” he said.
So when it comes to finding ways to keep the planet alive, the internet has told young people that there isn’t really another option — they have to care. Maybe renting a Prada bucket hat will make it easier.