You can save a lot by hiring accessories and outfits for special occasions, including dresses and handbags.
After one of the London fashion week’s shows, I took to the stage and complimented the editor at a glossy magazine about the trouser suit that she was wearing. She thanked me and then added, raising her voice, glancing around, “It’s actually rented.” She also said that my dress was beautiful. I was able to reply – although my voice may have been slightly raised – “This is also rented.” Rental is more hot than Balenciaga. “Thanks, it was rented,” is the ultimate front row flex. After so many years of wearing the same clothes, I decided to try something new for London Fashion Week. I rented three dresses from My Wardrobe, including a Ganni wrap dress, a long dramatic gown, and Victoria Beckham’s graphic-printed midi-length day gown. Each dress cost between PS6 to PS24 per day. I felt satisfied with my fashion cravings and even more on trend then usually after shopping.
The British Fashion Council commissioned a Circular Fashion Ecosystem Report to study the shopping habits of high-intensity buyers. This means that they buy more than one piece per month. It found that 37% rent clothes in addition to buying. This trend is not only about environmental values, but also about our habits. Spotify subscriptions have replaced countless CDs. Netflix has replaced the DVD. It is no longer a good idea to have a lot of stuff. Both the transportation of clothes and their cleaning create carbon emissions. You’re doing the planet no favors if you drive 10 miles to pick-up a pair of jeans, then drive back, dry-clean them, and then drive the same distance again. Some rental companies rent electric vans or cycle couriers. Nearly all of them do wet-washing, or liquid CO2 cleaning instead of dry cleaning.
The market for rental clothes that we wear very rarely is the largest. This area offers rental options that are carbon-efficient and allow us to access dresses that already exist. Renting is a good option if you want people to quit drinking Coca-Cola. However, renting a physical object can be complicated. Anyone who has spent any time at an airport car rental desk knows this well.
At the moment, “rental” can refer to different things. My Wardrobe, Rotaro, and Selfridges offer rental services. It’s similar to shopping online for fashion: you can find what you want, choose your size, and then put it in your basket. My Wardrobe has a Harrods boutique where you can rent and try on a selection of Harrods stock. Onloan is another rental company that operates on a membership basis. You pay a monthly fee to rotate new pieces in your wardrobe. Cocoon and BagButler can only be used to rent handbags. Hurr and By Rotation allow you to match dresses in other people’s closets with yours.
Peer-to-peer can be rewarding, but it requires more effort. After I rented a dress from By Rotation that I loved, I went straight back to the same lender the next time I needed it. I struck again. It felt like a win.