The idea for AirRobe came to Melbourne’s Hannon Comazzetto when she realised how many women are sitting on a wealth of accessories, bags and garments.
Her online marketplace, AirRobe, which launched in October, gives people the opportunity to make money from their clothing collections and at the same time help combat the rampant use-and-discard attitude around fashion.
“My whole mission with AirRobe is to create a platform that makes it really easy to buy into pre-loved fashion and to extend the lifespan of clothing and fashion,” says Comazzetto.
The site works a lot like Airbnb, but for clothes. Users sign up, browse clothing, handbags, shoes and accessories and then hit “buy” or “rent” on pieces they love. It’s a shared marketplace, which means individuals can list items they want to sell or lend, and existing second-hand luxury fashion retailers can use the platform to operate a digital shop. (AirRobe has a partner courier service that collects and ships directly between seller and buyer.)
Listing an item is free, but AirRobe charges a 17 per cent commission when the item is rented or sold. Users provide details of their items, such as size, colour, material and condition, and add in a retail value as well as rental or sale prices. If a piece is available to try on, they can list that too. “There is a treasure hunt element to its,” says Comazetto. “You can sometimes find a bargain.”
AirRobe also offers a valet service where the team takes care of the listing for you. “In that case, we charge a 30 per cent commission. And we handle everything, so we take all the photography, we list it and we market it on our site. And then once it sells, we send all the proceeds, minus our commission, to the vendor.”
Comazzetto curates the inventory by setting parameters around the quality and provenance of products listed. She prioritises brands that operate on a season-by-season basis rather than fast-fashion brands. The site features garments and accessories from labels including Gucci, Chloé, Celine, Bassike, Camilla and Marc, Zimmermann and Helmut Lang – everything from this Chanel tweed blazer to this blue leather bag by Trenery.
Comazzetto says that, since launching in October, the AirRobe user base has grown around 30 per cent week-on-week. There are currently around 18,000 users and approximately 2000 items on the site.
This is not Comazzetto’s first business. She was the founder of Borderless, a Melbourne-based startup that harnessed blockchain technology to deliver a currency transfer service at minimal cost. She was also a senior consultant at EY. She wants to use some of that knowledge to make the fashion industry more transparent and enhance the second-hand economy, which is projected to grow to nearly 1.5 times the size of fast fashion within the next 10 years.
“Research shows the average person today buys 60 per cent more items of clothing than they did 15 years ago, but we are only keeping that clothing for half as long as we used to. If we extend the lifespan of a garment by just six months, it reduces its carbon impact by 20 per cent,” says Comazzetto. “Whether these pieces are rented or resold, we are redirecting them back into the system – it’s an important step in closing the loop.”