Waste-Free Wardrobes and Revolutionising the Fashion Rental Market: Meet By Rotation Founder Eshita Kabra-Davies
Waste-free and planet positive, fashion rental app By Rotation has created a community of label-savvy, conscious consumers. We chat with founder Eshita Kabra-Davies about borrowing Manolo Blahnik, streamlining your inbox and Mykonos’ most sought-after souvenirs.
19 October, 2020
In the age of Instagram, most of us have been guilty of purchasing new outfits purely for that caught-in-the-moment candid photoshoot or a wear-once-to-a-wedding dress. But times are changing. As we wise up the fact that fast fashion is about as helpful as Rosetta Stone on Emily's first day in Paris and Instagram is just an overly saturated highlight reel, eco-conscious entrepreneurs are leading a fashion revolution. And they're starting with the rise of the fashion rental economy.
Faced with the devastating reality of throwaway fast fashion while on her honeymoon in her motherland of Rajasthan, By Rotation founder Eshita Kabra-Davies knew she had to help fix the amount of textile waste that was generated and transform the way we consume fashion. Pivoting from a career in finance to fashion, in April 2019 By Rotation was born.
Wallet-friendly, waste-free and planet-positive, the app allows you to rent designer fashion at a fraction of the price. In a world where landfills are filled with fast fashion, By Rotation has nurtured an empowering community-led by conscious consumers who are willing to borrow as opposed to buy. Rotators are simultaneously helping reduce the number of garments produced while recouping garment costs. Plus, peer-to-peer lending and little to no logistics means that By Rotation's carbon footprint is kept to a minimum.
Offering a gateway to designer drip, lenders simply set up a profile, snap photos of their wardrobe, set the price and rental periods and share with other rotators. For those who are time-poor but still sustainably conscious, By Rotation offers a retail management service so you don't have to shift through your own stash in order to share your coveted garms. Browse the app and you'll quickly find hard-get-hold-of Birkins, begging-to-be-borrowed Manolo Blahnik numbers and that Burberry trench seen on Gigi Hadid.
Borrowing Blahniks, sought-after souvenirs in Mykonos and how to streamline your inbox: introducing By Rotation's Founder, Eshita Kabra-Davies.
Where are you from and how has that shaped you?
I was born in Rajasthan, India and moved to Singapore at the age of two. I studied in the US and the UK for university and have settled in London - for now! A "third culture kid" through and through, I'm a global citizen who supports diversity, inclusivity and openness. These are the principles I've built By Rotation on.
For the uninitiated, what is the concept behind By Rotation?
By Rotation is the UK's leading fashion rental app. We are a digital community of more than 35,000 Rotators who are renting and lending out our wardrobes - thereby doing good for the planet, your wallet and wardrobe at the same time. Having been referred to as the "Airbnb of fashion", we are transforming the way fashion is consumed by empowering people to share.
What was the motivation behind starting By Rotation?
The idea for By Rotation came with an all-too-common first-world problem when planning my honeymoon to Rajasthan: what to wear. After researching the global fashion rental landscape and discovering the impacts of textile waste in my own hometown, I set out to create a self-sustaining community of fashion lovers who could rotate what they owned with each other. It was important for me from day one to create an inclusive community and to make it all about the regular consumers (as opposed to fashion insiders) - my own experience is in a completely unrelated profession: investment management.
What makes By Rotation different from other fashion-rental apps?
As a purely digital and peer-to-peer fashion rental app, we have created a large and engaged community of users who are expanding the lifecycle of their wardrobes by sharing what they own with each other - therefore consuming less overall product.
As we hold no inventory, we don't get involved in logistics (such as dry-cleaning, delivery, buying stock) or physical stores and therefore have a very low carbon footprint in comparison to retail players.
Our focus on technology and community has proved to be extremely beneficial during this strange time. With our digital marketplace model connecting lenders and renters with each other, our users were highly engaged even throughout lockdown.
What small steps can we make towards having a more mindful wardrobe?
1. Seek out stories
I make it my mission to support smaller, sustainable designers to whom you can speak directly and find out more about how the product you want to buy is made. The story of the design is so important to me, and you value the product a lot more when you get to know the person and the process behind its design.
2. Buy less and buy better
Become more informed about the brands, materials and companies you are purchasing from. Choose to invest in high-quality pieces over trends. Second-hand is also a great way to source sold-out pieces.
3. Share your wardrobe
Sharing my wardrobe with others is something I am very passionate about. I list my items on By Rotation - even my wedding dresses are on there! I love the ever-growing community of like-minded individuals we've built.
4. Streamline your inbox
Unsubscribe from newsletters that push you to consume mindlessly, often from fast fashion retailers. These clog your inbox and push unnecessary consumption.
Tell us what you think the future of fashion looks like…
I sincerely believe that half (if not more) of the fashion industry's polluting problems lies in consumption. As society becomes more educated on the climate crisis, we are also becoming more aware of our consumerist mindset. The future of fashion will therefore be a more considered approach to dressing - that means sharing what you already own with others and demanding better quality of clothing.
Share with us the items from the By Rotation app that you are currently eyeing up?
Manolo Blahnik Hangisi heels in blue
Prada co-ord feather suit in light blue
Olivia Rubin Noa bow-back silk taffeta dress
Whose wardrobe would you love to rent items from?
I love the wardrobes of Fran Drescher in The Nanny and the character Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development - think tweed and skirt suits. I also love the wardrobes of Camille Charriere, Amelia Windsor and Jessie Bush, who are also all fans of By Rotation app!
What are some of your favourite sustainable fashion brands?
Clothing-wise: De Castro's limited, exclusive pieces that are made in India and can be traced back to artisans. For jewellery: Kimai's recycled diamonds. And lingerie: Dora Larsen's pieces made from recycled materials.
How does travel influence your style?
My wardrobe has pieces from local brands and shops from all my holidays - sometimes I end up dressing like I'm on holiday even when I'm in London! I also love to mix and match; you'll see me in batik skirts from Bali in Italy, toting Greek straw basket bags in India and wearing bootcut Parisian jeans in London.
Where in the world is your favourite place to shop?
I love researching local brands and artisans prior to travelling to a new destination. I really enjoyed Mykonos for shopping. It was a pleasure to meet so many talented artisans, one store after another. I especially love the independent store Amnesia - it has no website and keeps an air of mystery… perhaps that's what I love about it.
What about for vintage finds?
As a tech entrepreneur, I'm a huge fan of Depop, Etsy and Vinterior. I also love Sunbury & Sandown Antiques Market at Kempton Park Racecourse. Most of By Rotation's studio has come together thanks to the market - everything is secondhand or upcycled.
The best souvenir you've ever brought home…
A delicate gold charm necklace with the evil eye from Mykonos that I wear daily between my collar bones. When the store owner found out it was my birthday the same day, he began serenading me in Greek. It was all too cute!
Finally, what's in your SUITCASE?
My laptop, because I'm constantly monitoring our platform and KPIs, a Murakami novel to balance the non-fiction I read, a notebook containing all the spots I want to explore on the trip, Jacquemus's Le Chiquito bag (despite its nano size, it screams holiday), Castañer espadrilles and a mix of jewellery and make-up as I know I will actually have the time to put in effort to my look for a change.