Couch-Hopping: The Latest Phenomenon in an Age of Commitment Phobia

Millennials are thought to be the generation of impermanence who just can’t cope with committing to anything, whether that be a job, a person or a property. Many studies have shown that an age of “having it all” has led to capriciousness, instability and indecisiveness. The career ladder, rather than a straight and predictable line, has become jumping between sectors, job roles and companies in a matter of months. Fast and cheap fashion has solidified its place in the fashion sector, changing how we buy and wear clothes. Dating apps have altered our attitude to love, with the next best thing always one swipe away. And now the commitment phobia has even spread to household items. 

The latest phenomenon reflecting this trend is a new start-up promising changeability for your sofa. Feather, a furniture subscription service, offers a “flexible and sustainable alternative to ownership” meaning that now, you don’t even need to commit to a sofa. 

The company was founded in 2017 by Jay Reno with the philosophy that people “shouldn’t be burdened by owning their furniture” in a world where “people’s lives are constantly changing”. The company has evolved since its first days and now is a rent-to-own model. 

This is also a quest to solve the problem of “fast furniture” in which frequent moves and frequent purchases of cheap, low-quality furniture has meant a staggering 9.7 million tons of furniture in the landfills every year. Millennials are said to move more than 12 times before purchasing a home meaning the high turnover of cheap furniture. Feather hopes to offer a more eco-friendly and cost-effective solution to this problem. 

The business model is based around a two-tier subscription model: members and non-members. Members pay a monthly fee of $19 for an annual membership and benefit from significant discounts. In addition, there is a rent-to-own model which allows the previously paid rent to act as a down payment for the cost of purchase if they choose to buy the sofa. They can change their furniture for a cost of $99 per swap, with one annual free change for members. Assembly and delivery are also free services. 

Recently, the start-up has received $12 million in new financing, led by Spark Capital. Spark Capital is a veteran in this sector having helped fund other startups in the furniture sector including Everything But The House and Wayfair. This new investment brings Feather’s total funding to $16 million. The company is already said to have thousands of customers across rent capitals New York City and San Francisco. They will be expanding their reach with delivery services in new locations across the United States from May.