How many times have you bought a new item for a sole event and then never worn it again? Lunch with friends, that summer wedding, that dinner event at the Shard? Once you wore that dress and have posted numerous photos in it on Instagram, its a rarity that you’d be seen in it again. So what happens to it? It gets pushed to the back of your wardrobe or you list it on Depop hoping someone will buy it for just a fraction of the price you paid for it, but realistically it’ll end in the bag that your mum drops off for charity shop donations in a couple years time. And thats the ugly truth.
Last year I read an article online on Instagram users who bought clothes simply to wear once for a good photo and then return them back to retailers for a refund, and that got me thinking, is this ideology bad or just needs some adjusting. If you’re a large retailer like ASOS, you most definitely don’t want people doing the wear-then-return number on you as it can alter your sales figures, and so thats why they introduced a new Returns Policy announcing that they would be increasing the window to return unwanted items, from 28 to 45 days after delivery. But it also said it may now investigate and shut down accounts if it identifies an "unusual pattern" of buying and returning.
Now, if ASOS instead launched a low cost rental service, this would combat mass returns and in-turn would be a much more economically friendly option as consumers would only need to rent the item for as long as they’d need it for, meaning waste would be at a minimum.
As I became more interested in transitioning my pro fast-fashion buying habits into being more economically and sustainably friendly, I came across a renting service where consumers can rent designer items and then return them once they’ve been worn. This means it cuts down people buying one-off outfits to wear just once and means pieces can have a longer lifetime.
RE-NT is a luxury rental service based in Berlin, offering a solution for sustainable change in the fashion industry. They have an unlimited subscription so that consumers can have designer labels at a fraction of the price ensuring their customers follow their ethos of RE-USE, RE-WEAR, RE-NT. They want you have fun with experiencing fashion without the commitment of ownership.
Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss co-founded Rent the Runway together in 2009 and its been history ever since. With sustainability at its core, they’re on a mission to build a better future for fashion and its just the beginning of their journey.
Customers can rent one of their designer items for a 4- or 8-day period for as low as 10% of the retail price through their traditional platform, RTR Reserve. Rent the Runway carries apparel in sizes 0 to 22, depending on the designer and each dress rental includes a back-up size at no additional cost to ensure it fits. Also, customers can get a second dress style for an additional fee. Rental prices include the dry cleaning and care of the garments so that the luxury item can stay in good condition for as long as possible. The company also rents accessories, including jewelry and handbags, and sells “essentials,” including lingerie, tights, shapewear, and cosmetics.
Rent the Runway has physical locations in New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Customers can visit any of Rent the Runway’s five stores, work with a personal stylist, and either take items directly with them or book dresses and accessories for future events.
The last rental service I came across is Nova Octo, a luxury eveningwear rental service offering a carefully curated archive of timeless designer and couture gowns at a higher price point. The novel retail concept provides a high end experience at the click of a button, or through a personal styling session at the stunning Tribeca showroom.
Born as an answer to the problem of waste in the luxury retail industry, Nova Octo has a mission to preserve special occasion wear pieces and to make them available to the fashion conscious, socially responsible woman. Giving back is also at the core of the company, with 15% from every rental being donated to charities that are focused on the environment and education.
The next time you need an clothes that you know you’ll only wear once, make the conscious decision to rent instead of buying. With the copious amounts of rental services available, it would be carless not to take advantage of it and who knows, you might even find a steal!