Is rental fashion the future?

Magda Kaczmarska in rented Selkie. Pic: @_magda__

Sustainable fashion consumption is something on every shopper’s conscience, as in recent years we have become aware of the true impact of one of the most polluting industries. However, there are numerous traps to fall into when trying to be a sustainable consumer. Greenwashing is one of these traps. Fast fashion companies often paint their social media profiles with eco-friendly messaging or create a sustainably made capsule collection that sits among thousands of other clothes that lack the same desirable qualities and materials. 

Charity shops have long been a source of sustainable fashion and purchases, but due to the increase of platforms like Depop, they are now a source of inventory for resellers. Many people rely on charity shops for basic needs calling into question how ethical this is. Could rental fashion be the ultimate solution to achieving the status of a sustainable consumer?

Rental fashion platform HURR thinks so, with designer pieces at a fraction of the price of the retail. It is often the case that in luxury fashion, the items are worn once, and by a very select few. This makes sense of course; these pieces are statements and not many people have events they deem worthy of a new designer dress every week. To avoid designer clothing being worn once then hidden away, the founders of HURR Victoria and Matt created a platform to ‘democratise luxury and make fashion circular.’ Whilst we normally purchase clothing, wear it a few times then dispose of it, renting and circular fashion ensures the lifecycle of a garment goes way beyond this.

So, how does it work? The process is simple; renters must register for an account and have their ID-verified. This process takes two minutes as the verification system Passbase completes the process online. You then select an item you wish to borrow, request to book the piece for a duration of your choice. The lender then has 48 hours to accept your request. If this is not approved, you receive a refund. The item is then delivered for you to enjoy and return at the end of the agreed-upon duration.

The concept of renting is not new. Renting wedding dresses or occasion dresses has been a viable option for those looking to save money for years. US website Rent the Runway has existed since 2009, offering clothes from runway shows for rent. Newer options, including HURR and Front Row London, offer the chance to allow your designer pieces to pay for themselves. HURR recently claimed on Twitter that one lender earned £400 in a month using the site. In the age of hype, and designer label and logo obsession, these platforms have the opportunity to slow down the consumption of these one Instagram picture items in particular.

Breaking into the noise from fast-fashion companies on social media like Instagram is difficult and HURR have started collaborating with sustainable bloggers. AK of @sustainablestyle_AK used her collaboration to share why she believes this is the future of consumption she believes our attitude to clothing needs to change and the hyper-consumerism we are all used to is down to fast fashion viewing clothes as “disposable.”

@sustainablestyle_ak in rented L.K. Bennett   @isabelgleeson in rented Cecille Bahnsen

Investing in sustainable pieces is not easy on a budget. Luxury brands have been early adopters of sustainable materials, with Hermes recently announcing a vegan bag made from Mushroom as opposed to Leather. Rental fashion solves the issue of the exclusivity of sustainability, it looks promising that the newest consumers will adopt the idea, with teenagers accounting for over 50% of active Depop users according to Statista, highlighting how attitudes to the second-hand marketplace have shifted for the new generation of fashion consumers. 

The HURR website shows the environmental savings of renting each piece.

The HURR website shows the environmental savings of renting each piece.

With vogue business reporting that by 2030, apparel and footwear are predicted to release 2.7 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions, ideas of how to shift our consumption habits like renting are essential.

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