Zug, 07.06.2021

Renting suits instead of buying them

The Corona easings now allow for larger celebrations such as weddings, and men's suits are therefore in demand again. This is good for the business of the Zug start-up Adretto.

Men who invited to weddings or other festivities often ponder on how much to spend on the suit. Suits aren‘t cheap, and are usually only worn two or three times. And then there is the nerve-wracking fitting in the store – not everyone's cup of tea. So how can you easily find a suitable outfit that is affordable and also fits like a glove?

The Zug start-up Adretto wants to offer the perfect solution here: an online rental service for suits. Suit seekers can now go to the adretto.ch site and select their outfit there in a few steps – in addition to the suit there are also shoes or accessories – and place their order. After the event, they return everything, with the costs for the return shipping and cleaning being covered by Adretto.

Up and down in the first year
The founders of Adretto, Lorenz Pöhlmann and Ibrahim Can, went live with this business model in January 2020 – shortly before the outbreak of the corona crisis. The subsequent up and downs of lockdowns and temporary easing reflect the story of this still young company quite well.

Things went like clockwork at first, but then the first lockdown came in March 2020: most weddings and gala dinners were cancelled. Accordingly, business was mixed from April to June 2020, but came back into life again over the summer. There was a green light for events, and people desperately needed suits. But they didn't have time to buy any, because the celebrations were often scheduled at short notice, and the shops were also closed. Adretto offered the ideal way out.

Restrictions returned again In the autumn  with Christmas parties being cancelled as a result. "Every provision by the Federal Council was reflected in the number of visitors to our website," says co-founder Lorenz Pöhlmann, looking back on the "nevertheless successful" first year. A stand-out event was that Adretto was among the six finalists of the Central Swiss start-up award "Zünder" in the autumn of 2020. Things are rapidly improving again at the moment, with orders and inquiries increasing massively from March onwards.

"The gradual relaxations in the events area are helping us enormously."

The Adretto founders Ibrahim Can (left) and Lorenz Pöhlmann in their showroom in Zug.
Picture: Pius Amrein (4 June 2021)

More sustainable and cheaper
Among the top sellers is the Roger #1 outfit: jacket, trousers and waistcoat are anthracite, plus a white cotton shirt, a Bordeaux and white polka dot bow tie made from pure silk, a Bordeaux-coloured silk breast-pocket handkerchief, a black leather belt and black leather shoes. Roger #3 is also very popular with renters. Here, the suit is blue, plus cognac-coloured leather shoes.

Lorenz Pöhlmann believes that the Adretto model has a number of advantages. For one, it is cheaper to rent festive clothes rather than buying them. The complete outfit with suit, vest, shirt, belt, shoes, pocket handkerchief and bow tie costs just over CHF 200 per rental, including shipping and cleaning. A purchase, on the other hand, would quickly amount to CHF 1,500. He thereby sees the sustainability factor as a further advantage.

"Cleaning and shipping also consume resources, of course. But this is out of all proportion to the consumption of resources in textile production. Especially if the suit only hangs in the wardrobe after a single use."

The Adretto suits could be reused up to 20 times, so the environmental impact is much lower than for purchased goods. This makes Adretto a good fit for the times, believes Lorenz Pöhlmann. Concepts such as "End of Ownership" are currently in vogue. "Today's man prefers to use things rather than own them. He wants to do his part to ensure that we deal more sustainably with limited resources."

Algorithm ensures the right size
This should be made as easy as possible for him. The service therefore focuses on simplicity. "Customers doesn't have to worry about hardly anything, and can rent a complete outfit online within two minutes." They don't even have to know their suit size. The fact that everything still fits is ensured by a specially-developed algorithm. Customers provide some information on the website about height, age, weight, wearing habits and body shape. The algorithm then compares this with thousands of data points in the database and determines the correct suit size. Lorenz Pöhlmann adds:

"The accuracy is currently more than 80% – and the algorithm gets better with every order."

If the delivered suit doesn’t fit quite right somewhere, Adretto will send an alternative size free of charge. If the second suit doesn’t fit as desired, customers can have it adapted by the local tailor at Adretto’s expense. Fittings in the show room in Zug are also possible.

Despite the increase in business, Adretto is not yet profitable. This will remain the case for another year or two, believes Pöhlmann. But he is convinced that “we will definitely make profits in the medium term". And there are two main reasons for this. Firstly, you can achieve a three-times higher turnover per outfit than if you were to sell it. Secondly, as soon as the current situation has calmed down and events are allowed to take place again without restrictions, demand will increase "many times over".

"We are already feeling the customer potential."
Future financing is also on the way: The first round of financing is currently running, and contracts with well-known investors are to be concluded in the coming weeks. In addition, it is planned to automate the processes this year and strengthen the brand, and to enlarge the two-man team. "We will obtain reinforcement in the areas of content, social media marketing and customer service." The next step will follow next year: expansion into the much larger German market. There are currently local providers for the rental of tuxedos – but no provider with the business model of Adretto.