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Vogue Business Announces Riya Collective in Y Combinator W20 batch

Vogue shared our announcement today that Riya Collective has closed our first round of financing and is part of the Y Combinator Winter 2020 batch. 

As co-founders of an early stage company, we often say that we only have two resources at our disposal: time and money. The only way to win is to use them both with ruthless efficiency. This fundraise takes us one big step further on that journey.

Riya Collective serves the completely untapped (and huge) Indian clothing rental market

Riya Collective is a clothing rental service, starting with formal Indian clothing in the US. We believe that sharing culture is one of life’s greatest joys and we exist to make that experience accessible, fun, and sustainable.

We estimate that there are about 80,000 Indian weddings happening in the US and Canada each year, and 30 million Indian outfits worn to these weddings. With the Indian population in these two countries doubling every decade since 1980, the number of Indian weddings will grow rapidly, as well as the demand for this clothing — and no large-scale platform exists to rent this clothing.  

These formal outfits are inaccessible, expensive, and worn only once or twice. Riya Collective solves these three problems.

Our customers are diverse and we are building a product that caters to and celebrates that individuality

We promise to bring our customers the trendiest and widest selection of Indian fashion to their doorstep; the clothing will be in mint condition, on time, and fit perfectly. To do that, we are building (1) an expert sourcing team in India with deep knowledge Indian designers, (2) a supply chain to bring these clothes to the US, (3) a tech-driven system to find the perfect fit, and (4) an elegant, high-end online experience that earns our customer’s trust.

We are committed to having clothing for everyone — every body type and gender, because to truly celebrate culture we must be inclusive. And we don’t want anyone to have to buy something (the average lehenga is $600!) that they will only wear once. Above and beyond that, we cater to our customer’s individual needs.

  1. The non-Indian customer: These customers receive an invitation to 3 Indian events for their friend’s wedding. It’s exciting, but also overwhelming. They want to be dressed in the right attire for the right events, but also not feel that they are appropriating Indian culture. Our personal stylists will walk these customers through which garments to wear to which events. They’ll even show them how to wear each garment. (What shoes do the boys wear? What colors should we avoid during the wedding ceremony?). With Riya Collection, they can walk into the wedding feeling comfortable, confident, and knowledgeable.
  2. The customer of Indian descent: These customers have a few Indian outfits (or many) in the back of their closet. When it comes time to wear them, they take them out reluctantly because they are hyper-aware that those clothes they bought in India 4 years ago are not the latest styles. They are left wondering...where the heck do people get all the gorgeous outfits they are seeing all over Instagram?

Our sourcing team works hard to find the trendiest, up-and-coming designers all over India so our customers don’t have to. We bring it to this customer’s fingertips so they don’t have to fly to India to get their Indian clothing. Our goal is to make sure they walk into the wedding feel proud of their cultural clothing and excited to wear it again.

For brides of an Indian wedding wondering how their guests will find Indian outfits to wear, we’ve been there. We know they have enough to worry about for their big day without getting last minute questions from guests. We work with brides to serve as their concierge service to outfit all of their guests at a discount.

What’s next for Riya Collective

We have big aspirations and we are so thankful to have YC as a partner. This year, we will rapidly grow our inventory and operations in the US. By the end of the year, we plan to expand to Canada. And we will integrate some of the most cutting-edge sizing technology into our online experience.

We believe that given the current state of the Earth, sustainability is not an option, it’s table stakes. Renting clothing helps; however, that alone is not enough to call ourselves a sustainable business. In 2020, we will commit to meeting a publicized set of standards in our supply chain, as well as our dry cleaning and shipping processes.

And on a personal note

Combined, Arian and I (the co-founders of Riya Collective) have almost two decades of experience at high-tech Silicon Valley companies. Our goal with Riya Collective is to build the first world-class technology company based on sharing diverse cultures. And ultimately for us, Riya Collective is so much more than a company. It’s a movement to celebrate and share our culture, one that we are so proud of, across the world.

We are proud to showcase the artisans of India on our platform; we are proud to employ a team made up of all minority women; and we are proud to be changing the perception of ethnic clothing from a burden to an opportunity. Riya Collective allows us to break down the borders between identities and geographies and explore our own culture and other’s. An authentic, global platform for an authentic, global generation.

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