After starting a career in finance, Shika Bodani launched Front Row London in 2016- an online rental platform for Haute Couture. Shika has been able to pivot in an exemplary way through Covid-19. We wanted to highlight her success and leadership and caught up with her to shed some light on who the founder of Front Row is:
- What did you do before starting Front Row?
I studied Computer Science and Management at King’s College London and then went on to study Finance at New York University.
After graduating, I spent one year working as a financial analyst at a boutique asset management firm. I decided to leave the banking world to pursue my dream of starting my own business, Front Row, a luxury rental service, specialised in renting out designer clothing, accessories and handbags in the UK.
- How did you find it being a woman in the finance world?
The finance world is heavily male dominated, it is a big-boys club and although my time working in the finance industry was brief, I saw examples of women breaking the glass ceiling, my boss was a great embodiment of this. I decided to make a career change in the hopes of making my own contribution within the fashion industry.
- What inspired you to start Front Row?
My aim was to revolutionise the luxury retail industry, making it more accessible to a wider audience by providing a lifestyle service that eliminates the age-old question “Will I ever wear this again?” With Front Row, you don’t have to.
- Have you always been passionate about sustainability?What sparked your interest?
I have always been passionate about fashion which allowed me to see first hand how unsustainable the industry is. Whilst living in New York, I cam across Rent the Runway and it highlighted that it is possible to keep up to date with fashion trends in a more sustainable way and I knew I wanted to bring the concept to the UK.
- Are there any myths you would like to dispel in the rented fashion industry?
The fashion rental industry is often compared and put in the same category as the pre-loved and second-hand industry. However, we aim to offer experiences in fashion rather than ownership. Our aim is to educate consumers on the benefits of renting clothes as opposed to purchasing first or second hand. At Front Row, we strive to provide the customer with a luxury end-to-end experience from customer service to luxury packaging. We want our customers to have the same aspirational experience that they would get if they walked into a designer store, ultimately giving them a “one-night stand” with the fashion brand of their choice. I feel like we have to work together as an industry to educate consumers on the benefits of renting.
- What are you currently working on?
We have a few exciting things in store for the holiday season including our #DressUpToStayIn challenge, which encourages people to dress up whilst staying safe in the comfort of their homes.
- What is the best way of celebrating Christmas more sustainably?
This year sustainability has been at the forefront of the headlines and has given rise to the conscious consumer, and with social media being so prevalent, there is a lot of pressure on the everyday woman to be seen in the latest branded clothing and never repeat an outfit. I would encourage people to rent wherever possible, and we have just launched our virtual gift cards which would the perfect present to make it a green Christmas.
- What are the most popular items on your website?
And what is your favourite item?Our occasion wear is our most popular, however as we navigated through this uncertain year we saw an interesting shift in demand towards our more casual daywear pieces. I have too many favourites to just pick one, but if I had to it would be Saint Laurent’s Fox Fur Heart Cape, it is such a memorable, statement piece and is perfect to rent for an occasion.
- What will you be wearing this Christmas?
There are too many choices to choose from, but I think you will find me wearing Giambattista Valli’s Asymmetric Tulle Dress, the perfect Christmas dress.
- What are your plans for Front Row in 2021?
We are hoping to launch a number of subscription services, so watch this space!
- Other than the Haute Couture brands available on Front Row, what sets you apart from other rental platforms?
We have extended our service to include designer pieces from over 20 international designer brands including Sabyasachi, Manish Malhotra and Faraz Manan. From designer jewellery to lehengas and anarkali’s, Front Row is the only UK based luxury-on-loan platform to offer ethnic-wear.
Thank you to Shika for having taken the time to chat with us.
To find out more and to rent your perfect Christmas outfit, visit www.frontrow.uk.com