‘It’s more sustainable – and I still get to wear something new every weekend’: how rental fashion became big business - The Guardian

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We person go utilized to staying successful strangers’ homes via Airbnb, borrowing books via Kindle and utilizing pay-as-you-drive car sharing clubs specified arsenic Zipcar to nip to Ikea but, until recently, renting apparel has been a comparatively caller experience.

This could each beryllium astir to change, arsenic a slew of brands and retailers determination to marque covering rental a acold much viable enactment for mundane customers. On the precocious street, H&M has introduced a rental section to its revamped Regent Street store successful London, portion M&S precocious announced it is expanding its offering connected the rental level Hirestreet, done which it archetypal began renting retired items a twelvemonth ago. LK Bennett, John Lewis and Jigsaw person besides started offering customers the enactment to borrow, alternatively than buy, online.

Elsewhere, luxury online store MatchesFashion has conscionable launched an edit of decorator partywear: a chainmail formal from Paco Rabanne that retails for £2,500 tin beryllium rented for 4 days for £219. Instead of buying meme-worthy crisp packet and cocoa barroom bags for £995 from British accessories marque Anya Hindmarch, you tin get them for £23 a day.

The Duchess of Cambridge successful a rented formal astatine the Earthshot prize successful Boston.
The Duchess of Cambridge successful a rented formal astatine the Earthshot prize successful Boston. Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

Celebrities are dilatory embracing this much circular attack to fashion, too. Earlier this month, the Duchess of Cambridge wore a lime greenish Solace formal to the Earthshot Prize successful Boston, rented from the level Hurr for £74, alternatively than bought for £350. The histrion Priyanka Chopra Jonas and world TV prima Kourtney Kardashian are besides fans of rental fashion, arsenic is erstwhile Number 10 nonmigratory Carrie Johnson. Her full 2019 G7 wardrobe was reportedly leased portion her wedding gown, by Greek decorator Christos Costarellos, outgo £45 a time from the rental tract My Wardrobe HQ.

To date, the biggest players successful the UK manner rental marketplace – including Hurr (a website) and By Rotation (an app) – person focused connected providing an edit of high-end labels and what the manner manufacture likes to telephone “sweet-spot brands”, specified arsenic Ganni and Rixo London, whose retail terms constituent falls astir the £250 mark. If you’ve been to a wedding successful the past year, astatine slightest 1 impermanent is guaranteed to person been wearing a printed silky formal from this cohort. The rental terms is typically astir 10% of the RRP, and leases are usually 4 days. Generally, determination are options to adhd a tiny harm extortion fee, too, to cover, say, a vino spillage oregon a breached zip. High-street rentals commencement from arsenic small arsenic £7 a day.

The UK loves to store for clothes. According to the biology radical Wrap, 1 successful 8 radical bargain a caller point of covering each week portion wardrobes clasp 1.6 bn unworn garments. A 4th of the apparel we ain haven’t been worn successful a year.

Until recently, the rental marketplace had been mostly fuelled by Gen Z, which is mostly passionate astir the environment and workers’ rights but inactive wants to person caller looks to amusement disconnected connected societal media. However, with the outgo of surviving situation heightening, consumers are feeling progressively pushed to take betwixt sustainability and price.

With this successful mind, 2022 is proving to person been a pivotal clip for the manner rental industry. According to the information analytics institution GlobalData, the UK rental apparel marketplace is forecast to beryllium worthy £142m by the extremity of the year, with maturation of 62% successful 2023 and 164% predicted successful the pursuing years to 2026. No wonderment the precocious thoroughfare is keen to get successful connected the action, too.

An representation from Hurr’s A/W 2022 campaign.
An representation from Hurr’s A/W 2022 campaign. Photograph: Morgane Maurice

Cara, a 30-year-old concern idiosyncratic from London, says she prefers to rent precocious thoroughfare brands arsenic it’s much outgo effective. “I’ve looked astatine the much costly rental sites – but, for £180, I could bargain a formal alternatively than rent one. Renting precocious thoroughfare brands saves maine money.”

Rental tends to enactment successful a fig of ways. The astir communal is peer-to-peer lending, wherever radical get apparel straight from 1 another. The level charges the lender commission, typically astir 10-15%, to big their wardrobe.

There’s besides a work known arsenic “white label” that is becoming progressively popular. This is wherever a retailer, specified arsenic Jigsaw, uses a rental level (in Jigsaw’s case, My Wardrobe HQ) to transportation retired each the logistics but makes it look arsenic if the lawsuit is renting it straight from its site. It’s an casual mode of attracting customers who mightiness different beryllium intimidated by a circumstantial rental site. Instead of having to trawl done aggregate brands, they tin browse connected the tract of a marque they are already acquainted with.

Victoria Prew, laminitis and CEO of Hurr, explains that her institution takes a hybrid approach. Alongside a immense peer-to-peer assemblage (items indispensable beryllium little than 2 years aged and retail for much than £120) Hurr does each the faffy, analyzable bits – organising returns, cleaning and reshipping each point – for much than 130 brands, including Hugo Boss. It besides powers rental for retailers including Selfridges, John Lewis and, astir recently, Matches Fashion. “We’re up 700% successful presumption of year-on-year revenue,” she says.

Clothing rented from My Wardrobe HQ.
Clothing rented from My Wardrobe HQ. Photograph: My Wardrobe HQ

With slick branding and glamorous advertizing campaigns, these platforms personify the Gen Z lawsuit to whom they anticipation to appeal: deliberation feather-trimmed mini dresses from 16 Arlington, towering heels from Prada and teeny tiny bags from Jacquemus designed for garnering likes connected Instagram. It feels similar browsing successful a luxury store, alternatively than rummaging done someone’s castoffs.

The high-street champions, specified arsenic Hirestreet, instrumentality a much humble approach. Founder and CEO Isabella West says she was inspired to acceptable up the concern aft realising determination was a spread successful the marketplace for a little priced rental option. Alongside M&S, you’ll find British precocious thoroughfare staples including French Connection and River Island. There’s besides dedicated tall, petite and curve ranges with sizes spanning a UK 4 to a UK 32.

“We are not the radical to travel to erstwhile you person £100 to rent a £1,000 dress,” says West. “Our astir fashionable offering astatine the infinitesimal is immoderate 2 dresses for £30. The crushed we are doing that connection is that our customers told america that is the magnitude they would typically walk successful a store specified arsenic H&M, to get thing similar a Christmas enactment look.”

The outgo of surviving is intelligibly a driving unit for Hirestreet’s popularity. Launched successful 2018, it present has much than 1.5 cardinal users. It doesn’t connection a rolling subscription; instead, users take to rent pieces from 4 to 30 days. The radical who person joined since January person typically rented 10 times each implicit the past 10 months.

“People mightiness person allocated 5% of their disposable income to manner [in the past] but present they request an further 3% for essentials, specified arsenic groceries,” says West. “They inactive person the aforesaid fig of events to spell to but they’ve got little to spend. Whatever behaviour they person towards being sustainable is going to beryllium challenged.”

While astir platforms absorption connected apparel for events specified arsenic parties and weddings, for its latest Hirestreet offering, M&S has zoned successful connected casualwear with the motorboat of six capsule collections fixed names specified arsenic Autumn Warmth and Comfy Cool, and featuring hoodies, puffer jackets and consecutive limb jeans. Prices scope from £39 for 5 days, up to £59 for 30 days rental.

BY ROTATION Press publicity representation supplied by PR
Photograph: By Rotation

“The rental marketplace has been wide associated with ceremonial events but we cognize 35% of M&S customers are funny successful renting for a casual lawsuit specified arsenic a play away,” says Richard Price, managing manager of covering and location astatine M&S.

By curating bestselling products into themed collections, M&S aims to amusement “how staple items tin beryllium utilized to benignant up to 10 abstracted outfits, cleanable for making budgets spell further,” says Price. The City Knits capsule, which includes wide-legged jersey trousers, a fleece gilet and a Breton striped jumper, has proved to beryllium astir popular, and is booked retired successful astir sizes until January.

Alongside renting occasionwear, Cara says she has much precocious started renting staple items, specified arsenic T-shirts, too. “At the moment, I’m having to deliberation much shrewdly astir each acquisition I make. Even buying basics adds up and, fixed the prime and the magnitude I’d deterioration them, they wouldn’t past maine past winter. Renting is much sustainable but I inactive get the instant gratification of having thing caller to deterioration each weekend.”

While each rental sites marque claims towards sustainable fashion, the world of this is hard to gauge. Rental mightiness beryllium a mode to debar buying new, but it besides necessitates an endless rhythm of packaging, transport, and cleaning.

Hurr is simply a certified B Corporation, meaning it meets verified standards relating to its societal and biology performances. Its efforts towards sustainability see an exclusive concern with Oxwash, a chemical-free adust cleaner, alongside courier bags that tin beryllium reused connected mean 30 times. However, this lone relates to the items Hurr manages directly.

For peer-to-peer, the lenders instrumentality attraction of the garment’s travel themselves, making it adjacent much analyzable erstwhile it comes to claims of reducing the quantity of apparel successful the manner cycle. Some lenders are specifically buying items to rent retired with top lenders making up to £20k a year. Renting arsenic a sustainable broadside hustle? The lines are ever blurred.

Vanessa, a quality idiosyncratic from London precocious made £1,000 successful a week and is aiming to “maintain this momentum” successful the pb up to the festive season. She says she focuses connected “evening gowns, sparkly worldly and things with feathers, pieces that you’ll deterioration once.” Her apical performing brands see The Vampire’s Wife, 16Arlington and Alessandra Rich. “For astir people, it’s hard to warrant those terms tags,” she says, with retail prices averaging astir the £1,500 mark. “[But] you tin wage a fraction of the retail terms successful rental from me.”

While Hirestreet has its ain warehouse successful Glasgow wherever it says it minimises the usage of chemic cleaners, alongside trying to trim integrative discarded successful items specified arsenic overgarment hangers, West believes the biggest interaction rental tin person is by changing user behaviour, particularly the “buy once, deterioration once” mentality.

“Ninety per cent of the c footprint of an point happens successful the accumulation phase. By renting an point you person the accidental to divided the accumulation produced c implicit each idiosyncratic that is wearing it,” she says.

A formal from Jigaw …
A formal from Jigaw … Photograph: Jigsaw

In a pugnacious economical climate, rental is providing a immense accidental for retailers, too. Cara says that M&S is simply a marque she would person overlooked earlier renting its apparel via Hirestreet. It was a brace of leather trousers, hired for £32 alternatively than bought for £179, that changed her mind. Hirestreet besides often lets you rent aggregate sizes, and immoderate unworn items gain you recognition that tin beryllium utilized connected aboriginal rentals.

In 2020, Oasis closed each its stores aft administrators said they had been incapable to unafraid a rescue woody for the manner chain. Its banal has since been sold to the restructuring steadfast Hilco. This summer, connected Hirestreet, it became 1 of the site’s astir fashionable brands.

“A batch of our customers hunt by juncture alternatively than by brand,” says West. “We springiness them an edit of astir 50 recommended garments. They are looking astatine a style, alternatively than a label. They whitethorn not person chosen to spell to that brand’s website truthful we tin service arsenic the cleanable reintroduction to a brand.”

With reports of declining municipality centres and store closures could rental beryllium a mode of future-proofing highstreet labels successful a volatile market? With galore brands booked retired crossed the assorted sites for weeks astatine a time, possibly it is the solution the manufacture has been looking for. Only time, and societal media tags, volition tell.

For decorator name-droppers

My Wardrobe HQ

Featuring options from manner insider favourites including The Row, present you rent decorator pieces for up to 14 days. There’s besides a subscription exemplary offering 2 to 4 pieces each period and collaborations with Harrods, Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger.

By Rotation

For channelling your favourite influencer

By Rotation

Operating arsenic a marketplace for lenders and renters, present you tin browse the wardrobes of much than 200,000 users, including influencers with clout. Follow your favourites and stock oregon inquire for styling tips.

For mothers-to-be

For The Creators

Featuring some maternity and non-maternity brands, you tin rent by some “bump stage” oregon occasion. Everything from wafty dresses for a “babymoon” to nursing bras successful the “home from hospital” edit person been thought of.

For cloth fiends

Baukjen

A London-based womenswear marque that produces sustainably focused pieces successful EU factories. Think integrated fabric jeans and recycled knitwear. Rent pieces successful a size UK 6-18 for up to 2 weeks.

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