Peer-to-peer clothing rental company Pickle is embarking on its first retail expansion since launching nearly three years ago.
The company, which was founded by former Blackstone employees Brian McMahon and Julia O’Mara, is opening its first retail location this weekend in Manhattan’s West Village at 21 Eighth Avenue, offering the first permanent physical touchpoint for the digital platform.
“It’s an incredible way to really add an in-real-life component to our online community,” said O’Mara, who is also chief operating officer. “We have a very heavily engaged community on our platform already. There is a 90 percent retention rate and really strong repeat customers. People are really loving using the platform and we have really strong reception at more intimate community events that we hosted before and different happy hours and things we’ve participated in, so that gave us a lot of signal that it would be great to have a place where people could come to do some renting in person and it would also expand our reach for partnerships and marketing initiative.”
O’Mara and McMahon introduced Pickle in 2021 as a social polling platform where users could vote on other users’ fashion purchasing decisions. In the comments of these polls, the founders saw users were recommending pieces from their own closets, which gave them the idea to offer peer-to-peer renting.
Pickle allows users to upload their “closets” to the app, listing their clothing for a small fraction of the retail price. The founders stated many styles are listed at 10 to 20 percent of the original retail price.
Users can sift through the app’s offerings and rent a style directly from a user’s closet. As the company is currently only operating in New York City, Pickle offers a same-day courier system, which allows for the user to receive their rented styles quickly. There is also a shipping option, which the founders stated has been used by users in other cities.
The platform has more than 50,000 styles across 3,000 brands listed from more than 1,000 closets, the founders stated. Pickle’s brand offerings range from labels like Free People, Asos and Princess Polly, to contemporary brands like LoveShackFancy, Staud and Alice + Olivia, and high-end designers such as Chanel, Gucci and Prada.
“You can essentially think of it as Airbnb for clothes that you own,” said McMahon, who is also the chief executive officer. “So people will upload items that are typically newer and trendier and rent them out to others in exchange for some passive income. Our main focus when we launched the marketplace was supply, so making sure that we are curating really strong, trendy, in-demand supply that people want and making them more accessible to people, whether that’s through price or just actual ability to wear something that is sold out everywhere else.”
While Pickle is digitally native, it was important for the founders to open a retail store to have a physical touchpoint to continue growing its community. The store will offer a rotating assortment of users’ closets, starting with several content creators who have already been using Pickle for some time. These creators include Kit Keenan, Lauren Wolfe, Brooks Nader and others.
There will also be an in-store stylist assisting customers with their rentals and a dedicated area for content creation.
Pickle’s storefront comes just two months after the company secured $8 million in seed funding, which was co-led by FirstMark Capital and Craft Ventures. Pickle stated the investment will be used toward expanding into new U.S. markets and categories.
This year Pickle has experienced an average of 55 percent month-over-month revenue growth, which the founders attribute to its 90 percent customer retention rate.
“It’s great that it’s an inventory-less business for us,” O’Mara said. “We don’t have to own anything or try to predict fashion trends a year in advance. We get to see the real-time dynamic trends happening on our platform, so there are things that people are reserving out for the holidays that are sold out online. Some girls found them first, snatched them up, listed them on Pickle and are essentially making a lot of money from those pieces that are in super high demand.”
Going into the new year, Pickle’s next growth initiative will be expanding into Los Angeles. The founders explained the company already has a growing customer base in the city and has plans to introduce its same-day courier offering in the first quarter.