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My Need to Talk About Renting a Christopher Esber Dress from a Stranger

Introducing My Need to Talk About, a series of (non-sponsored) musings from CSJ founder Alexa Tietjen.

Illustration by Tim Le

Recently, I was scrambling over what to wear to a wedding party. The dress code was black tie and with my closet forever lacking in great gowns, beautiful gowns, I began my mobile search. 

Buying a gown was not in-budget for me, as I’d imagine it’s not for most people, though I’ll admit my taste often exceeds my budget. I once met a woman who, instead of renting, buys secondhand items from The RealReal to wear once or twice before eventually consigning them back. Closet-hacking legend, she is, but that’s, like, four steps too many for me.

Rental seemed like a more feasible option, but where does one rent gowns these days? Rent the Runway often feels like a last resort. Armarium used to be the dealer of luxury eveningwear rentals until it closed shop permanently during the pandemic. Clients spanned influencers, society women and the fashion set, including June Ambrose, who is both chic and good at dancing, which in my mind is an unbeatable combination.

A fashion girlie suggested I download Pickle, a peer-to-peer rental app that is apparently popular on TikTok, though I am not on TikTok and would not have known this. The app officially launched in May 2022 and earlier this month, it expanded offline via a West Village storefront. The store is merchandised with contemporary to luxury designer items from the closets of “influencers” such as Kit Keenan and Lauren Wolfe. New merchandise based on what’s trending in-app will land as often as weekly, said Julia O’Mara, co-founder, Pickle.

“We’re going to bring in rotating closets,” O'Mara said from Pickle’s storefront. “We have tons of owners in our community who are excited to have their stuff featured here.”

Christopher Esber dress on Pickle
A screenshot of the Christopher Esber dress I rented from a stranger.

During my quest for a black tie gown, I found Pickle’s in-app search and curation capabilities easy to use. I clicked on a black tie curation; filtered by size and price; and scrolled briefly before landing on a black Christoper Esber Molded Venus dress. The photo gallery showed influencer types posing for pictures and selfies in the dress. The design was subtle and elegant with a hint of nip slip potential, just like a Grecian goddess. This was not a dress I’d commit to buying, this was a dress I’d rent. The app lets you negotiate on price and length of rental. I made an offer for a four-day rental at the asking price, and my offer was accepted.

I paid slightly extra for the courier service, though if you’re local, you can opt for a free, in-person handoff. Shipping is also an option for out-of-staters. The dress was delivered via Uber the day before the wedding party. I felt special wearing it and received several compliments. When it came time to send it back, an Uber driver came to pick it up, and off it went back to its rightful owner.

I looked around on the app this week, and curations such as "Capricorn Bday," "Warm Vacay and "New Years" were served to me. I like the idea of stopping in the store and casually renting something on the spot to wear later that evening. You can also view what’s available in the Pickle store via the app.

Pickle raised $8 million in seed funding earlier this year and is in expansion mode. Brian McMahon, co-founder, Pickle, said that while the app is live nationwide, the company plans to further embed itself in New York City, followed by Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago. 

“When we think about launching in cities, that means we’re focusing on building high-quality supply in those areas,” McMahon said. “When you build local supply density, and then have the ultra-convenient delivery methods that we're all used to, it really feels like a true extension of your closet. Instead of walking to your closet to pick out something, you just walk to your front door.”

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2 comentarios

28 dic 2023

Pickle is genius! Excellent write-up!

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28 dic 2023

Excellent way to wear something chic for those special events without breaking the bank! Nice outfit!

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