How Clothing Rental Service Startups Is Setting a Trend in the Fashion Industry

How Clothing Rental Service Startups Is Setting a Trend in the Fashion Industry

Can’t find anything from your closet to wear again? Enter clothing rental service.

Fashion is one of the many ways with which you can express yourself. From vintage trends comebacks to the emergence of more inclusive clothing brands, like SKIMS, and fashion tech, the fashion industry continues to evolve and makes shopping for garments fun—but not for the environment. The apparel industry accounts for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions and consumes 1.5 trillion liters of water (about 400,000 Olympic swimming pool) each year. If you love fashion but don’t want to be environmentally-conscious with shopping, you might be interested in jumping on the bandwagon of the fashion sharing culture. Fashion sharing, or fashion renting, allows us to rent clothes offered by the host company for a couple hours or days.

Over the past few years, there are more and more companies specializing in clothing rental services. They provide a marketplace for people to pay to subscribe and rent pre-loved luxury clothes and designer bags. In doing so, the companies are integrating the sharing economy (think about bike sharing businesses) with the fashion clothing industry. 

Let’s take a look at how fashion rental startups are transforming the fashion industry. 

Sustainability in the fashion industry

Fast fashion has been a pressing concern in the fashion retail industry for a long time. It mainly focuses on getting runway trends to the market and letting the customers purchase them as soon as possible. Since these clothes are meant to follow trends, many of these clothes are dumped and sent straight to the landfill once the trend cycles change. The speed of producing these clothes has led to a problem—environmental pollution. For instance, the fashion industry, which is responsible for 10% of annual carbon emissions, emits more carbon dioxide than all international flights and maritime shipping combined each year. 

With the grave environmental impact of the fashion industry in mind, fashion rental companies focus on sustainability. Take one of the fashion rental startups, Style Theory, as an example. Style Theory aims to create a new norm to promote renting clothes to create a more eco-friendly lifestyle. The Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Style Theory, Raena Lim, wants to help propel the idea of sustainability in the fashion industry. To achieve this goal, Lim established her company by providing people an “infinite wardrobe stored in the cloud” where people can rent over 30,000 items, including apparel and accessories. Since these clothes are rentals, they wouldn’t end up in the landfill even if the customers stopped liking to wear them anymore. This echoes the concept of sustainability in the fashion industry, which has become a priority for the public. 

Personalized closet 

Choosing what to wear every single day while staring at your closet is a common struggle that nearly everyone faces. Besides allowing customers to rent clothes, clothing rental service sites are also expanding their service to personalize style for their customers. 

For example, the fashion rental site Armoire learns the unique style of each customer to help them save time on shopping. To do that, Armoire’s AI-powered recommendation engine will build a closet that suits each customer’s preferences by analyzing images of outfits the user usually wears and asking them direct questions on their fashion style. Then, customers receive a curated collection of designer outfits which they can rent. Customers can also rent the looks that are created and shared by other members on the site. With fashion rental service sites providing style recommendations and customized selections, there will be less frustration from picking your outfits.

Moving forward: more inclusivity in fashion-sharing 

Apart from a personalized closet, inclusivity is also a crucial factor to consider when shopping for clothes. Plus-size women often have to resort to fast fashion because many clothing rental platforms only provide limited options for women above the size of US 12 or UK 16.

Given the fashion sharing economy is positioned to be more customer-oriented, it has the potential to effectively push for inclusivity and diversity in the clothing industry. To make sure the clothes are actually rented, fashion-sharing startups have to cater to the needs and sizes of customers. That, coupled with the massive growth potential of the plus-size fashion market, which is expected to rise from US$481 million in 2019 to US$697 million by 2027, will prompt fashion sharing startups and fashion industry as a whole to become more inclusive.

Some examples of plus-size clothing rental services include Nuuly (which offers clothes up to size 40), Gwynnie Bee (sizes 0-32) and Fashion to Figure Closet (sizes 12-24 and XL-3XL). Apart from sizes, garment rental platforms, such as Loanhood, branded itself as gender-inclusive to empower people across the gender spectrum. With these pioneers in the scene in play, we can be optimistic about seeing more inclusive fashion rental startups in future.

Hopefully, the novelty of the fashion renting trend will induce a radical change in the fashion industry and how customers purchase clothes. With fashion rental possessing various advantages, let’s try to embrace eco-friendly fashion and support those who are making strides to improve the fashion industry for the better.

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Header Image Courtesy of Freepik

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