Fashion: Rental revolution – why you might want to hire your clothes instead of buying new this summer

Fashion rental sites are growing in popularity, says Katie Wright...

Staud Blue Maxi Dress, £8 per day, available from By Rotation

AS ANYONE who has attempted to declutter their wardrobe will know, we’re all guilty of hoarding clothes we don’t ever intend to wear again, or might never have worn in the first place.

A Censuswide poll from 2019 revealed that 83 per cent of people own at least six items of clothing not worn in the last year, while according to WRAP, each year 350,000 tonnes of discarded clothing goes to landfill. Clearly, all this forgotten fashion is having a huge impact on the environment.

That’s just one of the reasons why clothing rental sites – which allow customers to borrow items for a set number of days – have been growing in popularity in recent years, with Carrie Johnson the latest high-profile figure to show off a rented outfit. The wedding dress she wore to marry Prime Minister Boris Johnson in May (which retails at £2,870) was hired from My Wardrobe HQ for just £45 per day.

The largest fashion rental platform in the UK, By Rotation has seen an 800 percent increase in bookings since the end of lockdown was announced. Endless Wardrobe has seen a 270 per cent rise in rental revenue month on month since restrictions started easing, while HURR has experienced 150 per cent year-on-year growth.

Thinking about dipping your toe in the rental pond?

Rental isn’t just about dresses

Bridal or occasion dresses have traditionally been the most popular garments to rent, but these days you can get a wide range of clothing and accessories.

“We’ve stocked tops, dresses, jumpsuits and bottoms since we launched in 2019,” says Hannah Johnston, who co-founded of Endless Wardrobe alongside Rosie Gunn. “Although most rental sites stock predominantly dresses, all categories perform well for us and our customer. She rents for weddings, but also for dates, drinks, dinners, etc.”

It could be a more sustainable option

“By renting rather than buying new, you’re saving the carbon emissions of a garment being manufactured, and extending the lifespan of a garment,” says Georgie Hyatt, CEO and co-founder of Rotaro, which also uses a carbon-neutral delivery partner.

Victoria Prew, co-founder and CEO of HURR, says: “At a time where conscious consumption and minimalism have gained considerable mainstream popularity, we want to change the way the UK customer owns fashion.

“Our newly launched carbon calculator, in partnership with CoGo, shows we’ve helped save the equivalent in carbon of 8,000 trees being cut down, or 1.2 million miles driven in a car.”

By Rotation is a peer-to-peer platform, where users rent from each others’ wardrobes. Founder and CEO Eshita Kabra-Davies explains: “We are 100 per cent circular, as we don’t purchase inventory for the sake of renting it, which is an important factor to consider when renting for environmental reasons.”

Try out trends

Not sure about the supersized collar look? Or whether the cut-out dress trend is for you? With rental sites, you can try out new looks with ease.

“It’s fun,” says Johnston. “You can experiment with your style, try new brands, add exciting variety in your wardrobe, and just send back to us afterwards.”

What’s hot at the moment? Kabra-Davies says: “In the last month, rentals have surged for Ganni’s smock-like plaid dresses, Sleeper’s iconic Atlanta dress and the House of Sunny Hockney dress.”

Alexa Chung Adeline Gathered Dress, rent from £49, available from Endless Wardrobe

Indulge in designer brands

If you’re used to shopping on a high street budget but really hanker for designer items, you may be surprised to discover how affordable rental sites might be, meaning you can get your hands on a designer outfit for a fraction of what it would cost to buy.

“Renting allows the consumer to have access to an extensive wardrobe of their favourite fashion without paying full retail price,” Kabra-Davies says. “People on our app have been extremely positive about how the pricing flexibility allows them to rent just for a day or the weekend.”

HURR works directly with luxury labels, Prew says: “We now have more than 75 exclusive designer brands, including BA&SH, The Vampire’s Wife, LK Bennett and Selfridges.”

Essential Antwerp Yellow Maxi Slip Dress, rent from £35, available from Endless Wardrobe

It’s easy and convenient

The hiring process varies between sites, but it’s usually easy to find, rent and return your perfect outfit.

“We offer our customers the choice to rent for 4, 10 or 16 days, depending on what/where they are renting for – which is good for weekends away, dates, birthdays, brunches, holidays, etc – including the option to buy and keep forever if they love it,” says Johnston.

Hyatt explains: “At Rotaro, we hold our garments centrally and make the renting process as seamless as online shopping. We offer multiple sizes, and offer customers the opportunity to rent multiple sizes and get a refund for those they don’t wear. We guarantee next-day delivery, or you can book up to six months in advance, and we’ll take care of all the cleaning for you.”

Cecilie Bahnsen Oversized Poplin Dress, from £138, available from HURR

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