Fashion shopping in Hong Kong

Start-up Yeechoo's 'shared wardrobe' offers Hongkongers dresses for rent

Local dress rental service allows Hongkongers to indulge their inner fashionisa

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 October, 2015, 12:00pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 October, 2015, 12:00pm

Hong Kong's love of the sharing economy has taken a fashionable turn with emerging start-up Yeechoo. Established last year by former colleagues and now business partners Shan Shan and Abby Zhang, the business lets Hong Kong women rent a range of dresses at a fraction of the retail price.

"We started Yeechoo because we experienced the same problem that every girl has. With occasions like a romantic dinner or a girl's night out, we need to dress up all the time. The problem is that we don't want to be seen in the same dress twice," says Shan. "At the same time, although we appreciate designer pieces, we cannot justify the high costs. That's why we created this shared closet."

Having grown up in the US and Australia, both founders recognised the exciting opportunity to maximise a dress' cost per wear. So with their finance background and quantitative skills, they established Yeechoo.

"In terms of pricing, Yeechoo ranges from one-seventh to as low as one-twentieth of the retail price. This pricing depends on several factors. For more casual pieces, we make the price lower. For gowns that are very formal, tend to be more delicate, and have higher-quality elements like beading and embroidery, we will charge a little more," says Zhang.

Stocking US sizes from 0 to 8, customers are able to view each of Yeechoo's garment choices online, make their selection, and have the piece delivered by courier for a four-day rental period. The business also offers an additional showroom service in Central should clients wish to try the dresses on. Designer labels on offer include Victoria Beckham, Badgley Mischka and Oscar de la Renta.

The first year for Yeechoo was a challenge, as both businesswomen used their own savings on the project. Without a professional background in fashion and only an interest in the industry, there was also a steep learning curve. Since then, the brand has grown steadily and resonated with a female population that is increasingly receptive to wearing second-hand clothes.

"The dress-up culture isvery advanced here," says Shan.

"We also have a good infrastructure to support us," adds Zhang. "We have access to very good dry cleaning services so there are no hygiene problems. We also have not encountered any problems with our dresses being ruined, or not returned. Hong Kong is a good and safe place to start with, and to really get acquainted with the whole operation of the business."

Customers vary widely in age and occupation, from high school girls, to successful businesswomen, to tai-tais, they say. Regardless of age, background, or social identity, the desire to look good is universal, and the Yeechoo pair are offering low commitment with less buyers remorse, and cost effectiveness.

All of this has led to the company successfully raising capital with a round of funding with two investors. Because of the potential of the business, Zhang and Shan say they are ready to take the business to the next level. Part of this expansion includes a wider product range, including more designers, sizes and a foray into accessories.

The "next level" is that Yeechoo now caters to the mainland market. A new website, along with a soon-to-open warehouse in Shenzhen, has the business poised to move forward. And the pair claim to be practising what they preach.

"I haven't purchased a dress for myself since starting Yeechoo," says Zhang.

"It is so convenient to have this shared wardrobe, and we hope other people can experience first-hand how great it really is."