"Her Wardrobe" is the Designer Dress-Loving Sister You Never Had

One of the best things about having a sister or a friend with the same dress size (and excellent taste in clothes!) is that you can borrow each other’s outfits. Her Wardrobe, a designer dress rental, provides you with that exact experience, no sister necessary! (Of course, I’d still recommend having friends to go out and have fun with.)

Alex Osmond, Her Wardrobe’s founder, had originally set out to solve the dilemma every woman has had at least once in her lifetime: a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. Along the way, she’s discovered how having designer dresses isn’t just about looking good — it’s all about the experiences and memories you make while wearing them. Here’s her story.

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How did you come up with Her Wardrobe?

I first penned the idea for a dress rental business when I was studying at the Melbourne School of Fashion in 2009. As part of our final assessment we were required to write a business plan for our “dream business” and I came up with the rental concept. It was a brick and mortar store (with a completely different name), but it fundamentally worked the same way that Her Wardrobe does now — we give women access to high end designer garments for a fraction of the price.

Originally I set out to solve the age-old problem of “A closet full of clothes and nothing to wear” — however, as the business has evolved and I have learnt more about our customers, I have come to realise that in fact, Her Wardrobe is for women who value experiences over their wardrobes and delight in the opportunity to wear a new designer dress at every event, without having to forego their financial security. Her Wardrobe does so much more for women than just extend their wardrobe selection.

It took five years from leaving fashion school to actually embark on my own business. Her Wardrobe launched in September 2014, with a handful of designer dresses from my own wardrobe and a Facebook page. A month later I had my first couple of designers onboard and version one of our website, and we have slowly grown from there.

“She could be any girl you have ever wanted to steal a piece of clothing from.”

Who is “her” in Her Wardrobe?

Even when I first scribbled down our name I never thought of ‘Her’ as anyone in particular. I liked that it was anonymous — that she could be any girl you have ever wanted to steal a piece of clothing from. Now, we use the hashtag #whatshersismine to illustrate that not only can what she is wearing be yours for the night, but that in a wider sense, Her Wardrobe exists because we want to make designer fashion accessible to everyone.

I came up with the name after writing a very long list of dream names and promptly crossing off the vast majority as they were unavailable. It is hard to find a name for a fashion company that isn’t already taken!

How does Her Wardrobe work? How would one rent a dress?

Renting a designer dress, headpiece or bag is really easy at Her Wardrobe. You can browse all of our products online at www.herwardrobe.com.au. You simply select your favourite piece and then choose the date you would like to have it delivered from a drop down calendar. We show live availability so you know on the spot if the dress or hat you are after is available and then you can check out just as you would on any online store.

We deliver your chosen item on or before the date you selected and we include a return envelope and dry cleaning.

We also have a showroom in Kensington, Victoria where a lot of our customers choose to come in and try pieces on in person — there is then the option to take something home with you on the day.

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Parties and events can sometimes get a little rowdy — what happens if I spill something on the dress?

We want our customers to have a great night in their dress so we definitely don’t discourage celebration — we simply ask that our customers take as much care as they can, and when accidents do happen, our fantastic dry cleaners are there to take care of it.

How do you choose which dresses to buy?

In the beginning I did go a lot off of gut feeling and ultimately chose styles that I would love to wear. More recently I have come to learn what rents well and what doesn’t and I have also tried to order a broader range of shapes, colours and styles so that there is something for everybody. Bright colours and bold patterns are great renters because you really can only wear them once!

Tell us about your Spring Racing Edit — what are the trends this season?

We were lucky enough to shoot our Spring Racing Edit at Moonee Valley Racecourse this year, and as you can see from the photos, it was the perfect setting for what is a really strong Spring/Summer season. While crowns have been on trend for a couple of years now, this year the smaller, crown headbands are definitely turning heads. Pieces such as Viktoria Novak’s ‘Suzette‘ and Natalie Bikicki’s ‘Crown of Roses‘ are already proving to be our most popular pieces this year.

Across both fashion and millinery I am seeing blue come through as a very strong colour. I love Aurelio Costarella’s ‘Petrol Excelsior Dress‘ paired with Allport Millinery’s ‘Walk in the Park Headpiece‘.

Personally, which are your top 5 favourites and ones you’d wear yourself?

My top 5 dresses are Self Portrait’s ‘Millie Layered Lace Dress‘, Thurley’s ‘Mid Summer Mediterranean Dress‘, Aurelio Costarella’s ‘Orchid Excelsior Dress‘, Thurley’s ‘Floral Climber Dress‘, and Thurley’s ‘Asteroid Dress‘.

As for my top 5 headpieces: Allport Millinery’s ‘Stargazer‘, Allport Millinery’s ‘Red Flower Teardrop‘, Viktoria Novak’s ‘Rosette‘, Danica Erard’s ‘Lana Headpiece‘, and Natalie Bikicki’s ‘Navy Leaves‘.

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Who are your favourite designers? Milliners?

That is such a hard question! I can honestly say that all of the designers and milliners we stock at Her Wardrobe are some of my absolute favourites. I would never stock a label if I didn’t have an affinity with it myself whether it be an admiration for the designs or a love of shapes and tailoring.

There are a few designers that I would absolutely love to stock in the future: Zimmermann, Carla Zampatti and Nerida Winter are at the top of my wish list!

Describe a perfect outfit for a major race day.

I had a customer come in just the other day and we put together our Thurley ‘Bianca Dress‘ with Natalie Bikicki’s ‘Black Rose Crown‘ and it looked divine! Pair it will a pair of black patent pumps and you have yourself a killer outfit.

If I myself were heading to Derby Day I would be a bit naughty and wear the Self Portrait ‘Millie Layered Lace Dress‘ and Allport Millinery ‘Red Flower Teardrop‘ – I just love these two together even if it does bend the traditional Black & White dress code.

For Oaks Day I am loving the Thurley ‘Floral Climber Dress‘ with Viktoria Novak’s ‘Suzette Crown‘ – there is something about baby blue that is equally perfect as it is ground breaking for Ladies Day.

Track Mode is a horse racing and fashion site founded and curated by Nina O’Brien. Find more racing fashion inspiration in our Ultimate Guide to Spring Racing Carnival 2016, or skip straight to What to Wear to the Races. You can also subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter to get exclusive race day fashion edits straight to your inbox, and be friends with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google+.