If you are looking to become more ethical when it comes to your fashion footprint, then renting might just be the way forward. During the last 10 years social media has become more ubiquitous in consumers’ lives, combined with fast moving trends. This has given rise to this new rental market, beyond the previous wedding suit and fancy dress market. So instead of purchasing a new outfit for a wedding, you now have the possibility to rent the latest season’s fashion instead. During 2019, Bloomberg called renting clothes “the future of fashion“. It was predicted that the online clothing rental market could offer average returns of almost 11% between 2019 and 2023.

However, this was all before the pandemic. With so many of these key occasions now on pause, increasing concerns around hygiene, and consumers retreating to loungewear, meant the future of the fashion rental market started to look decidedly bleak. UK based fashion rental platform Hurr Collective told Vogue in May 2020 how the demand has definitely fallen in their sector since people were no longer were going to events, coupled with sanitation concerns.

Yet, could there now be change on the horizon for the future of fashion rental? Looking at Google trends data from the last year, it is evident that the clothing rental market took a predictable hit during the pandemic; however, there are already some positive signs that the sector is recovering, with the search terms creeping up again. Furthermore the drive to make the fashion industry a more ecologically responsible, greener and a less impactful industry has not gone away. It accounts for 10% of global emissions and 20% of waste water. To put that in perspective, fashion uses more energy globally than both aviation and shipping combined.

Recently, a number of brands have made efforts to address these issues and try to encourage consumers to rent rather than buy, in spite of the on-going pandemic.

Brands such as Levi’s who have teamed up with Danish brand Ganni to create a capsule collection for Ganni Repeat, a “rental platform that’s trying to create a more circular fashion system and help people rethink how they consume fashion”. This rental-only collection is a first for both brands.

Meanwhile, Selfridges has launched its first ever in-house rental collection in partnership with Hurr Collective. After a successful pop-up concession, it has now become a permanent fixture within the store. This is part of their new sustainability pledge, ‘Project Earth’, with the store changing the way we shop by addressing the environmental impact of materials and production methods used in products, launching a repair and resell retail model and working with customers to try and shift mindsets to become more earth friendly.

With so many uncertainties and people becoming increasingly risk adverse when it comes to their health, it is evident that the pandemic has had a negative effect on the demand for clothing and the clothing rental idea, in particular. Yet we have started to see a glimmer of interest again across this sector with the easing of lockdown measures. It will be interesting to see how this market reacts and evolves in the coming year.

Sources:

  1. https://www.vogue.co.uk/fashion/article/will-the-fashion-rental-market-recover
  2. https://www.businessinsider.com/startup-by-rotation-bucks-trend-rent-the-runway-struggles-covid-2020-7?r=US&IR=T
  3. https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?geo=GB&q=clothing%20rental
  4. https://www.elle.com/fashion/shopping/a33573693/ganni-repeat-levis-collection/
  5. https://www.harpersbazaar.com/uk/fashion/fashion-news/a33630593/selfridges-rental-collection-hurr/
  6. https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/clothing-rental-covid-19-demand-085800704.html
  7. The Future of Fashion Is a Rented Dress
  8. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200310-sustainable-fashion-how-to-buy-clothes-good-for-the-climate

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