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Saturday, 1 July 2017

(The Star) A new big market for ‘share-wear‘

Would you like to have unlimited access to clothes from different brands?

What if I told you that it can be done for just a small fee every month?

The concept of renting ready-to-wear apparel is not new, but in Malaysia, it is still in its infancy stage.

Zarrel Sdn Bhd is offering a different online shopping experience, and contributing to the reinvention of the fashion industry.

What began as a trip to Bangkok soon turned into an business prospect as co-founder Ong Sue Jinn realised the vibrancy and dynamics of the fashion industry.

When she learnt how the industry functioned and its huge potential in Malaysia, she got really excited.

After researching on similar concepts in the United States and Japan, and pitching to investors and key stakeholders, she established Zarrel in June last year together with founder Ong Zhong-Ken.

According to Zhong-Ken, the beauty of Zarrel is that it allows women to have infinite access of ready-to-wear clothes so they can constantly refresh their style.

“Sometimes, we spend so much money on clothes only to wear them a few times, or we have so many pieces that we cannot afford new ones.

“Or maybe, we are bored with the ones we have.

“With Zarrel, you can try all the fashionable and designer pieces you’ve been eyeing with no commitment to keeping them.

“You can switch and swap outfits whenever you like for different looks, all for an affordable monthly rental fee,” said Zhong-Ken, adding that they are offering the first infinite closet in Malaysia.

The mechanics are simple: subscribers can select up to nine pieces online which are interchangeable at any point, and the first three pieces will be sent over to you within a few days.

You can wear the outfits as many times as you want.

When you want to refresh your look, just return the apparel and receive a new batch of another three pieces from your selection.

As long as you are a subscriber, the rental duration is up to you.

Should you want to keep the dress, Zarrel allows you to purchase it at a discounted rate, which could be as low as 70% less than the original price.

Zhong-Ken said they do door-to-door delivery as well as pick up and drop off services.

There is not shipping or handling fees, even when subscribers return the outfits.

“We want to assure our subscribers the clothes are always cleaned and handled with care. They don’t even need to clean it before returning,” he explained.

On top of offering endless possibilities of professional and casual wear, Zarrel also wants to build confidence of online shoppers, and provide the convenience.

“In the Malaysian market for e-commerce fashion, about 25% to 50% of items sold online are often returned.

“When you buy online, you’re not able to try the sizes or feel the quality of the apparel.

“So if you are not satisfied, you would want to return the item.

“This is a big cost to fashion retailers and businesses that are going e-commerce,” said Zhong-Ken.

Zarrel aims to change the buying experience for customers – by sending the apparel to them, they can decide to make the purchase later when they are happy with the items, he added.

Additionally, this business model bridges the gap between retailers and customers, reaching out to more people so that they are aware of the latest designs.

This is also where Zarrel managing partner Lee Yvonne comes in with her expertise in fashion, scouring for partnerships with designer brands and labels.

The ex-Miss World Malaysia 2012 and The Amazing Race Asia Season 5 first runner-up ensures the collections offered on the website are of premium quality and design.

“We bring in a wide selection of styles and patterns, from day to night wear, ranging from conservative to contemporary.

“We offer just a few pieces of each design because we do not want our customers to see everyone wearing the same thing,” said Lee.

To date, Zarrel has six brands with four more coming in, and features about 300 items.

The team hopes that they will be able to have 2,000 pieces by the end of the year, with more labels and designer brands – both local and international – coming on board.

Zarrel’s website has been in operation since March, with a steady growing number of subscribers.

There are plans to expand its services to customers across peninsular Malaysia in September.

Subscription fee is currently priced at an introductory rate of RM168 per month until end of this year.

For details, visit www.zarrel.com.my