“Bro transfer me £15 my direct debit for my rental drip is due tomorrow” commented an Instagram user on a post from Selfridges’ streetwear Instagram page, @theyellowdrop. The post in question depicted a series of tweets, one of which reads “When you get to the hotel and your girl tears your designer boxers off but you remember that you rented them from Selfridges”. True to the nature of Gen Z, social media users had a field day cracking jokes after an announcement from the luxury department store last month. In partnership with wardrobe sharing platform HURR, Selfridges will be launching its first-ever high-end fashion rental collection, offering shoppers the chance to rent over 100 pieces from more than 40 brands.
All jokes aside, the rental initiative is part of Selfridges admirable new sustainability development, Project Earth, intending to encourage a better, eco-conscious future. The retailer aims to change the way we shop by launching a one-stop destination offering customers the option to repair their most loved items, refill beauty supplies, rent clothing, and resell pre-owned pieces. The ambitious plan falls in line with a changing mindset in fashion, which has been placing an increased emphasis on sustainability. Amid alarming statistics regarding fashion’s part in the global climate change, new solutions within fashion are a necessary imperative.
Many shoppers have unwittingly encouraged a damaging buy-once wear-once culture when it comes to clothing. A survey of 2,000 women in the UK discovered that women wear an article of clothing an average of seven times only. It’s not hard to imagine why no one wants to be caught wearing the same outfit twice, considering we live in an era fixated on social media, fashion trends change sporadically and we are on a constant drip-feed of content which incites spending. The rental market offers a promising solution. Instead of purchasing a new dress for an occasion, shoppers can easily borrow one instead, saving you from spending on clothing you’ll only wear a handful of times. In the long term, this prevents excessive garment disposal, which would otherwise end up in landfills and incinerators once there’s no longer use for it.
Gen Z has already proven to be a demographic which is willing to embrace newness and experimentation; more so than any other generation. The resell landscape has been thriving because of these savvy young consumers, and experts predict that rental is the next big thing, predicted to reach $2.08 Billion by 2025.
In fact, celebrities have been avid fashion renters for years. Remember the pink rhinestone dotted mini dress worn by Kourtney Kardashian? It was a vintage Dior piece, from Janet Mandell’s enviable archive collection. Labelled LA’s best-kept secret, Mandell has built an empire from her couture rental service, and her regular customers include a roster of high-profile clients in the likes of the Hadids, Priyanka Chopra, Taylor Swift and Chrissy Teigan. Mandell isn’t the only one who’s spotted the huge potential in the business of renting. The Albright Fashion Library was founded by stylist Irene Albright, and has an extensive collection of over 39,000 items for celebrities to choose from. The library is responsible for dressing A-listers for red carpets, Oscars, and everything in between. Surely, if rental is good enough for the same celebrities, style stars and trendsetters we look up to for outfit inspiration—isn’t it about time we embrace it too?
Whether you choose to shop rental as an alternative to reduce your ecological footprint, or because you want to look good in designer, who’s to judge? At the end of the day, the rental industry is providing a sustainable solution to overconsumption, and it’s always a good idea to mix and match.