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Courtesy of E.T.WIGS

This Rent-A-Wig service is making high-quality wigs accessible to everyone

E.T.WIGS’s new service is bringing the sustainable fashion rental model to the world of wigs and making them more affordable for everyday wear

Over the last few years, the concept of fashion rental services has picked up steam, with companies like LOANHOOD and Rotaro allowing people to borrow and wear pieces they might not be able to afford otherwise. Until now, however, the services have only catered to clothing and accessories – and sometimes, a full look requires hair as well. That’s where E.T.WIGS’s new rental service RENT-A-WIG comes in.

RENT-A-WIG launched this week, but the full story begins during the pandemic. It was then that Watford-based Cameroonian Endah Tche created E.T.WIGS, a business to revamp and customise wigs – with a focus on experimental colours – for everyday girls like her. While at university, the now 22-year-old noticed that many of the girls around her didn’t know how to wear wigs properly and, as she says, “I don’t like when people don’t look as good as I know they can look”. In an effort to change this, she decided to start offering wig customisation services. “I wanted to be the person that girls, who look like me, can come to to customise their wigs so they can feel good.” 

After learning everything she could about wigs, Tche expanded the business to sell original creations which led to editorial opportunities, and she soon started assisting on sets. It was there she noticed wigs weren’t prominent and hair stylists were never given the same number of options as clothing stylists — usually because of the price tag on high-quality wigs. Price had been a barrier for her clients outside of the fashion industry, too. “A lot of low-quality wigs are being put on people and it’s quite obvious,” she says, blaming synthetic’s plasticky feeling and look. In the hope of making the finest hair more accessible and affordable to both the industry and everyday clients, E.T.WIGS has started a renting service.

Rent-A-Wig launches with four virgin hair wigs — two bright bobs and two 3C curls with dipped ends — but Tche plans to add more regularly. They can be borrowed for between two to 14 days, starting at £15 a day, with bigger savings the longer you rent. Her target audience is everyone. “I wanted to do something with an impact on more people. Right now, it’s quite small-scale in my eyes,” she says. “I’ve been trying to find a way to get back to the everyday girl, boy or whoever. When I started doing hair for drag queens, I realised I needed to stop limiting myself. At first, I was, like, Black women, Black women. But who am I to say who will like a wig? You never know who will be interested, so why not make it accessible?” 

Dazed spoke to Tche about the origins of her business, the current state of editorial hair, and how to democratise beauty.

When did you realise you wanted to be a hair artist?

Endah Tche: I was looking at all the wigs I had in my room, some of them are so janky and I just thought there has to be more than this. I didn’t have any coloured wigs; they were all bland and basic. I didn’t even know where I’d go in the UK to find something more than this. My thing is always trying to be the person who can help someone or connect them to something that they don’t know or haven’t seen before. Often, when people come to me for a custom wig, they’re like, ‘I’ve never worn this colour before’ or ‘oh, but my skin tone, I don’t know if, as a Black girl, if I can wear orange or blue.’ I always have to tell them just trust me because it’s literally all in your head. But the thing is, you need to have someone who knows how to execute what you’re asking for otherwise it will not look good. That’s not you, that’s the product. 

I went on YouTube and learned how to sew in my bedroom. It was June and August, in horrible heat, but I got into the flow. It took me 24 hours altogether to make the first wig. Once I had the end product I saw why I had to do all of that. It was very difficult, very tedious, but I love the results and I don’t mind if it’s hard. Life is quite hard, you’re either going to do it or not.

Why do you think creative budgets can’t stretch to include high-quality hair?

Endah Tche: That’s the question. Whenever I’m assisting people who have been doing this for like ten years, they’re, like, ‘the rest of the team doesn’t respect us’. They feel hair stylists don’t get the same respect as everyone else on set and are expected to do a lot despite how long each part takes. I think it’s because people don’t understand how much goes into the job. The lead hairstylist brings four cases sometimes or a minimum of two big cases full of products. They need to bring everything because every person has different hair. You can’t bullshit that type of job; you either know it or you don’t.

How did you develop your rental plan?

Endah Tche: Over the past few years, as I’ve been selling these wigs, there have been many girls who haven’t been able to afford the full piece. When the price tag is £500 and you’re doing a small editorial shoot, there’s no way that you can buy that. It doesn’t make sense, considering how it’s always a one-time use for a lot of people. I thought I could find a way to make it accessible to more people while keeping the quality high. You can tell when a wig is really cheap in an editorial shoot because they’re using a high-quality camera. 

That’s the editorial side, but there’s also everyday use. I don’t want this to be an exclusive thing, where you need to be someone to rent a wig. It goes back to my roots – the girls that I'm doing all of this for aren’t girls doing editorial. They just want to look nice, it’s that simple. But not every student has £400 to pay for a wig. So why not find a way where they can still have access to something that makes them feel good without breaking the bank?

What else do you hope Rent-A-Wig will provide?

Endah Tche: The world is getting more into recycling and repurposing, and rentals are becoming a big thing; I’m trying to bring wigs into that realm. People don’t wear wigs every single day. Instead of making people continuously buy so many things they aren’t going to wear every day, why not have a selection where if somebody wants to wear it, they can, then give it back? It also gives people more experience. If you’re able to try on loads of different things, maybe you’ll find that a colour you never thought would suit you is now your favourite. When I give someone a wig, they feel so happy to try it on without the whole hassle and have a good time. It’s not always such a deep thing.

Trends moving fast is big with Gen Z, but at the same time, they’re the most progressive – or at least seem to be interested in things like sustainability. That seems like a contradiction right now.

Endah Tche: It’s weird because I think people do want to be more sustainable, but the way the world is set up – in terms of the fact that we are in a capitalist society – there’s only so much you can do. The people who can do a lot, who can literally change the world with the flick of a button, are not flicking the button. There’s a limit to how much you can actually do to change the culture, people and consumer behaviour. People are trying to take small steps, but they are also buying and feeding into the system. It’s not their fault. What are you actually supposed to do? 

Moving forward, people are trying to become super rich to try to find a way to do more than just exist – to be happy in the system. Then they realise that by doing that, they would also like it if the world didn’t burn, so they’re trying to be more sustainable. However, those two things don’t work. You have to pick your side of how you want to play the game. I don’t know where things are going, I just know how I would like to play my part in everything.

How would you like to play your part?

Endah Tche: By being a source of happiness for people and changing the landscape in the hair industry. I haven’t been doing this long, however, that doesn’t change my aspirations to what I’d like to do. There’s a girl who assists me, Jamique, and I cannot wait for the day when we’re doing loads of shoots, and editorial projects together and being in the room. For me, it’s just being in the room that makes a huge difference, especially when there’s a model who is Black. You connect instantly because they feel comfortable – even if you don’t say anything, just knowing there’s someone else there.

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