TAKING FASHION FOR A TEST DRIVE: THE SUSTAINABILITY OF RENTING CLOTHES
Millions of fashion lovers are turning to clothing rental platforms in an effort to try on the latest clothes, without destroying the planet
Bringing true sustainability to fahion
Think about it – renting fashion allows us to flaunt wear-it-once styles and then toss them out, without any of the guilt associated with fast fashion, which is synonymous with water pollution, labour abuses, and textile waste.
As a society, we’re rapid consumers of fashion. Changing trends and inferior quality products make clothing cheap and easily discardable. A London Fashion Week study by Vanish found that out of 1000 adults, 64% have purchased items they’ve only worn once. Half had bought items they had never even worn.
When we shop for fast fashion items, there are three things that stand out: liking the clothes; their affordability; and the amount of choice available. Always wanting to have the newest looks means clothes are rarely worn more than a few times. This forms a never-ending cycle of consumption that is destroying the environment.
Recently, we have become more aware of the consequences fast fashion has on the environment and many are turning to more sustainable means to fuel their desires for new clothes. But sustainable fashion is often expensive and excludes larger sizes, which makes it difficult for those wanting to be environmentally-friendly to choose this option. Rental fashion helps to bridge this gap: it gives you fashionable clothing at a cheaper price and, because you don’t have to ‘commit’ to any item, allows consumers to experiment with different styles, rapidly.
The appetite is clearly there. Renting out clothes is already huge in the US, Australia, and the Asian retail market. In the US alone, fashion rental is already well established. In 2019, Rent the Runway closed an impressive $125M in funding. By contrast, in the UK, £140M worth of used clothing is set to landfill every year. Yikes! It’s time for the UK to catch up – for the planet's sake.
A solution for sustainability
Rental clothes are not going to put an end to fast fashion any time soon, however, it’s definitely going to change how we consume fashion. It will also make luxury items more accessible to people of all socio-economic backgrounds. It’s a viable alternative to fast fashion and one that the planet desperately needs.
We already live in a world accustomed to sharing: we share Ubers and we share Airbnb homes on a regular basis. Sharing our wardrobes should be no different. The initial challenge lies in getting the public comfortable with the idea of renting, rather than owning, clothes. It will take a mentality shift, and brands like Garmentry are helping us transition to realising that we can enjoy fashion without, necessarily, having to possess it.
Plus, we can dip our toes into a new trend, afford luxury items for less, and not have to commit or have any of the guilt associated with fast fashion...what’s not to like?