Shop designer brands, guilt-free, without breaking the bank? It sounds too good to be true, but thanks to the increase in fashion rental sites, the dream of wearing that leather YSL dress can now be a reality.
My Wardrobe HQ, By Rotation and Hurr are just some of the sites that offer an Air BnB style service for clothes as consumers can hire a huge range of stylish pieces for a fraction of the cost to buy, while the business takes care of the delivery and dry cleaning.
The site describes that renting “mimics the dopamine hit from wearing something new, without harming the planet while doing so.”
By Rotation has seen a huge 900% increase in bookings this year, with more than 2million item views since February.
While rental sites were gaining traction pre-pandemic, there has been an undeniable rise in the last year as consumers have a newfound appreciation for clothes and are taking time to evaluate their personal environmental impact.
With its tough durability, leather is an obvious attractive material in the rental market.
Sacha Newell, co-founder of My Wardrobe HQ says: “In addition to contributing to sustainability and circular fashion, for renters they can have access to designers which they may have not had access to while also exposing them to emerging designers they might not have heard of. For our brand partners, it allows them to not only reach a demographic they wouldn’t have been able to access previously but also ensures that surplus stock is used instead of sitting dormant.”
Fashion brands have even adopted the rental idea for their own products.
Ralph Lauren, LK Bennett and eco-friendly label Baukjen now all offer customers the option to borrow an outfit for short term use and return it later.
Founder and CEO of Baukjen, Geoff Van Sonsbeeck, says: “We decided to launch the Baukjen rental service in April 2021 on Earth Day because we wanted to encourage customers to adopt this new way of ‘shopping’ that is much kinder to the planet. We are firm believers that through educating our customers, we can make a difference and rental marks the next step in our journey to becoming a circular business that designs for good.”
Yet while rental companies are undoubtedly key in reducing clothing waste, there has been criticism of their sustainability claims.
Research by the Finnish LUT University found constant use of packaging, delivery and returns transportation, and dry cleaning mean the carbon footprint of rental businesses can be larger than you might first imagine.
“Every company that sells and moves products has the challenge of coming up with sustainable ways of handling stock logistically”, says Sacha.
As well as giving shoppers the opportunity to wear designer items, it also gives them the chance to monetise their wardrobes.
“On the other hand, our supply chain doesn’t involve the challenges production may pose which already eliminates a huge part of clothing being sustainable. The fact that the clothing is being used in multiple ways, multiple times means it’s never wasted.”
Baukjen, whose best-selling leather jackets are the most popular rental products, has also revealed initiatives to reduce emissions by introducing electrical vehicles into their fleet, using efficient laundry equipment and operating rentals from their own warehouse to take charge of their electrical and water usage.
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, the reduction of products going to landfill is a step in the right direction with the ongoing threat the fashion industry has to the planet.
And as the world begins to open up again with events back in the diary, rental sites offer an alternative to the wear-once culture of fast fashion – and I have my eye on these key pieces.
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美国原皮皮革委员会（L&HCA）全球同步发布首支市场推广视频- “Real Leather. Stay Different.