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Indian weddings are famously epic. At the first one I attended, the altar was set up as a royal throne, friends and family danced Bollywood-style in an opening parade, and the groom rode in on a white horse! (He originally wanted an elephant, but the Marriott wouldn't go for it.)
Oh, and the clothes! So many gorgeous saris. As a non-Indian guest, I couldn't help but feel a little drab in my dress from the mall.
If only something such as Borrow It Bindaas (www.borrowitbindaas.com) existed back then. The Orange-based online boutique offers an array of special-occasion Indian apparel and accessories for rent. It's basically the Netflix of Indian fashion.
The company was started by twin sisters and UC Irvine grads Siddhi and Riddhi Khara after being invited to nine Indian weddings in one year. "We were like, 'It's becoming really pricey to buy all these outfits we're only gonna wear once,'" Siddhi says. "With pictures on Facebook, repeating an outfit is not an option."
A lavish sari, an Indian wardrobe staple, can run $400 or more. And Siddhi notes that many in the States don't have easy access to Indian fashion. "People may not live near a Little India, or the inventory at their local shop may be very outdated," she explains.
So they came up with the idea for Borrow It Bindaas, and launched the site in 2011. In Hindi, the word "bindaas" means hassle-free, which is exactly what the sisters want the rental process to be. Customers select from a variety of saris, lehengas (long skirts) and salwar karmeez (traditional trouser-and-tunic ensembles), all available for a fraction of the retail price. The garments are then shipped to them with a "Bindaas Kit" filled with tutorials, safety pins, bindis and everything else they might need for the soiree. Once they're done, the customer simply ships it all back in a postage-paid envelope, and the company takes care of dry cleaning and tailoring. If they happen to fall in love with the piece, there's an option to purchase it as well.
Borrow It Bindaas was originally created for the South Asian community, but now 70 percent of the clientele is of other ethnic backgrounds. One customer was throwing a Bollywood-inspired theme party for her 40th birthday and needed something to wear. "It's really nice to see people embracing the culture," Siddhi says.
Through the rentals, the 26-year-old entrepreneur wants to give people an experience they normally wouldn't be able to afford. "Think of it as borrowing from your friend's closet," she says.