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Mobile alterations service Alternew partners with Reiss on in-store pilot program

By Jackie Mallon


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Fashion |Interview


Alternew, the mobile alterations company founded by Nancy Rhodes in 2020, has partnered with Reiss in what Rhodes describes as “a very successful and insightful pilot to help Reiss build out their brand through alterations.” It is an an 8-week program that will continue through the end of the year. FashionUnited caught up with Rhodes after Alternew had completed their second in-store training session with the associates and executives at Reiss’s downtown Manhattan store.

“Our goal is to promote the repair economy to the masses,” says Rhodes. Reiss, with its assortment of core basics, unique structured items and occasionwear, is all about attainable luxury which aligns perfectly with what Rhodes believes clothing alterations represent.

A former shoe designer of 17 years, Rhodes observes wryly that there is a landfill somewhere with her name on it. However it is this awareness that became the catalyst for her to want to be part of what she describes as the refashion industry. “We take what already exists and make it new," she says. “We need a supply chain for garments that are already in existence. Our north star is providing a post-consumer purchase hub for all things fashion repair.”

Alternew recently worked with the Manhattan Vintage Show where tailoring adds to the value of vintage investments. She is currently taking meetings with representatives of like-minded brands to offer the pilot program to brick and mortar locations across the retail landscape. For retail partners it is a way to re-engage with customers who had stopped coming into the store during the pandemic while also connecting with new customers and engaging those casually browsing the racks whose interest might be pricked or who might have questions about the service.

Accessible luxury and the rise of the repair economy

When consumers buy a house, major appliance, or car and something goes wrong with it, the buyer either has insurance or can choose from a field of experts to call who essentially run diagnostics and make the item whole again. The fashion industry never operated that way, and Alternew is about changing that.

“The industry is elite, exclusive and opaque, and what we’re trying to do is provide a fresh, modern, whimsical approach to alteration,” says Rhodes. “It is a co-creation and even someone just getting their pants hemmed means the garment goes from inaccessible to something loved."

While Rhodes enjoys the immediate gratification of seeing a customer’s face after they’ve tried on the altered garment her mission is also about reinvigorating a declining industry and occupying an underserved apace. Skilled craftspeople such as tailors took a hit during the pandemic. It seems the customer is ready to return for these one-to-one services but why, we ask, does Rhodes think consumers will choose Alternew over the tailor at their local dry cleaners?

“Currently there are master tailors and the dry cleaners and nothing in-between. But most people feel very uncomfortable getting their clothes tailored at the dry cleaners,” says Rhodes. “You’re with five other people dropping off clothes, you’re behind a torn curtain, feeling awkward, the person attending to you has to break off to get someone’s laundry... You don’t even have any review or understanding of the job they are going to do.” She has even been called by consumers to fix a dry cleaner repair job and describes the Alternew service as the polar opposite in consumer experiences: "We come to your home, you can change your undergarments, footwear, for every item you’re fitting, and you get up to an hour with the tailor.”

The fee of 79 dollars pays for the expertise of the fitting. Rhodes believes in transparency, that all clothing can have a bespoke fit, and that all consumers deserve an experience of luxury that doesn’t come at a cost to the planet or drain the bank account. 

The pilot demonstrates that the service could benefit most retail environments. Customers receive an email that a tailor will be in-store on specific days and they can have their items tailored while shopping the new fall range. It’s as simple and sustainable as that. “The goal for us is to help Reiss succeed thorough long term relations with their clients," says Rhodes. "We’re almost providing them with unique engagement opportunities.”

And for the fashion industry, it's a chance to mend its ways.

repair economy