Q+A by Unscripted - The Community For Every Girl
Have you ever noticed how clothes across different stores, not to mention specific brands, seem to have a strikingly similar look and feel? It's as if the fashion industry possesses a secret cloning machine churning out endless copies of the same basic designs. Whether it's a trendy message tee, a particular style, or a runway-inspired look, the industry appears to have an uncanny ability to latch onto certain trends and exploit them to the fullest. And after we've meticulously curated our wardrobes with the essentials, finding unique, expressive pieces becomes a real challenge. Our closets, after a while, begin to resemble an ocean of sameness, leaving us yearning for something a little different. As consumers, we find ourselves trapped in a cycle of fashion déjà vu, where the thrill of discovering something truly unique becomes an elusive pursuit. It's as if the fashion landscape is saturated with echoes of the past, making it increasingly difficult to break free from the monotony and express our individuality through our clothing choices.
A couple of years ago, when I lived in Shanghai, I encountered a fashion stylist with a very peculiar aesthetic. I was so captivated by her style that I often wondered if I would ever be able to tailor my own sense of style to the point where I could find pieces that didn't require me to break the bank. I pondered these questions while simultaneously overlooking the fact that I was standing in a secondhand market! What I've come to learn over time is that the platforms that provide resale or vintage markets are akin to the holy grail for finding that "different" that you sometimes crave. What's even better is when you have the option to filter the price from something that's a bit low to as high as it gets. Outside of resale, we do desire some of those designer pieces from runways or simply high-end brands. But the reality is that sometimes they can be a bit pricey, especially if they're for single wear or something you don't use as often. However, there are solutions to these problems. Picture this: a world where you can wear that runway-inspired look without committing to a long-term relationship with your clothes. Fashion rentals. It's like having an endless closet overflowing with unique, expressive pieces waiting to spruce up your style game.
Aha, the keyword, "Endless." It was quite fascinating to uncover an innovative approach that reshapes how we perceive and engage with fashion – a rental and resale platform. This concept, from the practical aspects of cost-effectiveness and wardrobe flexibility to the broader implications for environmental sustainability, is truly groundbreaking. In an Unscripted Conversation with Rosie Gunn, the founder of Endless, one such platform, she shared her enlightening journey with her business.
Rosie, do you know how to tie a bowtie?
I don’t know.. I’m not sure if I’ve actually ever tried..!
Looking back, what do you think you were most naïve about when you started off Endless?
So many things…basically everything!
The extreme financial pressure (and anxiety caused by it) - both personally and for the business is a big one. There is also just such an enormous amount of work, energy and effort that goes into every single thing that you do (particularly at the start). I think I underestimated that - especially as we were quite literally changing the norm, creating a new concept. It required a lot of thinking power, working out and then persuasion and selling. We also had lots and lots of no’s and rejection - which was quite hard, especially when you’re feeling pretty vulnerable anyway. However! It’s very satisfying when you do manage to move things forward and it all certainly makes you more resilient and stronger as a person.
The best things are usually created when people follow their own vision. With that being said, Endless is quite an interesting name. It almost echoes the infinity sign when I think about it. It is quite an interesting name. Can you tell us more about it, and the inception of this.
That’s exactly it. The meaning of the name echos the core of the business - in fact, the definition of the word ‘Endless' is to have no end or limit. The name was chosen as the vision is to create an endless wardrobe. A destination where the clothes can live on endlessly (and not be thrown away, like fast-fashion). Circular fashion elongates the lifespan of clothing, and means they can truly be worn endlessly (also repaired, up cycled, recycled etc) - the plan is for Endless to be the home of circular fashion.
How do you know when you’ve found an idea that works?
You know you have a business idea that works when you are receiving traction, people are genuinely buying into your product/service - when you have product market fit.
Clothing rentals and resales are revolutionising the fashion industry, and I know you started off a couple of years ago. How was your vision received back then?
I started Endless in the UK in 2019, nearly 5 years ago - and a lot has changed since then!
When I started Endless UK, brands didn’t want to work with us or rent out their clothes, it took a lot of pitching and persuasion for people to try it. To get our first brands on board we flew to Paris fashion week and door knocked, luckily, in the end we managed to get three brands to say yes which meant we could start Endless UK. That really was the beginning of fashion rental in the UK in this way.
The market really had to shift for brands/people/investors to change their opinions on fashion rental. Now it’s actually cool - people get it and can see it’s part of the future of fashion, and want to be part of it. The benefits seem obvious now, for both the planet and customers - it makes a lot of sense. But, back then it wasn’t a known concept - and it was very difficult to break through resistance to change the ’norm’ and get people to see the vision.
Can you remember your first fashion experience? Describe it a bit, whether it is an outfit you put together at 4 years old, or something impactful in your experiences
My youngest memories with fashion would be dressing up at home with my sister. I have always loved dressing up and experimenting with clothes and style, it’s fun! My mum is very creative too and has a love for fabrics/ textiles etc, so I have always been surrounded by that kind of thing.
Do you run the entire business online or do you have aspects of it that's offline? There’s the social media aspect as well right? How important is the Internet in that dialogue with your audience?
That’s right, the whole business is currently online, the Endless platform in online and we of course have social media as well. That may change in the future to include a physical space, stay tuned..! As for most things these days, the internet is indeed vital for our dialogue with our audience - the majority of our customers have found us online, and the business operates online too.
We have some notable career experiences, some great and go down in the books, some not so much. We still take something from it, regardless. Is there a noteworthy experience that felt good for you?
I have many noteworthy experiences both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ - yet, as you say, we always learn something from everything. A huge part of running a start up is the test and learn...test and learn flywheel, you are always learning, evolving and improving. Noteworthy experiences that have felt good for me are often accomplishing the next thing and moving the business forward, working hard on something and finding the solution - and if it works, that feels good! Although, the next milestone does always seems to get bigger and bigger. I always find that acknowledgement that the business is well received leaves a positive feeling - by our customers, press, shareholders.. and knowing that you have created a positive impact.
What is something you wish more people knew about Endless?
I wish more people knew about the concept in general - renting and resale! It makes total sense once people try it, they know they love it and they do it again and again. I guess the difficult part is breaking habits and changing people’s ’norm’.
There are so many layers of misconception when it comes to the concept of sustainable fashion. Some people perceive it as not very stylish if we are using the word sustainable. But thats not the the reality, especially in the context of Endless. How does your brand strike the balance between style and sustainability?
I agree with that, historically sustainability wasn’t necessarily seen as ‘cool’ - whereas now that has completely reversed. Certain brands - especially newer clothing start-ups and businesses have come through with new sustainability focused brands, and these brands are really leading the way now.
With regards to Endless, we aim to balance style and sustainability - as we do offer 500+ brands - including good quality, aspirational, designer and luxury. We still very much offer style and fashion - it’s just mostly ’nearly-new’ rather than new. Our aim is to encourage people to shop their same favourite brands, more consciously - to think before they purchase, and ask themselves, how many times will I wear this item? And shop accordingly.
Rosie, you mention in one article the power of an outfit to transform one's state of mind. Do you have a specific story to share about this?
Yes, many! Generally, I have noticed that when I have days when I'm feeling blue or not great - it’s so easy to stop caring. Kind of like in lockdown, staying at home everyday working from home, wearing leggings and a jumper. For a while, it had it’s appeal… but then you eventually get dressed up, put on something more glam (or whatever your style may be), and suddenly you feel like a new person. I personally find what I’m wearing changes how I feel and my state of mind. Experimenting with your style or having a ‘new’ outfit makes you feel something, maybe it’s a dopamine hit. Certain outfits can make me feel ready to take on the world - others can make me want to curl up inside..!
Our last question is a very popular one for all our unscripted conversations. If we had 5 rooms with clothing rentals, how do we know which one is yours? What sets you apart?
Endless is different as we not only have the likes of luxury Chanel handbags, we also have something for the person heading out to a brunch this weekend - e.g. dresses from Oh Polly, House of CB - we have a range of brands from high-street to luxury designer. The room would have the aesthetic of a premium multi-brand retailer, and not have a thrifty-feel to it - our aim is to make shopping circular like shopping new. Oh, and of course - you can rent and buy, in our room! For those pieces you love and want to wear endlessly.
How can we reach Endless?