Fashion fans who want to remain eco-conscious found themselves at a crossroads when the true impact of clothes production became one of the main talking points in climate crisis discussions. The last few years have seen significant growth of the sustainability movement, and fast fashion is the latest industry consumers are rejecting. The affordable prices of sites such as Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo made constant consumption accessible, normalising the purchase of a new outfit for each social event in your life. Long-term, it is clear that this habit is not only dangerous for the planet, but also our wallets and over-stuffed wardrobes. Thankfully, a solution has come to both the web and the high street just in time: clothes rental.
Whilst many climate activists operate an all-or-nothing approach in terms of the actions they take, clothes rental provides the perfect compromise for those who get a thrill out of a fresh outfit, without contributing to over-production of new garments. Rental company HURR describes itself as ‘your unlimited virtual wardrobe’, offering designer items for as little as 1/10th of their retail price which customers can rent for up to 20 days. Each item listed on site also features information about the amount of CO2 saved by renting rather than buying.
Trend cycles are now moving faster than ever before, with social media platforms such as TikTok dismissing fads just as quickly as they created them. Whilst this attitude towards stylish dressing has its own complexities, being able to rent, return and share trends removes the need for fast fashion retailers to release hundreds of new designs every week. Moreover, rental platforms add a level of accessibility to designer brands which are otherwise out of budget for the average customer. Rather than paying £400 for the Lirika Matoshi dress you’re desperate to wear to your friend’s wedding, it can be yours for the weekend for £47 – and you won’t suffer the post-party guilt of staring at the dress sat in your wardrobe months later that you know you’ll never wear again.
A report by Westfield in 2016 found that the untapped clothes rental market in the UK was worth £1bn, and five years later it seems retailers are catching up. It won’t be long before every person whose outfit you compliment in the club toilets replies by saying “Thank you, it’s rented!”. Next time you’re browsing Net-a-Porter trying to talk yourself out of dropping your last pay check on a coat you don’t really need, see where you can rent it from instead.
Image courtesy of Becca McHaffie.