Online shoppers are probably familiar with the frustration of realising, only upon delivery, that the piece of clothing one has purchased is the wrong size or a different colour from what was viewed on the e-commerce site. “I love online shopping but I have been disappointed maybe eight out of nine times because of sizing or colour. You might think you are buying a piece of clothing in gold but receive a yellow one instead,” says Yvonne Lee, the co-founder of infinite fashion closed subscription provider, Zarrel.
In a bid to spare shoppers this disappointment, Zarrel offers a wide range of clothing on loan, subject to a fixed monthly subscription of RM168. All it takes is to sign up is browse through the collections and add items to your virtual closet. A standard sized box containing three pieces of clothing will be delivered to your doorstep. Once you have worn them, simply arrange for pickup and wait for the next box to arrive. Customers have the option of purchasing any of the clothes they have tried, removing the element of uncertainty attached to buying online. “This way ,you know that you have picked the right one for you. You get to not only touch and feel but also wear the clothes before you opt to purchase,” Lee says.
Zarrel may just be the solution for indecisive shoppers as well since subscribers can try various brands, cuts and colours. “We also want people to try different styles. When shopping online, consumers may tend to stick with safe choices,” she adds.
What is even better is that there is no limit to the number of boxes a subscriber can receive each month — the next box of three will be dispatched as soon as the earlier one is returned. “The only limit is three pieces of clothing per box, so how many you get to try in a month really just depends on how fast you can wear them and return each box,” says co-founder Ong Zhong-Ken, who also tells us that the average customer receives three or four boxes a month. Each parcel bears the brand’s promise of quality in the form of a tamper-proof sticker affixed to the box.
Other benefits include delivery, pickup and cleaning services, which are provided at no cost to the subscriber. The clothing comes ready-to-wear in every sense of the word as it arrives cleaned and pressed. Those who are worried about the clothes having been worn before can rest assured that each piece of clothing is thoroughly cleaned after it is returned. “It can be cleaner than clothes bought off the rack, which other people have usually tried on before!” says Ong.
This concept of infinite closet subscription, the founders tell us, is the first in Malaysia. “The idea came when our business partner [Ong] Sue Jinn was in Bangkok for a work trip. She visited Platinum Mall and saw that a lot of clothing was being sold at very affordable prices. That’s when the inspiration came to me. I thought ‘Why don’t I take a chunk of money, buy thousands of pieces and let women subscribe for the clothing from me?’,” explains the 27-year-old Ong, who was educated and trained as an engineer.
“We reached out to multiple retailers who believed in us and were willing to come on board. We started off small to learn about our prospective customers and the challenges we would face,” says Ong, who believes that proper execution is the key to success for any good idea. Having started off with four retailers, the duo are proud to announce that they have 22 retailers on board at the moment. The target is to get to 40 by the brand’s first anniversary.
Lee, 29, says that Zarrel has been very well received since the commencement of business in May last year. Lee, who was crowned Miss Malaysia World in 2012 andno stranger to the ever-evolving trends in the fashion world, is the perfect fit for the brand.
“People find this deal (RM168 per month) almost too good to be true. You can’t get this price anywhere else,” Lee says. “In a nutshell, we are trying to introduce an alternative to online shopping. When it comes to e-commerce, you have to pay before you receive the clothes but with Zarrel’s unique business concept, for a monthly fee, you get clothes sent to you and you get to try them before purchasing,” says Lee, who was initially approached by the other co-founder to promote Zarrel as an influencer.
And if the idea of a continuous supply of new clothes is not enticing enough, Zarrel also aims to combat impulse purchases, which is the result of the rapidly growing phenomenon of fast fashion. Seeing that textile waste is produced in the tonnes yearly, we could all certainly benefit from putting more thought before making that next clothing purchase. But the ultimate cherry on the cake, without a doubt, is virtually endless fashion choices for every occasion.
This article first appeared on Jan 22, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.