’Tis the season for holiday gatherings, eating out and New Year’s Eve celebrations — occasions that often entail looking sharp, or at least attempting to do so by dressing up.
And while the outfit chosen is generally speaking the main event, accessories can often make or break an outfit, at least if the word of various fashion icons and Instagram influencers is to be believed. But of course accessorizing can be a challenging and expensive exercise for fashion-conscious consumers. The “real stuff” — jewelry made of metal like gold or platinum with real precious gems embedded is generally beyond the collecting range of the average consumer due to cost, past one or two treasured pieces. Nice costume jewelry, on the other hand, can be had more easily, but can quickly turn into clutter that sits forgotten and under-appreciated in a jewelry box.
And as of the year 2019, Switch Co-Founder and President Liana Kadisha noted in an interview, clutter is not cool. In the year that Marie Kondo made the notion of cleaning a closet with an idea of what “sparks joy” in mind a national obsession, consumers are looking to streamline their consumptive lives and make them simpler. Which, Kadisha noted, was the inspiration for the jewelry-sharing platform that Switch was launched to be last year. Designer items shipped to customers — a la Rent the Runway — have been a big success, she said, because consumers are switching from an “ownership” model to a “use” model where they don’t necessarily need or even want to have certain types of items on hand, but instead can gain access to them whenever they want to use them.
Jewelry, she said, is in some ways an even better candidate for this kind of rental experience than designer apparel, just by the nature of what it is and how it is designed.
“It is easier to ship due to its smaller size, its built to be durable and last, it’s easier to care for and doesn’t require environmentally costly dry cleaning. Our idea is instead of letting these things go to waste in a closet, consumers can share with the entire community,” Kadisha said.
As for what types of items are available on the site, the products vary widely, she said. Switch carries both “real” and costume jewelry, in designer names most people will recognize (Chanel, Hermes, etc.) as well as up-and-coming designer not quite as familiar (Arme De L’Amour and Delfina Delettrez are both reportedly popular). Depending on membership level, prices start at $29 a month and run to $69, and members can choose one, two or three pieces at a time — which will be shipped to their door. When they are done, they can then be slipped into the return packaging and sent back to Switch. Once the returns are received, customers can then pick their next piece of jewelry on the sharing platform.
The prices of the pieces vary, according to Kadisha, but tend ot average around $600 apiece — and can range as high as $2,500.
Customers also have the option to purchase jewelry they really love, generally at a discounted price further lowered by the fact that for every month a customer is a member they get a $10 credit toward purchasing a piece of jewelry.
The platform is popular with users thus far, though according to Kadisha, the goal for 2020 will be further getting the Switch name out there and expanding the business itself. She casually noted the brand is looking into what further vertical is can push into going forward, though she didn’t have much in the way of specifics on that topic.
She also noted the firm is currently in the piloting phase of a trade-in program that will make it easier for both members and the general public to sell jewelry directly to the platform. The goal, she said, is to make that process seamless and easy enough that a customer with a piece or two they are looking to sell can easily list their merchandise, get a price and be paid out in cash, site credit or even membership credit for those who want to use their trade-in as an entry point to the service.
And while they are in the test run of that now, the goal is to have it up and “in full swing” by 2020 so they are best able to expand and get the word out about the win-win for jewelry enthusiasts that Switch is working hard to build.