A reserved member-only rental service for designer outfits and jewellery, Date The Ramp brings the celebrity-like experience of dressing up, straight to your doorstep. Currently present in over 10 cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Jaipur and Chandigarh, the brand is gearing up for some landmark changes such as expanding rental wardrobe services to NRIs overseas, in New York, London and Dubai.
With the world’s largest luxury fashion rental stores in Delhi and Mumbai, the collection features 150+ designers, all at one destination, including Ritu Kumar, Rahul Mishra, Monisha Jaisingh, Anushree Reddy, Pernia Qureshi, Gaurang and Gauri and Nainika.
LuxeBook catches up with Chinmoy Panda, Founder & CEO of the Date The Ramp.
Here is how premium rental services in India will boom in the upcoming few years!
What was the idea behind establishing Date The Ramp?
During a chance conversation in 2015, I learned about how people wanted authentic designer products but faced two barriers: high cost and low availability. A lot of them had to settle for replicas but there was a regret of compromise.
So, it struck me that technology and the internet combined with a new-age sharing model could reduce cost and increase the availability of original designer products. This would make high-end fashion convenient and accessible to a bigger number of people, enabling an experience that bypasses ownership. Date The Ramp’s collection is always 100% authentic, as we purchase directly from the designers.
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How has Date The Ramp evolved since its launch in 2016?
Over the years, Date The Ramp has evolved its business model and services. There have been two big changes. First, we transitioned from open-for-all to a members-only approach. Second, our focus is on retail/offline factor and to provide the ‘touch and feel’ experience. Our designer rental clothing brand’s ‘Experience Centers’ has a ramp and a glamorous environment – an ambience that makes one feel like a star!
However, a lot of our services haven’t changed at all. For instance, there are no advance payments, no cancellation/change fees, no damage penalty and no security deposit. The costs quoted on the outfits are all-inclusive – no tricks!
How have you been managing operations during the lockdown?
We kept our retail stores shut for the longest time to avoid health risks for our associates and members.
We reopened in early June and soon started virtual visits through one-to-one video calls. This enables our members to tour the store while sitting at home. These calls are led by our fashion consultants, who recommend and help the buyers to choose suitable outfits.
We have also launched Home Trials in conjunction with Virtual Visits, wherein the members can shortlist few items over the video, and then come in personally or ask for those items or be sent for Home Trial. From shortlisting to trial, fitting and selection – the entire cycle can be done at home.
Looking at the positive response, we will continue home trials as a permanent feature of our service.
How readily are clients opting for rental clothing services currently?
Date The Ramp focuses on occasionwear and the number of occasions has reduced drastically. But we’ve observed that the clients don’t hesitate to take our services if there is a need currently.
How are you ensuring safety, hygiene and sanitisation?
At the store level, we have minimised the physical presence of our staff to the extent possible. We advise members to visit by appointment and in groups of up to 2 only. Trials are limited to 3 outfits, after which the clothes are disinfected with steam and placed for a 24-hour quarantine. Our deliveries and transactions are also safe and contactless.
In the light of the pandemic, we’ve especially invested in new-age UV-C lights that are also used by hospitals for sterilisation.
As all our departments, from stores and deliveries to laundry, have our own teams and equipment, we were able to implement these changes very quickly.
Date The Ramp has 12,000 sq. ft stores in Delhi and Mumbai each. How viable is a brick and mortar model in the rental business?
Practically, the stores are unviable as standalone retail outlets, given that we have expensive stores in premium locations like Defence Colony in Delhi and Khar in Mumbai. However, to build brand leadership, establish trust and have a widespread distribution model in addition to an online website – yes, they make sense for our rental platform.
Are the two rental stores now open?
Yes, the stores are now open. Although, the demand is now subdued in the absence of suitable occasions and events. In stores, we have minimized personal visits. We encourage members to do virtual visits followed by home trials.
Please tell us about your future projects?
We had prepared for 2020 to be our breakout year. Time and tide wait for none, so what was to be, will be. Most of the demand for 2020 has shifted to 2021. For example, people doing online weddings are planning their receptions in 2021, once the situation gets better.
We are now looking at 2021 as a year of opportunity. We will expand our distribution and delivery to 100 more cities in 2021. Looking at the numerous NRI member requests, we will also likely begin to serve in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, London, Singapore and Dubai.
What according to you is the future of luxury/designer rental platforms in India?
I have a very positive outlook and I believe that rentals will become mainstream and expand across the country. In years to come, people will have a minimal capsule wardrobe to meet their core repeat requirements. They will have access to an infinite cloud wardrobe at their fingertips that’s being served on sharing/rental basis.
As an entrepreneur, what have been your challenges to persevere in this pandemic?
Given a crisis, it is natural to undergo a fight or flight response. For me, it was easy to decide: fight. I know we are in this for the long haul. We will succeed, and our purpose is to generate happy experiences for a larger number of people. Giving up is not part of the plan. Notes of appreciation from members on their delightful experience is what keeps me going!
You can apply for a membership at www.datetheramp.com