Everyone has a closet that they wish they could raid. I-Ella, an invite-only New York City based startup recently named one of Time’s 10 NYC Startups to Watch, offers fashionistas the chance to do just that. I-Ella lets users buy, sell, swap, borrow or lend frocks of their choice, and enables them to feel socially conscious while doing so, as 10 percent of every sale goes to a charity or social venture of your choosing. There is no fee to join, and unlike eBay, no fee to list a posting. Furthermore, unlike Rent The Runway, I-Ella offers users the option to buy, functioning somewhat like a virtual discount designer boutique.
While I-Ella’s business model is unique in that it makes being socially conscious an intrinsic part of being fashion-forward, it faces a great deal of competition from the litany of other online designer shopping portals. Ultimately, I-Ella’s success hinges on whether or not users are comfortable borrowing clothes from complete strangers.