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Visiting Armoire feels like your best friend 'the fashionista' gave you the keys to her closet! It's a treasure trove of stylish blouses - dresses, jeans, jackets - even shoes.
"Basically, you play dress up, everyday you have something new and fresh," noted customer Andrea Marks. She makes it a point to pop by often. "I work a block from here, and it’s the most convenient thing for me!"
But this is not a basic boutique. The focus here isn't on buying - it's on borrowing.
"You can rent things for as long as you want, you can think of it as a library, you just walk in here and switch things out, literally whenever you want!" said Ambika Singh, Armoire's founder and CEO. "If you love a dress and want to keep it for a few weeks, go for it! If you wear a cool jacket like this and you are done with it after a day, bring it back to us and somebody else will enjoy it."
High tech meets high-touch at Armoire. For Singh, the idea for this clothing company started in an unlikely place.
"I was a grad student at MIT and I was really curious about what we could do to kind of fix the retail industry," she said. "Particularly from the lens of overproduction."
The fashion industry has a big impact on the environment.
"Apparel is actually the second most polluting industry in the world," said Singh. "About thirty percent of apparel that is produced never even gets sold, goes straight to a landfill."
She came up with a stylish solution, making it possible for people to rent and have the opportunity to buy clothes - in a way that was tailor-made for them.
"A new customer would give us a little information about herself, either in our store or digitally," she said. "Then we will use a combination of our amazing stylists and algorithms that were developed at MIT to try and make a recommendation to you about 50 to 100 items that you can pick from."
For a flat fee - you rent at least 4 items a month. But here's amazing thing. As soon as you return something - you get another item in it's place.
"Which to me, is one of the most beautiful parts," she said. "When you are done loving something, somebody else can love it instead of your closet, sort of swallowing it up and you never seeing it again."
In-store stylists like Lili Morton are there to help. It's something that sets them apart from other clothing rental places where you never get to meet your stylist face to face.
"I like to think of this as more collaborative," she explained. "So we work together to find what you truly love with my guidance and advice and just really be in your style confidant."
Customers can pick the items up, or a case can be mailed from Armoire's warehouse in Seattle for free. The clothes arrive in mint condition, adorned with a tiny origami dress - handmade by Singh and her team during their 'no screens allowed' meetings.
"So we hope that that’s another burst of joy for you when you open the package," she smiled.
For Singh - fashion isn't about following fads.
"The thing that we are really focused on is making woman feel great. Fashion to us is what is the armor that you are going to put on that going to make you feel your best self."
When the garments are determined to be in less that perfect condition they are donated to Dress for Success, Mary's Place or other local charities. Armoire is online, and has two brick and mortar stores in Pioneer Square and Kirkland.