It is no doubt that consumers are increasingly opting to rent clothes rather than buy them, especially in the uncertain pandemic times where consumerism and fast fashion have only grown, while the disposable income has gone down, and events have become fewer because of lockdown restrictions. So, what do you do when you want new clothes every few days but have nowhere to wear them and not a lot of money to spend? You rent it, of course. In 2021-25 itself, the online clothing rental market has experiences a CAGR of almost 10% in a $990 million market of USA alone.
The luxury market is cashing in on that trend as well. Everyone wants to dip their toes in the brand new swimming pool; from major department stores like Selfridges with their online luxury rental platform, Hurr, to contemporary brands like Wardrobe HQ with their white labelling service, My Ventures, that has turned rental into a try-before-you-buy scheme for second-hand fashion. Merely half a decade ago, big luxury brands would have scoffed at the idea of resale or rentals because it goes directly against the positioning they create. With the advent of sustainability and circular economy, a growing population of millennials who are interested in one-night rentals for black tie events, and a marketplace that drives greater customer loyalty than cannibalising sales, we might be seeing a transformation in the luxury fashion industry unfolding right before our eyes.
An example that stands out on the capitalization of the rental market with an edge in green economy is Rotaro, a luxury rental platform that promises to plant a tree for every rental and a thicket of bushes for every new partnership. It quickly formed a huge loyal customer base of people who wanted to give away the expensive dresses they had worn once and were collecting dust in their closets, and buyers who were astounded to be able to rent a Prada bag for less than 40 pounds. They took the throwaway fashion market and resold it 50 times to 50 new consumers, thus reducing wastage and overproduction, and creating multiple pathways to giving renewed value to clothes and accessories that once would have found their last pitstop in the shadowy corners of someone’s wardrobe.
Although huge brands have started coming up with rental solutions and expanding their markets, no one has been able to utilize its full potential. Perhaps with the next few years to come, more luxury brands will break free of their traditional perceptions and jump on the bandwagon. Even for viewers like us, it is sure to be an interesting ride.
By Anshita Bansal