PSFK interviews Zachary Podbela, the founder of The Rotation, to discuss the future of streetwear retail and the on-demand potential of subscription e-rental

In Brief:

  • Streetwear subscription rental service The Rotation is filling a gap in men's fashion and shifting the way clothing is consumed with an experiential platform.
  • Zachary Podbela, the brand's co-founder and CEO, hopes that his platform could help launch up-and-coming streetwear brands, as well as make on-demand service a reality for the category.
  • PSFK sat down with Podbela to talk streetwear retail pain points and potential, as well as why consumers could rent almost all of their clothing on a weekly basis in the future.

PSFK: What is the story behind the creation of The Rotation? What unmet consumer needs or pain points did you notice?

Zachary Podbela: For modern men, the two biggest pain points in buying and wearing streetwear are fear of buyer's remorse and the need for extensive knowledge and research, like following drops and brand collaborations. We solve these problems by providing a frictionless, streamlined way to wear the latest in streetwear for one low monthly price.

When you look at existing solutions in the market—Stitch Fix, Trunk Club, etc.—they are doing a lot to solve the lack of male consumer education by providing a personal stylist to select items for you. More often than not though, when users receive their box, they are faced with much the same fear of buyer's remorse and purchase paralysis hurdles that they do in retail stores.

Barron Roth/The Rotation

What kinds of merchandise and brands do you feature? 

Our curation uncompromisingly centers around items we think consumers will love, often meaning venturing outside the bounds of the standard designer supply chain to source inventory. Our last drop featured tour merch from Travis Scott's Netflix movie. As we grow, we also want our platform to be a place where up-and-coming brands can get their start. It doesn't matter if you are just screen printing t-shirts out of your garage, streetwear has always been about awesome creators making dope stuff.

What are some of the challenges you've come across in founding The Rotation?

Bringing the old guard of fashion along the innovation change curve has been a fun challenge. The fashion industry isn't exactly known for embracing new ideas, but we've put a lot of time and effort into showing them that rental can actually be a huge growth driver for their businesses.

More and more, digitally native millennials and high spenders are turning toward experiential and influence platforms to discover quality content, recommendations, and new brands. The Rotation offers a unique channel for getting clothing onto customers' bodies, jumpstarting new customer relationships and allow existing customers to experiment more deeply with your brand.

Mark Adriane/Unsplash

Why focus on rental?

Rental gives customers an exceedingly diverse closet for a fraction of the price it would cost to own. Why go through all the research and stress associated with buying a thing when all you really want to do is use it? Rental allows consumers to cut straight to wearing items with one click.

How do sustainability and transparency fit into The Rotation's goals?

The Rotation allows us to squeeze the full value out of each item by spreading it across a larger audience. When our pieces are finally retired, they are worn 10 times more than the average garment, displacing tons of new manufacturing. From the re-useable garment bags we ship in to our dry-cleaning processes, our top priority is to make our business environmentally friendly and to have an impact on the environmental consciousness of the fashion industry at large.

How do you see the apparel space evolving, and how will The Rotation fit in?

In a decade, everything beyond the basic jeans and tees will come from your shared closet. People won't own clothing, they'll only find their favorite items online, wear it for a month, then get tired of it, and send it back. Looking fashionable and feeling your best will be as easy as ordering an Uber. As personalization technology catches up, it may be even easier, with entire weekly outfits just arriving without the need for you to choose anything.

That being said, I strongly believe brick and mortar storefronts won't die; they'll only evolve. Nobody is solving for men right now, and The Rotation will fill that void. Streetwear will always be at the center of our company and culture, but we have higher ambitions for expanding into the other areas of male fashion.

Barron Roth/The Rotation

The Rotation


Lead image: Barron Roth/The Rotation