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How To Hire Designer Fashion: An Expert Guide

 

This week Vogue wrote about Girl Meets Dress, and the increase in fashion hire and the link to shoppers desire to be conscious of their textile footprint.
Read the full article below and on this link >

 

With sustainability increasingly at the forefront of shoppers’ minds, Vogue reveals how you can upgrade your wardrobe by borrowing, not buying.
Whether it’s a vintage Dior gown or a million-pound Tiffany necklace, celebrities are accustomed to borrowing designer pieces to wear on the red carpet – especially during awards season. But for the everyday consumer, renting premium fashion remains a relatively untapped area that is far from mainstream. Thanks to ever more environmentally conscious shoppers gradually turning their backs on fast fashion, this is about to change.
An influx of fashion rental sites across the world – from Girl Meets Dress in the UK to the US-based Rent The Runway and YCloset in China – means the rental economy is growing, with the industry set to be worth more than £1.4billion by the end of 2023.

A major factor driving change is the increasing global concern surrounding sustainability; a circular economy has been widely recognised as a legitimate solution. “People are becoming more aware of their environmental footprint; these days none of us want to be wasteful,” Girl Meets Dress co-founder Anna Bance tells Vogue. “50 per cent of fast fashion pieces are discarded within a year and as responsible shoppers we are under pressure to close this loop.”
The rise of Instagram and influencer culture that feeds the need for more variety in people’s wardrobes has contributed to the boom in rental businesses too. For those who want the best of both, sustainable fashion updates if you will, renting is the perfect solution. Merri Smith, co-founder of peer-to-peer app Tulerie observes that “with social media, people are photographing their entire lives now, you don’t want to wear things over and over”. But instead of buying something new, “why not borrow it?” she asks.
Luxury brands are also beginning to tap into the potential of the rental market. In fact, Rent The Runway recently teamed up with Derek Lam, Jason Wu and Prabal Gurung to unveil their first exclusive capsule collections. “As the scale of our business has grown, [designers] have realised [the fashion rental market is] healthy; that it’s not hurting their regular business,” says Rent The Runway’s senior buying director James Newell.
Build on your existing wardrobe
You should think of renting as a way to upgrade your current wardrobe, says Smith, who founded Tulerie with business partner Violet Gross after finding they were increasingly borrowing from friends. “70 per cent of your wardrobe is the pieces you’re wearing over and over. We want people to look at enhancing that,” she explains. By renting pieces to supplement your core wardrobe, you can also afford to invest in more expensive staple items that would normally be out of your reach.
Don’t be afraid to take risks
As you’re not committing to a single piece, you can experiment outside of your style comfort zone when renting – including when it comes to new brands. “Be willing to take risks! This is your chance to take rational decision-making out of your fashion choices,” Newell, from Rent The Runway, advises. “Swap out clothes regularly, try new trends and borrow for parts of your life you didn’t anticipate at the start of your journey.”
Plan for special occasions
If you’ve got a big event coming up, it’s important to think ahead – as popular dresses can often get booked up. “There is no rule about how far in advance of the event you should order. The sooner the better. We get dresses booked for weeks, months ahead,” Bance, from Girl Meets Dress, advises.
Think workwear
The boom in the rental fashion market is in part due to more relaxed dress codes in the office, making workwear a key focus area. “15 to 20 years ago, a woman could wear the same anonymous suit as her male counterparts, or invest in a couple of chic dresses and get by with that,” Newell says. “Now there is such a tremendous demand to have varied looks. [Renting] offers a nice solution.”

Make use of the rental community
The online communities that exist around fashion rental sites are a valuable resource. 60 per cent of Rent The Runway customers leave reviews on items they’ve borrowed; and Tulerie, which sees users borrowing from each other, has also found their members wanting to share tips. “People want to talk, they want advice on how to style something,” Smith explains. “We are trying to create this network of women, who are bonding over [a] shared interest of clothing.”


Rent the Runway UK

 

Every day we get many of you wondering if there is a rent the runway in London, and we are happy to help you all find dresses for your events. Some of you used to live in the US, and used the hire service over there. Don’t worry! Thank you for getting in touch! Shopping with Girl Meets Dress is a very similar service so don’t worry about becoming familar with our dresses, designers and How it all works!

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Get in touch with our dress hire UK team, we are based in London and you can either rent a dress in London online or book a dress rental shop appointment by getting in touch: showroom@girlmeetsdress.com

We can also help with US to UK sizing so you ensure the best dress fit for your dress rental order.

Here are some useful dress hire links:

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Six Chinese Fashion Platforms That Let You Share What You Wear

 

We have an ever growing Chinese customer base in the UK using Girl Meets Dress to borrow dresses for all their events. Not surprisingly they are very familar to the hire fashion rental service! We loved reading this article below about the main fashion hire companies who have taken the Girl Meets Dress hire innovation and made it their own for the Chinese market and demographic!

Read the whole article below:

Jan 17
By Tim Forslund
Researching circular business models in China and curricula in higher education more broadly.

 

“Around the world, fashion has been getting faster. Nowhere is this as noticeable as in China. 15 years ago, clothing utilisation— the average number of times a new garment is worn — was around 200, the same as the rest of the world. Since then, this number has fallen by two-thirds, to just 62 wears. This is a big deal: apparel accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than flights and maritime shipping combined, is a huge source of ocean microfibres, and involves hazardous substances that affect the health of both textile workers and wearers of clothes. This is a system ripe for disruption.

A new model for the fashion industry is emerging, and sharing is one component. The sharing economy has gained considerable traction in China, and by 2025 it is expected to account for 20% of GDP. China’s large population of mobile-savvy consumers have made the country into a testbed for innovations enabled by mobile pay. Add that to delivery fees up to five times lower than in the US, and China is well placed to make fashion more circular through shared wardrobes, which keep items in use for longer, and require fewer garments to be made. You may have heard of New York-based Rent the Runway (described as a ‘Netflix of clothes’), but have you heard of these six Chinese players?

1. MsParis (女神派) came online as one of the first Chinese fashion rental platforms in 2014. Today, it has 7m registered users and the largest wardrobe in China. Similar to Rent the Runway, it initially focused on rental of prom dresses and similar special-occasion garments. Today, however, it includes a larger portfolio of more everyday clothes available through a subscription service. The company offers a few different options, but the standard subscription service costs $US 50/month. As there is no limit to how many garments you can order per month — only per shipment — you can keep rotating the clothes after each use. In December 2018, MsParis launched a new offering for customers, enabling the rental of brand new clothes. After their first use, these garments become part of the standard subscription offering. This could could be a gateway for those wary of sharing, overcoming initial doubts around the condition and hygiene of rented clothes.

2. Y-Closet (衣二三) Another big player, Y-Closet is slightly more expensive than MsParis, with a monthly subscription fee of $US 75/month, and a customer segment that leans towards the higher-end. Notably, as much as 30% of their profits come from sales through items that its users have purchased following a rental period. While this additional source of revenue is undoubtedly a boon for the company, this practice means that a proportion of its clothes are in fact not shared, but owned outright, which could lead to them being underused, as in the traditional sales model. For more information about Y Closet, see the case study from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

3. YEECHOO is a rental platform based in Hong Kong. Unsurprisingly, it is smaller with around 15,000 active subscribers, and it does not have what some of its bigger rivals see as their core competence — its own dry-cleaning facility. Like Rent the Runway and MsParisYEECHOO started with special-occasion rental, and only later expanded to also include a subscription model. At $US 100/month, it reflects the population of Hong Kong (largely high-wage white-collar workers), and is more upmarket than its much larger mainland counterparts. Undeterred by bigger rivals, YEECHOO has started to look beyond Hong Kong, to the mainland market.

4. Starluxe (星洞) is a rental company that specialises in the high-end segment of fashion, with members categorised into three segments of $US 120, 240 or 360/month, depending on the items rented. Recognising that luxury items are becoming increasingly expensive, and that fashion is moving at an ever faster pace, Starluxe saw an opportunity. Most users are between 25–40, years old, and the focus is on the largest cities in China, in which it currently finds more than 10,000 users. Beyond garments, watches and suitcases are included too, with items not rented out in two months going to the second-hand market. However, as the rotation of products is only 16 months, there are questions around how high the usage rates can be.

5. Yiqidai (一起戴) Although some of the bigger players offer both handbags and jewellery as part of their assortment, others specialise, such as jewellery platform Yiqidai. For those curious but unconvinced, it lets them try items for just over a dollar. While Yiqidai is one of the leaders in this field in China, it faces many competitors, such as Vincent & Aaron (VA文森艾伦), Crazy Moles(疯狂鼹鼠), and Astrologie (梵星学) to name a few. Although rings or necklaces may seem like an inconsequential part of the fashion world, these items can have a disproportionate impact. Around ten years ago, headlines were made over reports that one wedding ring causes 20 tons of mining waste.

6. Dou Bao Bao (抖包包) Another more niche sharing service is Dou Bao Bao, which lets you share luxury handbags. The deposit, at 30–50% of the price, is hefty, but the actual rental fee can be as low as $US 15 for some bagsDou Bao Bao differentiates itself from most other platforms in that it makes use of people’s existing wardrobe inventory. In other words, the items that are available have already been produced and bought, whereas most other platforms don’t offer the option of renting the unused items found in people’s closets. Baozupo and Youmiao are two competitors with similar business models, but the biggest player globally is US startup The Real Real, which resells a broader range of luxury goods through this consignment model. It’s part of a growing trend: according to Threadupresale of apparel is growing 24 times faster than traditional retail.

A story that’s far from finished

Clothes sharing is becoming an increasingly competitive market. Beyond these six platforms, there are others, including those that have already tried and failed, like Dora’s Dream (多啦衣梦), which opened in Chengdu. To cater to a segment of people found there and in other smaller cities with a lower average income, it set monthly prices low (starting at $US 15/month), and expanded fast. However, its rise was as fast as its fall. The same could be said of Meikka, a company similar to Dou Baobaothat went bust in 2013.

Global companies also see China as a lucrative market for clothes sharing. San Francisco-based Le Tote recently entered the Chinese market with plans to expand. Other companies could follow suit, exploiting the gaps in the traditional ‘one time sale’ model, developing novel sharing concepts for specific uses.

There’s Vigga, a Danish subscription-based rental company for children’s clothes, a segment for which it is difficult to increase usage rate without sharing. Similarly, another potentially interesting segment for such models is pregnant women. Moreover, another example of a company China does not have an equivalent of is Tulerie, an invites-only platform. Users become part of a sort of friendly club that, supposedly, circumvents the barrier that you are sharing clothes with complete strangers. Perhaps because of this congenial atmosphere, an additional perk is the absence of membership fees and deposits.

More research is needed to figure out how the usage rates for shared or rented garments compare to purchased clothes. Until then, a share of agnosticism around which model is superior is warranted — be it rental, subscription, or consignment. While these models may prevent some impulse purchases, rebound effects could include more transportation, washing, or packaging.

With the option to buy clothes already available as a bolt-on addition through some of today’s platforms, customers may end up purchasing clothes on top of participating in a rental platform, seeing these models as way to “try first, buy later”. Regardless, low-hanging fruits remain for these companies, such as cutting excessive plastic packaging and sourcing more durable garments from safe and renewable materials.

What’s next?

As part of Make Fashion Circular, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation outlined three essential components of a thriving fashion and textile industry. As well as business models that keep clothes in use, materials should be renewable and safe, and solutions that turn used clothes into new clothes need to be further developed and scaled. So while the impact of renting and sharing clothes could be profound, it’s not the sole answer to the problems facing the fashion industry.

Even so, sharing practices that are currently seen as niche could have ripple effects throughout the industry. Progress towards circular fashion could accelerate if these new business models are embraced by the incumbents in the fashion industry. In an interview with the Economist, Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway’s chief executive, was quoted saying that she wants to putH&M and Zara out of business. In the same piece, Rakesh Tondon, the founder & CEO of Le Tote, took a less confrontational approach by suggesting that more brands and retailers will begin to launch their own rental services in the news few years. One such company is luxury goods company Secoo. Will more, bigger players follow? As long as people’s concerns around hygiene and authenticity are met, these cost-competitive and convenient models are here to stay.”


A hire purpose: the opportunities in rental fashion

Press this week: Girl Meets Dress in Drapers

Olivia Pinnock writes about the benefits of rental fashion for both customers and the brands. 

Read the article in full below or click the link to read the article on the Drapers website: https://www.drapersonline.com/business-operations/a-hire-purpose-the-opportunities-in-rental-fashion/7033812.article

 

Clothing rental has the potential to make fashion retail more sustainable and provide benefits to both consumers and brands.

Hiring suits for that all-important special occasion has been part of shoppers’ habits for decades. However, changes in consumer behaviour have led renting all kinds of clothing – from dresses to childrenswear – to grow in appeal for shoppers and retailers alike.

Clothing rental is a sustainable alternative to the disposable fashion cycle of “buy, wear, replace”. It lets shoppers discover new pieces, and get brands in front of customers who may not otherwise wear them. Although it is not a one-size-fits-all approach, its applications are growing.  

The so-called sharing economy – exemplified by  short-term let service Airbnb and music-streaming platform Spotify – has made ownership less of a necessity for millennials and Generation Z, who value experiences over possessions. As consumers spend more on events and holidays, and less on the outfits they wear to them, renting becomes an affordable way to still have a fresh look for all occasions.

A study by shopping centre owner Westfield in 2017 found that the UK clothing rental market has a potential value of £923m. The survey showed that 25% of Londoners said they would like to rent clothing. The idea was most popular among 25-to-34-year olds, 50% of whom said they would be willing to spend £200 or more each month on hiring clothes.

Going green

The rental fashion market is also being propelled by an increased interest in sustainability. Many clothing rental sites are proudly branding themselves as a greener option to the piles of unworn clothing sitting in consumers’ wardrobes.

Sustainability-focused brands and retailers are exploring the possibilities of rental clothing in bid to create circular business models. VF Corporation,  owner of labels including The North Face, Timberland and Vans, is considering introducing a rental clothing scheme as part of a new focus on sustainability, EMEA president Martino Scabbia Guerrini told Drapers last year.

Swedish womenswear brand Filippa K, which prides itself on its sustainable credentials, has leased clothes to customers through 11 of its stores since 2015, charging 20% of the total retail price for four days of use. Rental currently represents a small percentage of sales but grew 123% in 2017.

There is also more than a moral benefit to renting clothing for consumers. It makes aspirational brands more accessibly priced, it saves wardrobe space, offers a low-risk way to try new brands, and allows for a never-ending rotation of outfits that can be shown off on social media.

Those businesses that crack rental fashion also stand to benefit. In the US, designer rental platform Rent the Runway, which was launched in 2009 by founders Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fliss, now has 9 million subscribers. Its revenue surpassed $100m (£79.6 m) for the first time in 2016.

European start-ups are now vying to become market leaders in rental fashion on this side of the Atlantic. One such business is Front Row, which offers customers the opportunity to rent clothing and accessories from brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, Fendi and Stella McCartney.

Thirst for newness

Shika Bodani, who founded Front Row in 2016, tells Drapers that UK consumer’s attitude to renting fashion is changing quickly: “Renting clothing was definitely considerably harder when I first started it. Sustainable fashion was the buzzword of 2018 and customers now have a new level of openness towards renting. It isn’t being stigmatised as being the cheap option, which I think it was before 2018.”

One of the longest-standing UK players in luxury occasionwear rental is Girl Meets Dress. About to enter its 10th year in business, it has an inventory of more than 4,000 dresses. Outfits can be rented “pay as you go” or through an “unlimited” subscription package of £99 per month. The latter allows shoppers to borrow up to three outfits at a time, and they can be swapped within the month.

As in any ecommerce business, convenience is key. Girl Meets Dress offers free delivery and returns, and the rental cost includes of dry cleaning and minor repairs after return. Although the operations and logistics may be slightly more complex than a traditional one-way sales transaction, potential profit margins on each item are bigger. Traditional models have a fixed margin once the cost price and retail price are agreed, but rentals can continue to make profits if they are loaned out more times once they hit their target.

It’s all about being more sustainable and not being wasteful

Anna Bunce, Girls Meets Dress

New styles arrive each season to maintain customer interest, but particularly popular items can have a long life and continue to be profitable beyond a single season, Girl Meets Dress founder Anna Bance explains: “A good dress is a good dress, especially if people are going to classic events. It’s all about being more sustainable and not being wasteful.”

Although most businesses operating in this area are focused on high-end fashion, there is a case to be made for affordable brands, too.

Isabella West, founder of Hire Street, is one of the first to offer occasionwear rentals from the high street. She felt that, even at rental prices, designer clothing was prohibitive to the average young woman: “Was I ever going to rent a dress for £100 that I was only going to wear for four days? Absolutely not!”

Brands on Hire Street include Topshop, Asos, French Connection and PrettyLittleThing. Average rental prices are £10-£20 for 10 days.  A year after launch, West is concluding her first round of fundraising, and says the business has grown through embracing a social media-loving audience who is enthusiastic about the concept.

“Customers are so grateful that we have saved them money and they love the experience so much that they’re actively talking about us [on social media] and they’re actively tagging us in their content. They are proud that they’re renting,” she tells Drapers.

People aren’t going to rent very basic clothes – it’s not really possible to rent the whole range of clothes

Sandra Coy, Tchibo

In Germany last year, one of the country’s largest retailers, Tchibo, launched Tchibo Share, a website offering children’s clothing hire. A coffee brand that is also known for selling other goods including value clothing, Tchibo has partnered with Kilenda, a children’s clothing rental start-up, to run the operational side of the scheme. The site offers clothes from Tchibo’s own-brand line, which is also sold in stores.

Prices can be as little as €0.60 (54p) per month for a babygrow, and average rental times are around four months. The lifespan of rental childrenswear is shorter, because of excessive wear and soiling, but Tchibo Share aims to rent out each garment a minimum of four or five times. Repeat customer rates are high – around 70% of renters came back to rent more during the initiative’s first year.

However, Sandra Coy, spokeswoman for corporate responsibility at Tchibo, warns that renting will not work for all sectors of the clothing market: “People aren’t going to rent very basic clothes. Maybe if it’s something special like a coat or winter ski outfits, but it’s not really possible to rent the whole range of clothes.”

Hoping to tackle this issue, Netherlands-based denim label Mud Jeans has adopted a different approach in line with its circular business model.

Alongside traditional selling, customers can pay a flat rate of €29 (£26.04) and then €7.50 (£6.74) per month, per pair of jeans, for a year. This works out at the same cost as buying upfront. At the end of the year, consumers can choose to keep their jeans or – the most popular option – exchange them for a brand-new pair and continue leasing. Around 3,000 members across Europe use the service. The returned jeans are sold as vintage or recycled to make new pairs.

Danique Gunning, marketing manager at Mud Jeans, explains that it is important for brands to know what they will do with garments at the end of their life.

“You have to make sure your products can be recycled after use – otherwise there’s no use getting back your old jeans to make new ones out of them. It starts with the design phase. And then there’s logistics. Our company knows we get back jeans and we know what to do with them, but if you’re not used to having this system then every pair of jeans [that comes back] is costly. Bigger companies, I feel, don’t see the advantages of (a circular system).”

The UK clothing rental market remains fragmented. A range of business models operate within it, and large multiples have not even begun to play catch-up with the start-ups – possibly as a result of huge change in infrastructure it would require. Appetite for rental fashion from price-savvy, sustainably conscious customers is increasing though.

Fashion rental is an option that allows shoppers to take positive step towards sustainability that can also improve margins. But it is unlikely that consumers will ever hire their entire wardrobe, and a market for fashion purchases will, of course, remain.

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