Riya Collective: First Go-To Rental Platform For Indian Fashion & Wedding Wear Gets Y Combinator Funding
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Based in the United States, Riya Collective is a rental startup offering high-end and luxury Indian clothing on a consignment basis. The company tackles a three-pronged issue: the difficulty of finding trendy and traditional garments outside of India, the high price-tag often assigned to these luxury pieces, and the unsustainable nature inherent in the linear fashion economy. Since its launch last year, the startup has already attracted US$150,000 in funding from the prestigious seed accelerator Y Combinator to scale-up their circular fashion model catered especially to Indian consumers living abroad.
Founded in April 2019 by Sarina Siddhanti and Arian Agrawal from just their living room, Riya Collective is a rental fashion startup catering to Indian women living abroad. Sourcing from high-end designer brands from Indian stores and past customers who are looking to consign their luxury garments, Riya Collective offers customers formal saris, lehengas and anarkalis – outfits typically worn just once or twice at celebratory events – at a competitive hire rate.
In doing so, the company serves a completely untapped market for Indian clothing within North America. With lavish jewellery and numerous designer bridal occasion outfits at the heart of many Indian weddings, India’s wedding industry is valued at an estimated US$50 billion – but much of it remains offline and expensive. Indians living abroad and Indian-Americans in search of luxury traditional Indian outfits, faced with extremely high prices and few choices in North America, often have to rely on long trips back home to find the perfect garment.
But in addition to making it easier and more accessible to find luxury cultural outfits, Riya Collective’s circular model tackles the issue of waste and the intensive resource usage that goes into manufacturing textiles usually worn only once or twice. Every year, around 80,000 Indian weddings hosted in the United States and Canada every year, which calls for an estimated 30 million Indian outfits – a figure that is set to grow as the population continues to increase.
With consumers becoming more aware about the footprint of fashion, from landfilled textile off-cuts and deadstock to the huge amounts of water usage, carbon emissions and pollution involved in the manufacturing of clothing, rental has become a big hit amid the wider explosion of sustainable fashion.
According to a 2019 report by financial services firm Raymond James, we’re set to see 32% of customers seeking to spend a larger share on rental and subscription fashion platforms in the next 5 years. It’s unsurprising that a number of big brands have already hopped onto the trend, including fast fashion behemoth H&M, COS, and Diane von Furstenberg.
It’s clear that by tapping into the Indian consumer base in the United States, Riya Collective has managed to fill a void in the rental market. Since its launch, the company has grown by 50% every single month and has garnered 700 active customers to date.
Most recently, Riya Collective has raised US$150,000 in initial seed funding from Y Combinator, the well-known accelerator that has previously invested in the likes of Airbnb, Stripe and Dropbox. With their latest round of funding, the startup hopes to scale-up their operations and expand to Canada later this year, and eventually target the United Kingdom and Europe as well.
All images courtesy of Riya Collective.